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Nigerian President’s London Trip Personal, Not Health-related

FILE - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria, May 14, 2016.

A spokesman for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said the president’s trip to London which began Monday is not health-related but rather a holiday.

Femi Adesina, a senior special advisor on media and publicity, said the president will use his vacation to get a medical check-up and to get an examination of a “persistent” ear infection.

This, as the vice president of the Commonwealth Medical Association expressed disappointment in the president’s 10-day trip to London, saying it was “a tragic blot on Nigeria’s collective professional and national image."

Dr. Osahon Enabulele said medical tourism costs Nigeria about $1 billion, particularly from expenses incurred by political and public office holders and their accompanying aides.

He said Buhari lost a golden opportunity to assert his "change mantra" by receiving medical treatment in Nigeria.

But presidential spokesman Adesina says Buhari was first treated by two Nigerian physicians who then advised him to have other experts look at him again during his London trip.

“He is not on medical trip; he is on a holiday, and he is just using the opportunity of the holiday to then get some doctors to look at him. So it’s not a health trip per se, he said.”

Enabulele said by receiving treatment in Nigeria, Buhari would inspire confidence in the Nigerian health sector, which currently boasts of medical experts that “favorably compare with medical experts anywhere in the world, if not better”.

Adesina said Buhari has confidence in the professionalism of Nigerian-born physicians.

“He has a personal physician who is a Nigerian. He believes in Nigerian professionals. If not that he was going on holidays, he didn’t willfully go out to seek medical treatment,” Adesina said.

“Ill is not the word because when you are ill you are incapable of carrying out certain functions. Till the president left Nigeria, he was performing the duties of his office. Anybody who is ill can’t do that,” Adesina said.