Muhammadu Buhari, 79, has visited London several times for medical reasons since he was first elected president in 2015, but the nature of his illness has never been disclosed. His last medical visit to London, also lasting two weeks, was in July last year.
Each time, these trips trigger heated controversy in Nigeria, where the health system is failing, with less than 42,000 doctors for more than 210 million people and dilapidated hospitals.
Muhammadu Buhari left Nigeria on Monday for Nairobi, Kenya, where he is due to attend the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Environment Programme on Thursday and Friday, according to the statement.
Sequel to an invitation extended to him by his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta, President Buhari will depart Abuja Tuesday, 1st March to participate in the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of @UNEP ([email protected]), scheduled for 3rd – 4th March, 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya.#Thread
— Presidency Nigeria (@NGRPresident) March 1, 2022
The former general’s state of health was a subject of debate during the last election campaign in 2019, with the opposition claiming that he was not physically fit to govern. Muhammadu Buhari won the election.
In early 2017, he spent three months in London for medical treatment, the nature of which was never disclosed by official sources. On his return, he said he had “never been so ill” in his life and had undergone several blood transfusions.
The president will finish his second term on 29 May 2023 and has announced that he does not intend to run for a third term. No candidate has yet emerged to replace him, but the ruling APC party already has several contenders, including the influential former governor of Lagos, Bola Tinubu.
Africa’s most populous country is plagued by major security crises in the north-east, the scene of a jihadist insurgency, and in the north-west, where criminal gangs are stepping up attacks and kidnappings. For several weeks, the country, the largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa, has also been facing a shortage of petrol.