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President notifies National Assembly as he goes to London

By Mohammed Abubakar (Abuja) and Chukwuma Muanya (Lagos)
07 June 2016   |   3:53 am
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday left the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport for the United Kingdom where he is expected to receive medical attention over an ear infection.
President Buhari departs for UK.

President Buhari departs for UK.

• Adesina insists Buhari’s not ill, Osinbajo takes over
• Nigeria has capacity to handle any ear infection

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday left the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport for the United Kingdom where he is expected to receive medical attention over an ear infection. He told reporters at the airport that he had complied with necessary constitutional provisions before his departure, including formally notifying the National Assembly about his movement.

But despite the president’s acknowledgment of his ear infection, his Special Adviser, Femi Adesina, insisted yesterday that, ‘illness’ was not the appropriate word to be used in the case of the president.
He said Buhari would only use the period of ‘ his rest’ to see an ear specialist .

Meanwhile, Ear Nose and Throat (E.N.T.) surgeons and medical experts have condemned President Buhari’s travel to London to see a specialist for an ear infection even as they said that Nigerian hospitals have the capacity to treat any kind of ear malignancy.

They said the president’s travelling abroad to seek medical treatment for ear infection is an affront to their profession because they have the centres, facilities and expertise spread across the country to handle the most complicated ear infection.

The president, who left the State House at 11:00 a.m. travelled without most of the retinue of aides, including his spokesman and the media crew.

Asked what he had to tell Nigerians about his trip, Buhari in his usual curt response said: “I have already told Nigerians that I am going for 10 days to get my ear checked. “

He said he had informed the National Assembly as required by law, noting: “The National Assembly knows, they have been formally informed.”

On how to calm tension of over the nation’s president falling sick, Buhari fired back: “Is there anybody that doesn’t fall sick?”

But Adesina in a comment said: “The buzz going round town is that the president is ‘ill’, but ‘ill’ will be a misnomer, it should not be the right word to use. The president is going for a 10-day rest and during that period he will see specialists who will look at his ear because he has been treating that ear locally for sometime.

“Nigerian physicians have looked at it and now they have said ‘Since you are going to UK, let specialists there look at the ear. They have treated it locally so it is not a question of whether the president is ill. If he is ill, it presupposes that there are certain things that he cannot do. Till the very last minute that he is traveling, the president performed the duties and functions of his office as the president.

So illness is not the issue, but as a human being, yes, he can rest. He has been president for one full year now. You know that in February he took five days leave, he is taking another 10 days now, that means 15 days leave in one year.
“You and I take more than that, so it is natural that the president, as a human being is taking 10 days rest. But he is not ill. We need to underscore that. Rather than going into a frenzy I will urge Nigerians to just show goodwill and patriotism; they should pray for him and wish him well. Things about health, life and death are in the hands of God, but I believe that all is well with out president and God will take care of him and take care of the country.”

Meanwhile, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has been on his desk acting as the president in the absence of Buhari. Though there had not been an official statement to that effect from the presidency, The Guardian observed that Osinbajo met with some of the president’s economic team such as the Ministers of Budget and National Planning, Udoma, Udo Udoma,, Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele.

The medical experts appealed to the president to show committed leadership by rethinking the foreign medical travel and explore options of getting treated in Nigeria.

An ENT surgeon at the National Ear Centre Kaduna, Dr. Mohammed Menasara; Head of ENT Department at Stella Obasanjo Hospital, Benin City, Edo State, Dr. Patrick Okundia; immediate past President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and Vice President of the Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA), Dr. Osahon Enabulele; and the Chief Medical Director of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi-Araba, Prof. Bode Chris, spoke with The Guardian in a telephone interview yesterday.

They recommended that the president should among other things: urgently invite a consortium of ENT specialists in Nigeria to Abuja to re-evaluate and treat him; or if it is determined that the medical expertise is not available in Nigeria which is doubtful, any identified Nigerian trained ENT specialist practising anywhere in the world should be invited to Abuja, Nigeria, for the sole purpose of re-evaluating and treating him.

Or if it is a case where the health facilities are unavailable , and this is a possibility, then Buhari should have used his current medical situation, though unfortunate, to commence the Federal Government’s plan to re-equip Nigerian hospitals with modern state-of-the art health facilities to enable the locally available Nigerian trained ENT specialists to attend to him, and thereafter use the same facilities to attend to other Nigerians with similar conditions.

The Guardian learnt from sources at the presidency that Buhari suffers from Ménière’s disease, which can lead to permanent deafness.

According to the United States National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), “Ménière’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes severe dizziness, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness or congestion in the ear.

Ménière’s disease usually affects only one ear.
“Attacks of dizziness may come on suddenly and some people with Ménière’s disease have vertigo so extreme that they lost their balance and fall. These episodes are called ‘drop attacks.’”

Reacting to the question on the worst case scenario for an ear infection and whether the centre has the capacity, Menasara told The Guardian: “Sometimes if malignant that is in otitis externa it may warrant admission into a hospital because of the severe pain. The condition is common in diabetics. It can only lead to deafness in rare cases.

“We have the capacity to treat any kind of ear infection. We are fully equipped and have treated all sorts of complications. We have not had to refer anybody abroad for any procedure except if it is cochlear implant, some of which we have done before here in Nigeria,” Menasara said.