One hundred and seventy one days! That is nearly half a year spent by President Muhammadu Buhari on medical vacation in the United Kingdom.
What started as a visit to clear a “persistent ear infection” has now become a routine activity in the schedule of the president.
On Tuesday, Buhari and a few of his aides departed the presidential wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, around 2:30pm.
The president departed Nigeria for London for a medical check-up which is scheduled to last for two weeks.
Checks by TheCable revealed that Buhari has already spent 171 days treating himself in the UK. This figure includes only two days spent out of his ongoing medical vacation in the foreign country.
At the end of his ongoing vacation, Buhari will have spent 183 days getting medical help in the UK.
Below is a timeline of Buhari’s several medical trips to the UK.
June 6, 2016: Buhari embarked on vacation to attend to what Femi Adesina, his spokesman, described as “a persistent ear infection”. Adesina said though Buhari had been examined and treated by his personal physician and a specialist in Abuja, both doctors advised him to go for further evaluation in London as a precaution.
June 19, 2016: Buhari returned after nearly two weeks in the UK. His medical trip planned for 10 days eventually became 13 days. “I am better. You can see me inspecting the guards of honour. Now you can do the assessment yourself,” he told reporters on his return.
January 23, 2017: Buhari left the country after transmitting a letter to the national assembly, disclosing that he was going on a 10-day medical vacation.
February 5, 2017: He announced in a letter to the federal lawmakers that he was extending the vacation indefinitely.
March 10, 2017: The president returned to the country from his vacation, after he had spent 49 days receiving treatment in London for that year.
May 7, 2017: After 57 days of presiding over the country, Buhari returned to London for an indefinite medical check-up.
August 19, 2017: Buhari finally returned to Nigeria amid jubilations — 103 days after he left for medical check-up. This brought the subtotal for 2017 to 152 days and a total of 165 days since he emerged as president in 2015.
May 8, 2018: Eight months after returning from his 103-day medical trip to the UK, Buhari jetted out of Nigeria for yet another trip bordering on health concerns. The president said he will return after four days.
May 11, 2018: Buhari returned to the country after four days medical visit to the UK. This brings the total of his medical visits to 169 days.
In summary, Buhari spent 13 days in 2016, 152 days in 2017, and four days in 2018 getting treatment in the UK.
In 2019, the president embarked on private trips to the UK while the coronavirus pandemic hindered movement in 2020.
In the ongoing year, Buhari already earmarked 14 days to treating himself in London, out of which two days have been spent.
Asides his medical trips, Buhari has visited the UK on several occasions for private and official reasons.
However, his medical vacations stand out particularly because his administration vowed not to encourage government officials seek medical care abroad.