The recent revelation by the Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, that the federal government of Nigeria will not be releasing the medical bills of President Muhammadu Buhari of his last extended leave in the United Kingdom has a lot of Nigerians annoyed.
The minister said that using the Freedom of Information (FOI) act to demand details of spending in respect to the president’s medical treatment has implications for national security and moral issues.
Lai Mohammed explained that the president’s medical expenses were classified documents and that essentially, the state has the responsibility to cater for the president’s conditions of service, including his entitlements and well-being.
The minister said he was not aware of anywhere in the world where the president was forced to divulge the cost of his medical bills.
All of these statements were made following a letter by Saturday Punch to the presidency calling for the release of the medical statement of Mr President who spent 50 days outside the country.
In the earlier moments of this medical saga, President Buhari had written to the Senate informing them of his leave for medical purposes for a duration of 10 days, however, a second letter written to the Senate on February 5 informed the lawmakers of the President’s wish to extend his leave indefinitely. The vice president was put in acting-president capacity.
Now that the President is back, he said he felt better, but hinted that he would need to do further follow-ups on his health in few weeks’ time.
With all these trumped up to sensitive information, it leaves a lot to be established in terms of trust and change, the later a slogan Mr President ran on two years ago when he assumed office.
Why are we really interested in his bills?
In the Minister of information, Lai Mohammed’s words, the state is supposed to cater for the president, which can be inferred to in the simplest of terms tax payers money.
In a country that has proven that the political class have no ethical standards, it’s not really hard to see why we are interested in knowing how exactly money was spent. But, there’s more.
The 2017 budget for the State House reveals that the State House Medical centre has a budget of 331,730,211 naira which is a lot and considering that the president has been all about cutting public spending, then why isn’t he using the medical centre?
Or are the medical cabinets stocked with only paracetamols and vitamin C tablets?
Honestly, we can’t take running the nation with a pinch of salt and the laxity that has characterised past leaders, if not, this ship called Nigeria, is not going anywhere.