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Buhari Spent Only N20 Million Treating Ear Infection – Presidency

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An argument ensued on Facebook on how much President Muhammadu Buhari really spent on his recent trip to London to treat an ear infection.

Garba Shehu, a spokesperson for the president, rushed an insult-filled statement on Facebook castigating Farooq Kperogi, a popular columnist and university professor, who made commentary to the effect that Buhari’s ear infection cost Nigeria £6 million.

“The disclosure on Prof. Farooq Kperogi’s wall that President Muhammadu Buhari’s ear treatment in the United Kingdom cost a whopping six million pounds must have shocked many of the respected scholar’s followers,” Shehu asserted

“The story reads like an incredible tale by moonlight that belongs to a different era, which fortunately is now history. That’s when a fortunate lady saved $15 million for medical treatment,” he continued, falsely presenting the case involving Mrs. Patience Jonathan, Nigeria’s immediate former first lady.

“But was it possible that the account of this balanced journalism teacher was hacked? I will give him the benefit of the doubt,” Shehu continued.

“Given the austere president we have, Muhammadu Buhari would not have approved this amount if he was shown a six million pounds bill. I won’t be surprised if the president may have asked if the fat bill was for the purchase of a brand new pair of ears.

“I’m prepared to share documents with Farooq, one of the brightest ever produced from the Bayero University Kano that the whole treatment, including a follow-up visit by a specialist to Nigeria didn’t cost [up to] 50,000 pounds,” the statement said.

Then the presidential spokesperson revealed that “a higher sum” was advanced to the president’s doctors in London and a balance was returned to the treasury.

“Indeed, it’s a new day, and President Buhari’s change mantra is real. Let no one confuse my fellow countrymen and women,” he concluded.

But, there’s a problem, Kperogi never accused the president of spending £6 million on his medical trip. The professor was only making reference to a report on Vanguard newspaper, which said that “Checks at the presidency claimed that, the cost of the trip which includes aviation fuel, accommodation, allowances for aides and medical treatment amounts to about £6 million.”

Kperogi posted a reply on Shehu’s Facebook update. “Mallam Garba Shehu was my teacher. In fact, as I wrote in one of my columns, he is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had in my entire life.

“Ironically, he taught me most of the things I know today, including speaking truth to power and holding government accountable to the people through journalism. I didn’t make up the allegation that Buhari spent 6 million pounds to treat his ear infection. It’s been around since June.

“It was even reported in the Vanguard of June 9. Now, I am the first to admit that Vanguard isn’t always a reliable source of news (I have written at least two scathing articles on Vanguard), but it’s also true that Vanguard is Nigeria’s most visited online news source, outranked occasionally only by Punch, according to Alexa.com.

“You ignore it at your own risk. It’s hard to believe that the presidency is only just now learning about the allegation after I brought it up in my column and status update. Well, here is it, my esteemed former teacher,” he concluded by sharing the link to the news story.

Curiously, the presidency never responded to the claim by Vanguard, which was made in June 2009.

George Daniel, a social media activist, commented on the professor’s Facebook update, “The medical bill here in question doesn’t mean the bill the doctor gave Baba [President Buhari], but the Vanguard story mentioned the whole cost of the trip to London, which includes aviation fuel, hotels for Baba and [his] staffers in London and the whole expense on that trip just to treat Baba’s ear.” 

A university don had condemned the cost of Buhari’s ear infection to the country’s treasury saying that the president was being wasteful and travelling abroad for medical treatment that could easily be done in Nigeria.

Updated at 12 midnight:

Kperogi posted a reply on Shehu’s Facebook update. “Mallam Garba Shehu was my teacher. In fact, as I wrote in one of my columns, he is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had in my entire life.

“Ironically, he taught me most of the things I know today, including speaking truth to power and holding government accountable to the people through journalism. I didn’t make up the allegation that Buhari spent 6 million pounds to treat his ear infection. It’s been around since June.

“It was even reported in the Vanguard of June 9. Now, I am the first to admit that Vanguard isn’t always a reliable source of news (I have written at least two scathing articles on Vanguard), but it’s also true that Vanguard is Nigeria’s most visited online news source, outranked occasionally only by Punch, according to Alexa.com.

“You ignore it at your own risk. It’s hard to believe that the presidency is only just now learning about the allegation after I brought it up in my column and status update. Well, here is it, my esteemed former teacher,” he concluded by sharing the link to the news story.

Curiously, the presidency never responded to the claim by Vanguard, which was made in June 2009.

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