PROTESTERS have stepped up demonstrations outside Abuja House the residence of the Nigerian high commissioner to the UK to expressing their opposition to President Muhammadu Buhari latest health vacation in the country.
On March 30, President Buhari arrived in London for a two week holiday, during which time he will meet with his British doctors for a medical check-up. Downplaying the seriousness of the visit, presidency officials presidency officials said that the president will only be undergoing routine medical check-up.
Stressing that it is not anything major, presidential spokesman Mallam Garba Shehu, said that there was not even a need for President Buhari to hand over to vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo as he will still be running the country from London. Nigeria’s constitution mandates the president to hand over to his vice whenever he is incapacitated or is absent in the country for 21 days and more.
However, the visit has not gone done well with members of the Nigerian diaspora in the UK who have been holding protests outside Abuja House, located at 2 Campden Hill in Kensington, London. They have planned at least three demonstrations on April 2, 3 and 4 outside Abuja House, saying the president should be receiving his medical treatment in Nigeria.
Former presidential aide, Reno Omokiri, who is backing the protests, posted a message on his Twitter handle saying the protesters were there to chase the president back home. Using a hashtag #HarassBuhariOutOfLondon, Mr Omokiri said that so far, President Buhari has not been seen in public.
He wrote: “The police came but the #HarassBuhariOutOfLondon went on and a frightened Buhari refused to come. The eagle has landed to harass the ego out of London, it is happening people. We will observe Covid-19 protocols even as we chase Buhari back home.”
Organised by a group which identifies itself as the Global Coalition for Safety and Democracy in Nigeria, the protests are centred around the fact that Nigeria’s healthcare delivery system is in shambles. Messages the protesters have been putting across is that it is wrong for President Buhari to be treating himself abroad while Nigeria is bleeding.
One of their messages read: You cannot destroy our hospitals and seek medical care abroad. You lied during your election campaign not to seek medical care abroad.”
Another read: “You cannot kill Nigerians at Lekki Toll Gate and then treat yourself in London. Disclose how much you have spent for your medical treatments abroad since 2015.”
The protesters can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. They have called on all Nigerians in the UK to join the protests which will go on for the next two days over the Easter holidays.
Since assuming office in 2015, President Buhari has come to the UK for healthcare every year, taking time off his presidential duties. This latest trip was announced on the same day that Nigerian residents doctors announced they would commence an indefinite nationwide strike due to non-payment of their salary arrears and Covid-19 hazard allowances, although an agreement has since been reached on the matter.