Amid Growing Criticism, Presidency Says Buhari Never Promised to Shirk Foreign Medical Trips


Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The presidency Wednesday disowned a viral social media post which quoted President Muhammadu Buhari as condemning former presidents of the country for flying exclusive presidential jets, spending huge sums of money on foreign trips, and promising not to embark on medical trips abroad.

The quote, which has been circulating since the president embarked on a series of medical trips to London last year, resurfaced in recent days following his departure for a four-day medical mission to London on Tuesday.

In April 2016, months before his first medical trip to London, Buhari also condemned the use of Nigerian resources on international medical expenses.

“While this administration will not deny anyone of his or her fundamental human rights, we will certainly not encourage expending Nigerian hard-earned resources on any government official seeking medical care abroad, when such can be handled in Nigeria,” Buhari said, according to a statement from the Health Ministry at the time.

But in reaction to the social media post Wedesday, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said that the fake news merchants had commenced another means of perpetrating their trade by misinterpreting and twisting the comments of the president with the aim of discrediting him.

According to him, the quote circulating on the social media, which was alleged to have been lifted from a lecture delivered by the president at the Chatham House in London before the 2015 elections, was fake, insisting that the president never made such a comment.

Describing the quote as “fictive portion of the lecture”, Adesina who said the text of the lecture was available in the public domain for any right thinking mind to verify, added that proponents of the claim had chosen to engage in falsehood to disparage the personality of the president because they have realised that they cannot withstand him in a free and fair poll.

The statement read: “The public is hereby alerted to a new dimension in the orchestrated plot to diminish the stature of President Muhammadu Buhari before millions of Nigerians who love and adore their president.

“First, it was a pernicious twisting and misinterpretation of the words of the president by mischievous elements, so that perhaps they can earn him opprobrium and infamy. When they see that the gambit is not achieving the desired results, they have now gone into utter fabrication of apocryphal statements, which they purvey through the social media.

“An example is a fictive portion of the February 2015 lecture by the then Candidate Buhari at Chatham House, London. This is what is circulating now on social media: ‘What is the difference between me and those who elected us to represent them, absolutely nothing. Why should Nigerian president not to (sic) fly with other Nigerian public? Why do I need to embark on a foreign trip as a president with a huge crowd with public funds? Why do I need to go for a medical trip abroad if we cannot make our hospital (sic) functional? Why do we need to send our children to school abroad if we cannot developed (sic) our university (sic) to compete with the foreign ones?’

“Fortunately, the Chatham House lecture of 2015 is in the public domain. The full text was published by many Nigerian newspapers, and is still available in their libraries and various websites. The concoction by haters and agents of disunity is not part of the text of the lecture at all.

“The morbid minds that created the falsehood simply want to de-market and demean the president, having seen that defeating him in a free and fair electoral contest is a tall order.

“Therefore, they desire to instigate the electorate against him by creating statements that never existed, and attributing such to him.

“We are, however, glad that millions of Nigerians, young and old, are smart enough to see through the machinations. The dubious people will not succeed, as President Buhari’s reputation has been built over time, and sustained for decades.

“That is why he is widely acclaimed for integrity, transparency, honour, and accountability, both home and abroad. Negative minds can never erode or corrode this.

“Bitter emotions stunt the soul and defile the mind. Those behind it will find out, eventually, that they are the ones swallowing poison, and expecting another person to die. They will realise the folly of their actions, to their own grief.

“Decent Nigerians are urged to be wary of the fare they consume hook, line and sinker, particularly on social media. President Buhari is actuated by nothing else than love for motherland.

“He is poised to build a country which all Nigerians can proudly call their own. Noxious minds can still have a change of heart.”