An opinion poll conducted by Newsmen has revealed that many Nigerians want a law that compels candidates to submit reports on their medical status as part of requirements to participate in the 2019 general elections.
The poll, which was conducted online, between Friday and 5pm on Saturday, asked respondents, ‘Do you want a law that will require (President Muhammadu) Buhari, other presidential candidates to submit medical test reports before contesting the 2019 election?’
It gauged the opinions of Nigerians using two options for participants.
Those who preferred to have a law mandating the submission of medical reports as a qualification to run for a political office answered by clicking ‘YES’ while those with a contrary opinion clicked the ‘NO’ button.
The poll went live at midnight on Friday.
As of 5pm on Saturday, out of the 2,288 participants who took part in the poll, 89 per cent (2,037 respondents) indicated that they were in favour of a law demanding the medical status of candidates for the 2019 election.
Conversely, up to 250 people, amounting to 11 per cent, said NO to the idea of such a law.
The results of the poll, which ran online for two days, indicated that many Nigerians were interested in a law compelling the candidates in the 2019 elections to declare their physical fitness for their respective offices of interest.
Those who supported the law, while taking the poll, buttressed their opinions with the alarming number of foreign medical trips embarked on by Buhari.
The President, on Friday, returned to Abuja after a three-day medical trip to London, UK.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, while announcing the trip by Buhari beginning last Tuesday, had said, “In the course of the technical stop-over for aircraft maintenance in London on his way back from Washington last (penultimate) week, the President had a meeting with his doctor.
“The doctor requested the President to return for a meeting which he agreed to do.”
Since assuming office on May 29, 2015, Buhari had on several occasions, travelled abroad for medical reasons. He embarked on a six-day vacation in the UK between February 5 and 10, 2016.
On June 6, 2016, he departed for another 10-day vacation to attend to what the Presidency described as “a persistent ear infection.” Buhari returned to Nigeria on June 19, 2016, after spending 14 days in London.
The 75-year-old leader again left the country on January 19, 2017, for a medical vacation. He returned to the country on March 10, 2017, after a 49-day medical sojourn, admitting that he had never been that sick in his life.
The President, on May 7, 2017, travelled back to London for medical consultation only to return to the country on August 19, 2017.
Amid the numerous medical trips, controversy continues to trail the refusal of the Presidency to reveal Buhari’s physical status, as well as the nature of and payment for his extensive medical treatments.
Readers took turns in sharing their opinions on the idea of a law mandating candidates to submit their medical reports.
One of the readers, Jeremiah, in the comments section of the poll, said, “That would be excellent.”
A reader, identified as Izonkeme, said, “Absolutely! We need a fit president and such certificates should not be falsified because most (candidates) will do that.”
Another reader, Nfona Macaulay, noted that medical certificates are required for corporate employment, adding that the same should be done “mainly for president (sic) aspirants of our country.”
Similarly, Philharmonic said, “We do so (demand medical reports) when employing anyone with the slightest bit of responsibility in an office. It should be made a law, along with presidential debates.”
According to Arabakpura Dawood, the whole country is sick when the President is sick.
The respondent added, “I prefer a healthy president because this sick one creates uncertainties and makes everyone sick in the mind, which affects the whole body. So, let’s have a healthy president and it’s very easy to fight the remaining malaise.”
Another reader, Expose, urged the legislature to propose a law mandating all candidates to tender their medical reports from reputable hospitals for screening.
“Nigerians no longer want to carry the liability of any government functionary with terminal disease. The money Nigeria has spent on Buhari’s ill-health can sustain two states. Let’s follow the United States and other countries that have adopted and implemented such law,” the user added.
Also taking the poll, Clement Osunbade, said, “Absolutely! The American system we copied goes along with that. Contestants are expected to submit a statement or bill of good health from their physicians. The same should happen here. We want to see that happen to all presidential contestants as they square up for 2019.”
Commenting with the pseudonym, Trouble, another respondent noted that all candidates in the 2019 elections should undergo both mental and physical tests before running for any elective post.
Tiboxi also said, “All persons seeking public office should be certified medically fit for such task.”
According to Bugsy McGraw, more importantly, there should be a law making it an impeachable offence to seek treatment abroad while holding public office.
“Then, you will see the speed with which our health system will evolve for good,” the respondent added.
While many openly supported the mandatory submission of medical reports by candidates, a few expressed disapproval, saying medical records were confidential.
Opponents of the debated law on medical reports further argued that the will to fight corruption should be given priority over the physical fitness of the office holder.
A reader using the pseudonym, Manager, said Nigerian politicians would still forge their health certificates.
The respondent added, “Corruption is active in every aspect of Nigerian politics. Medical report is not our problem, but corruption.”
Sunday Ubokudom also explained that revealing one’s medical status as a presidential candidate was not a statutory or constitutional requirement in the US.
“Aspirants to the highest office in the land may release general health statements from their physicians if they choose to do so. This is not a requirement, but a practice. Personal medical records are confidential, and can only be released with the owner’s permission,” the reader added.
Another respondent, Ope, who was critical of the supposed law as a failsafe measure, said, “This will be good but will it stop people from falling ill after they get to office?”
Also, Yinka said, “Who will pass the law? Nigerian politicians that seek foreign medical travel after they are arrested by EFCC (the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) or the Senate President and DSP that own about 15 houses abroad? You want people that travel abroad for treatment to pass a law to stop it. Good luck.”