New SGF rushes to Ekwueme's hospital bedside as presidency keeps mum about paying medical bill

File photo of General Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Alex Ekwueme
File photo of General Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Alex Ekwueme

Following news reports on Monday that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has refused to pay for the medical expenses of the ailing former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, the presidency is in panic mode seeking for ways to do damage control.

Sources told Vanguard that the federal government has reneged on its promise to bear the full cost of treatment and transportation of the elder statesman to a hospital in London, and referred the issue to the Anambra State government where Ekwueme hails from.

This shocking decision comes even as President Buhari attempted, last week, to score cheap political points with the illness of the 2nd Republic politician.

The president had announced that Buhari had “approved” for Ekwueme to be flown abroad for treatment and that the government would cover the cost of the treatment. The statement generated a media storm with experts saying that the former vice president is entitled to such benefits and it wasn’t at the discretion of the sitting president.

Nigerians took to social media platforms to shame the president for the propagandistic approach of the Buhari government in dealing with the sickness of the former vice president. A few of the comments on Twitter are below:

Following this intense backlash on social media, the government sent the newly appointed secretary to the government of the federation, Boss Mustapha to visit Dr. Ekwueme in the hospital where he is being treated for what the family say is a chest infection.

According to Garba Shehu, one of the spokespersons of the president,  “Mustapha has conveyed President Muhammadu Buhari’s goodwill message to former Vice-President, Dr Alex Ekwueme in a London hospital”.

He again, tried to remind Nigerians that Ekwueme was taken in an air ambulance to London on Buhari’s approval. But he was curiously silent on this matter of the federal government saying it cannot pay the ailing statesman’s medical expenses.

The presidency says that Mr. Mustapha was in London before Ekwueme’s arrival.

“Mr Mustapha told the Ekwueme family that the President and all Nigerians are praying for the speedy recovery of the elder statesman, adding that he believed that the doctors were doing their best,” Garba wrote on Twitter on Monday, November 13, 2017.

Equally worrisome is the revelation that Dr. Ekwueme’s entitlements as a former vice president have been withheld since 2015 when Buhari came back to power.

The 2nd Republic vice president was removed from office in a 1984 coup by General Muhammadu Buhari who went on to rule the country with an iron fist.

Ekwuem, who was vice president, was jailed in a prison for over two years while his president, Shehu Shagari, a Muslim from the North of Nigeria, was kept under house arrest in his palatial home in Sokoto.

Buhari’s short-lived brutal military regime was marked by widespread violation of human rights,  sectionalism in favour of Northerners and Muslims, nepotism, and corruption.

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