Last year, 2023, the tragic news of the death of a governor of one of the Southwest states took place. Before he died in Germany, he had been going back and forth seeking medical help in hospitals abroad. Because he seemingly did not fulfil constitutional requirements concerning his absence, he left his sick bed, only to pass on, on returning to Germany to resume his treatment.

Much of the discussion surrounding his death is about the kind of ailment that he had, and about the man who would take over from his deputy as deputy.

In my estimation, this is a most unfortunate turn of events. I say this because the man who died in a German hospital or clinic or lab was a governor of a state in Nigeria – a governor. A governor is the equivalent of a president at the subnational level of governance. His position is akin to that of a CEO, a chief security officer and head of the political apparatchik of his state.

While this recently deceased governor was alive, he received security briefings from members of the state security services. As governor, he was privy to key matters of state at the executive, judicial and legislative cadres of the government he led. It was also possible that he was part of the think-tank at the Federal political structure in Nigeria, having attended meetings at the National Council of State and at the forums of governors in Nigeria. As governor, this man attended high-level meetings, made decisions on behalf of the people of the state he governed for over six years. He made local decisions which may have had international ramifications. Part of his responsibility as governor was to make provision for schools, hospitals, transport facilities and the like. He supervised spending from the allocation he received from the federal purse.

Apart from this recently deceased governor in the Southwest of Nigeria, many other very highly placed Nigerian public officers also go abroad to receive treatment in foreign hospitals. The most notorious of them all was Nigeria’s immediate past president. Instead of utilizing the billions of naira that were voted to run the clinic in Aso Rock, this former president often jetted off to get his ears and nostril examined. While patronizing the hospitals abroad, the hospitals at home remained mere consulting clinics. While paying massive sums to the doctors abroad, those at home began to leave in droves over the shabby treatment that the Nigerian state accords them.

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You will see shege if you perchance fall very ill in today’s Nigeria. And that shege that will betide you is a product of the seeming failure of highly placed public officials to focus on and develop our own health and educational institutions. If your case is an emergency such as I experienced last year, your shege is a quadruple one. And unlike the governor and president who have access to public funds to get treatment abroad, you will just die for nothing in Nigeria if you take very ill. The pharmaceutical companies are leaving, and the jappa syndrome has permanently become part and parcel of our lexicon and lingo.

I have met many hirelings of many a governor and of the immediate past president of Nigeria who have argued, and rather strenuously that it is within the fundamental human rights of anyone seeking medical attention abroad to do so. That is true. But what is also true is that there will never be any time coming that you will see a Trudeau or Macron or any leader worth his name going to another country to receive treatment, all in the name of fundamental human rights. These people are not ordinary people, they are not anyone. The leader of France will not go to the US to receive treatment, and the leader of the US will not go to France or the UK to receive treatment. The reason being that apart from the moral dilemma involved in a leader’s inability to make provision for functional health care centres in his country, these leaders know the deep and serious implications of subjecting themselves to doctors from another country. Some of what the ‘doctors’ and ‘nurses’, aka secret service personnel who will treat our governor or president will do is either to take a blood sample or insert a microchip in the anus of the president or governor while he is in a state of coma. With that blood sample, the entire medical history of that our public official gets to be at the disposal of that foreign hospital for as long as they want. If they decide to clone that public official and do with him whatever they want, that will be their decision to make. If it is a microchip they have inserted in his anus, it will be possible to monitor that individual wherever he or she may be. They can access his itinerary and be present virtually at all of his local and national briefings. If another country has this kind of access to the key figures of another country, there is no way they cannot undermine and dictate to the country whose officials they are able to manipulate. When the PIID case lasted, we learnt that the PIID people already hacked our systems, and were one step ahead of us at every turn and twist and at every twist and turn.

This is a dangerous matter. And that’s why I want to make the following recommendations. One, let us work hard at developing and investing in our people and our own institutions, hospitals, schools, roads, etcetera. We have all seen that going to get treatment abroad did not save this governor. Two, there should be a law banning public officials, especially presidents, ministers and governors from going abroad for medical care. It is a security risk. There is a story of a Nigerian governor who travelled to the US for treatment. He didn’t get well in spite of all the expensive drugs he had been taking. One of his friends, who had heard of this former governor’s ailment, gave to him a locally made Nigerian medicine, exported from Nigeria to the US. This governor took the medicine and observed great and significant improvement in his condition. He went back, took a further scrutiny of the drug, and was dumbfounded to find out that that drug that had saved his life had been produced in the state he once governed.

Etemiku is publisher of WADONOR, cultural voice of Nigeria