President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that former Vice President Alex Ekwueme be immediately flown abroad for urgent medical treatment.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President gave the order on Friday, Nov. 3, after he received a brief on Ekwueme’s medical condition.
The presidential spokesman explained that the approval given by Buhari would cover the cost of chartering an air ambulance for the journey and the cost of his treatment. The President further prayed God to grant the elder statesman speedy recovery.
Alex Ekwueme was the first elected vice president of Nigeria between 1979 and 1983 in the Shehu Shagari administration.
The former vice president, who turned 85 in October, reportedly collapsed in his Enugu residence on Sunday, Oct. 29th. His family had earlier in the week said that the former leader’s health was stable.
Speaking for the family, Laz Ekwueme, the traditional ruler of Oko community in Anambra State, said the elder statesman is now in a stable condition but would remain under close medical attention till his situation improved.
“Dr Alex I. Ekwueme, GCON, the former Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, was on Sunday 29th October 2017, admitted into hospital for a chest infection.
“It will be recalled that the former Vice President had a quiet celebration of his 85th birthday on the 21st of October 2017 in the company of his family members and he remained in high spirits up till his recent health challenges. His doctors confirm that he is stable, but he will remain under close medical attention in the meantime.
“The family would like to express its profound gratitude to all Nigerians who have shown concern over this development and requests their sustained support and prayers as he continues to make a full recovery”, the traditional ruler said in a statement.
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Meanwhile, a Nigerian activist, Aroms Aigbehi has blamed Alex Ekwueme’s health crisis and Bola Tinubu’s first son’s death on Nigeria’s poor health system. In a social media post, Aigbehi wrote:
“A while back I wrote and spoke about how corruption destroys the lives of people in Nigeria. Not just the poor but everyone.
“So I read in the papers this morning that Bola Tinubu lost his first son (Jide Tinubu). That must be devastating. He reportedly slumped and died which is a sign of a heart attack.
“My brother in law got a heart attack two weeks ago in the Netherlands. The ambulance was at his house within 5 minutes and they rushed him to the hospital and stabilised him for days before he was operated. Some of his arteries were blocked. He is back home now already walking around.
“No matter how rich you are in Nigeria, you cannot fly out of the country during a heart attack.
“I also read that Dr. Alex Ekwueme is in coma. He was also one of those who ruled Nigeria before and didn’t build our medical system. The governor of his state is thinking of flying him out of the country for treatment. It is hard to fly someone in coma out of the country.
“The same Alex Ekwueme, few months ago, erosion almost washed his home away. What a way to get old?