This is an excuse on the “dog ate my homework” scale. President Muhammadu Buhari’s spin-doctor Femi Adesina went on national television yesterday to claim that his principal, who has had two spells abroad this year on medical leave, did so because of the failure of the previous administration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to improve the country’s healthcare facilities.
Adesina said: “There was a time we could have afforded it, but the money was not properly spent. That’s why the President keeps lamenting that for a certain number of years consistently, oil prices stood at $100 per barrel, going as high as $120 per barrel at a time, and we were producing about 2.1 million barrels daily.
“Then when he (Buhari) came, oil prices plunged to $37 per barrel, so he called the Central Bank Governor and said, ‘Do we have savings?’ and the Governor said ‘No savings.’
“The question is, ‘What did they do with that money? Why didn’t they fix our hospitals in all those years that we had boom?’”
Without a shadow of a doubt, the PDP’s 16 years in office was an unmitigated disaster. But Adesina is being disingenuous here. For starters, Buhari admitted last year to Nigerians resident in the UK that he had been using doctors in that country since 1978. It’s hard to blame the PDP for this as the party only to came to power in 1999.
Secondly, Buhari was Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund from 1994 to 1999. The body was funded from the revenue generated by the increase in price of petroleum products, to pursue developmental projects around the country. Those development projects included improving healthcare infrastructure. So Buhari shares the blame for the failure in improving healthcare facilities across the country.
Thirdly, Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is made up of politicians from the PDP and other parties such as Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). Those politicians included governors of states like Rotimi Amaechi in Rivers State, Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola in Lagos State. None of these people bothered to bring hospitals in their states up to scratch. In 2012, Fashola, then ACN governor of Lagos State, flew his father abroad for treatment.
Therefore, Adesina is being economical with the truth to lay the blame for the decrepit state of Nigerian healthcare just on the shoulders of the PDP. In fact, he is insulting the intelligence of Nigerians with such a claim. The blame spreads equally to politicians of all stripes, including the president, who has been in power for over two years and has not improved the clinic at the presidential villa, despite the billions of naira budgeted for it.