President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the Senate, notifying the lawmakers of his 10-day trip abroad for medical treatment, and his temporary handover of the government to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Mr. Buhari left on Monday for London where the presidency said he would see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist for his “persistent ear infection”.
The Senate on Tuesday read a letter from the president communicating his decision to travel.
The deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided Tuesday, said the Senate wished the president quick recovery.
Mr. Buhari is officially transferring power to Mr. Osinbajo for the second time since the two leaders came to power in May 2015.
While the move would draw commendations, the president has come under intense criticism for his latest trip abroad.
Many Nigerians believe his condition could be handled in the country, especially since the administration had earlier barred government officials from foreign medical trips, except for cases that cannot be handled in the country.
The vice president of the Commonwealth Medical Association, Osahon Enabule, told PREMIUM TIMES that the president’s trip to London is a “tragic blot on Nigeria’s collective professional and national image”.
In a statement, he said the latest foreign medical trip “flies in the face of the Federal Government’s earlier declaration of her resolve to halt the embarrassing phenomenon of outward medical tourism, which as at the end of 2013 had led to a humongous capital flight of about one billion dollars, particularly from expenses incurred by political and public office holders and their accompanying aides”.
Describing most of the medical foreign trips as unnecessary, Mr. Enabulele said they were financed with tax payers’ resources.
“Undoubtedly, Mr. President has lost a golden opportunity to assert his change mantra through a clear demonstration of leadership by example, by staying back to receive medical treatment in Nigeria and thereby inspiring confidence in Nigeria’s health sector which currently boasts of medical experts that favourably compare with medical experts anywhere in the world, if not even better.”
He said Nigeria has competent ENT specialists in the country and, alternatively, that the country’s experts abroad could have been flown to Abuja to evaluate the President’s condition instead of travelling abroad.