Presidency should not leave Nigerians guessing
MRS Patience Jonathan, Nigeria’s First Lady left the country’s shores in cloudy circumstances since the first week of September and the public has been left guessing about her whereabouts and her mission for travelling. Before her latest rove, she noticeably disappeared from public glare after hosting the laughable African First Ladies Peace Summit in Abuja. Consequently, the media have been agog with conjecture regarding her state of health.
We watch with amusement as tales of her alleged food poisoning, ruptured appendicitis to the comical abdominoplasty, a surgical procedure for tightening the abdominal muscles, popularly referred to as tummy tuck rent the air. Some even speculated that she lost her voice and was unconscious at the time she was moved out of the country, reportedly to Horst Schmidt Klinik, Wiesbaden, Germany.
However, Mr. Ayo Osinlu, her spokesman, dismissed all these, ascribing her boss’ overseas travel to the necessity to take a “moment’s rest.” The Presidency has worsened the matter by keeping undignified silence. What is nevertheless clear is that Mrs. Jonathan, also a controversial Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa State Civil Service, has some health challenges, which to us, is human.
What is abhorrent is the high secrecy with which the matter is handled as if making the issue a public one will sound the death knell of the president’s wife. This sadly is a repeat of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua episode when even whilst the president was dying, the cabal in the Presidency, still erroneously believed that Nigerians did not have the right to know the state of health of their president.
We have come to realise that leaders hardly learn any good lessons from the past; otherwise, the current hoarding of information regarding the state of health of Mrs. Jonathan is uncalled-for. This symptom is gradually becoming routine in the African continent where leaders conceal their health challenges from public glare, even when such is impeding the optimal discharge of the duties they swore to perform.
Nigeria’s political leaders and their families habitually seek luxurious therapeutic attention abroad at state’s expense. The latest overseas adventure of Mrs. Jonathan is perhaps a continuation of this awful trend; that is sadder because the nation has at its beck and call, enormous resources that could have been deployed to provide better medicare infrastructure through prudent management.
Recently too, David Mark, Senate-President, skipped the ceremonial signing of this year’s budget because he was in Israel to seek medical attention for his aching teeth and eye. Yet, Prof. Onyebuchi Nwosu, Minister of Health, reportedly cancelled overseas medical trips by public officers for treatment that could be handled by medical institutions in Nigeria?
At barely 52 as an independent nation, we are not comfortable that no hospital in Nigeria is considered good enough to handle food poisoning, appendicitis or even tooth problem that these two VIPs suffered from. The crass violations of this ministerial order by top ranking government officials and their families constitute an embarrassment to this administration.
Nigeria reportedly expends annually, a colossal amount of $200million on medical tourism. We consider this to be a shame to a country that boasts of over160 tertiary medical that are largely under-equipped and maintained by powerful elements in government with despicable medical standard.
We wish Mrs. Jonathan quick recovery despite official non-disclosure of where she is or what she is afflicted with.