Buhari's health 'private' even if state paying: minister

2017-09-27 14:30
President Muhammadu Buhari. (File: AFP)

President Muhammadu Buhari. (File: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

London - Nigeria's president is under no obligation to disclose his medical condition even though he has spent most of the year being treated abroad, one of his ministers said on Tuesday.

Muhammadu Buhari has spent lengthy periods in London since January, sparking speculation about his fitness to govern - and also questions about who was footing the bill.

The 74-year-old former army general has said only that he required blood transfusions and had never been as sick in his life.

Claims from political opponents that he had prostate cancer have been denied but civil society groups still want to know whether tax-payers' money was used for the private treatment.

Buhari's information minister suggested the silence was not unusual, just hours after the president returned to Abuja from another round of check-ups in the British capital.

"It's not strange at all for a sitting president to be ill and it's not strange either for the state to take care of his medical bill," Lai Mohammed told AFP in an interview, without elaborating.

'I think we would rather respect his privacy'

"I think there's so much speculation as to what he's been treated for.

"I think we would rather respect his privacy. If Mr President feels like telling the world his ailment, so be it. I don't think he's under an obligation to tell anyone."

The health of Nigeria's head of state is a sensitive issue. Former president Umaru Musa Yar'Adua fell ill and died while in office in 2010, sparking months of political turmoil.

Buhari's mystery illness also comes as political parties and potential candidates jockey for position ahead of the next presidential election in 2019.

Buhari's women's affairs minister Aisha Alhassan claimed earlier this month that he had said he would only serve one, four-year term of office.

But Mohammed, who was spokesman for Buhari's All Progressives Congress (APC) that unseated Goodluck Jonathan at the last vote in 2015, refused to be drawn.

Electoral promises 

"If he's going to run that's left to him but right now, his major preoccupation is delivering on all his electoral promises," he said.

Buhari returned to Nigeria in late August after more than 100 days away. He has since been met with a rising tide of support in southeastern Nigeria for a breakaway state of Biafra.

The government last week formally proscribed the main separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), after repeated clashes with the security services.

IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu is currently on bail pending the resumption of his trial in Abuja next month on charges of treasonable felony.

Kanu's supporters say he has not been seen since the unrest.

Mohammed, who said the group had been banned because it had "crossed a line" from legal protest, said he suspected the separatist leader was "in hiding".

But he added: "He's not being held by government at all."

Read more on:    muhammadu buhari  |  nigeria  |  west africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.