The presidency has rubbished reports that President Muhammadu Buhari’s ear treatment in the United Kingdom cost £6milllion.
The claim was made in June after the President had returned from his 10 day trip to London but there was no reaction from Aso Rock.
But writing on his Facebook wall on Sunday, a renowned journalist, Prof. Farooq Kperogi, said: “A president who promised you change went to London, spent 6 million pounds (that’s up to 3 billion naira) just to treat an ear infection when all Nigerian teaching hospitals combined were allocated less than 3 billion naira in the budget–and when he budgeted up to 4 billion naira for Aso Rock Clinic that he doesn’t even use AND after he banned all government officials from traveling abroad for medical treatment”
Reacting to Kperogi’s piece, Buhari’s Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said “the whole treatment, including a follow-up visit by a specialist to Nigeria didn’t cost 50,000 pounds.
He added: “For the records, the administration advanced a higher sum, but the President’s doctor returned the balance to the treasury”.
Shehu’s statement reads: “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.
“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 USD15 million for medical treatment!
“But was it possible that the account of this balanced journalism teacher was hacked?
“I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
“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 (BUK) that the whole treatment, including a follow-up visit by a specialist to Nigeria didn’t cost 50,000 pounds.
“For the records, the administration advanced a higher sum, but the President’s doctor returned the balance 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”.
But in his reply to Shehu’s defence, Kperogi said the claim did not come from him but from a Vanguard newspaper report where a senior lecturer at the department of Political Science, University of Ilorin, Dr. Lukman Saka, criticised the trip saying that such money that would be used for that foreign medical trip could have been used to developed the nation’s health infrastructures.
The newspaper had written then: “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 £6milion”.
Part of Kperogi’s reply reads: “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. 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”