According to reports, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has faulted the claim by Senior Special Assistant on Media to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, that the Presidential jet was parked in London to await the president’s discharge from hospital, as that was the global standard.
The Rights group said there was no global best practice that prescribes that a president can ruin the domestic health sector to necessitate a seemingly endless medical tour by its political class on public expenses.
It lamented that the case of President Buhari, who has spent cumulatively over 100 working days in a British medical facility at serious financial and logistics costs to the public treasury of Nigeria, was particularly disheartening.
A statement by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf, said in over a century, there hasn’t been any antecedent whereby a leader of a sovereign state would be flown to a far-away sovereign nation in another continent.
“That such an ailing President spends incredible amount of time receiving medical help whilst the presidential jet maintained at public costs would be parked at a foreign aviation facility to accumulate huge bills, which the national fund would be deployed to offset, makes it even more abhorrent,” the statement said.
HURIWA, therefore, challenged Shehu to show Nigerians any evidence of this kind of prolonged medical sojourn abroad by any political leader of a country to justify his claims that the practice was a global standard.
“HURIWA thinks we should be ashamed of ourselves that we can’t get the best of medical facilities in the country due to prolonged period of mismanagement and organised robbery of public assets by successive and current politicians, instead of attempting to tie a wool of confusion and half-baked media propaganda on gullible citizens by rationalising over a practice that has no global best practice or historical antecedents,” it said.
HURIWA noted that the Presidential jet, if parked in Abuja, will cost nothing and that it will take few hours to be flown to the United Kingdom any moment the president recuperates well enough and wishes to be flown back home.
“The other time, did Acting President Yemi Osinbajo not fly into Italy for the G7 Global Summit on migration of Africans and jetted back home the same day?
“Why waste scarce public funds to park the jet belonging to Nigeria in London to await the president, as if public property has now become a family property?
“This is corruption of the severest type when public property is used recklessly just like a privately owned asset by the occupant of the President jet.
“Let the Presidential jet be retrieved and returned to the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja until such a time the president is prepared to return to work when hopefully he would have regained his health,” the statement added.