Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Sunday failed to make a commitment that he would use Nigerian health facilities if elected president of the country.
Atiku was among the Presidential Candidates who featured in the townhall organised by ARISE Television in conjunction with the Centre For Democracy and Development (CDD).
Peter Obi, Presidential Candidate of Labour Party, and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), were the other two candidates at the event.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was the only invited candidate who stayed away from the session where those aspiring for the highest office in the country were grilled on issues ranging from Education, Healthcare, Poverty and Human Capital.
One of the anchors had asked the candidates if they could declare their health status and also use health facilities in the country if elected.
Kwankwaso, who took the lead, drew laughter from the audience when he said doctors had certified that he had 30 more years.
He also state that he was ready to make his status known and would make use of Nigerian facilities as he had been doing.
Atiku followed next by saying he would declare his health status if the need arises.
Asked if he was prepared to use facilities in the country, Atiku said, “The Nigerian health facilities that carter for my health may not be available. You know that we have limitations. We have been talking about those limitations.”
On his plan for ensuring that healthcare delivery is readily available and affordable, Atiku said, “I will review the Nigeria Health Insurance Scheme system initiated while I was Vice President, and make it inclusive and affordable for all Nigerians.
“We need to first address the issue of primary healthcare. After addressing this, which affects the majority of our citizens, then we can focus on the secondary and tertiary levels. The truth is that we are not investing enough as a government in the medical sector.”
On his part, Obi said he was ready to make his health status public, adding that he had no problem using Nigerian hospitals.
He said he made use of such facilities when he was governor of Anambra.
He said, “It is actually required that those aspiring to lead should be able to make their medical records available to the public. And two, I have served as a governor. While serving as governor, I resuscitated some facilities and I used them. I’m still using them till today. I believe that If there’s any issue of referral from them, I mean if there’s a situation that our healthcare can’t handle, I will not say everybody must be restricted here. As for my position, I use the facilities here and I believe in them. And I can tell you that they are very competent. All we need is to believe in them. I have shown you how we can use insurance to prove that everyone can be cared for.”
Medical tourism is a big issue in the country as the elites make use of hospitals abroad. A report showed that President Muhammadu Buhari has spent at least 225 days away from the country on medical trips since assuming office in 2015.