The decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend his scheduled medical trip to London may not be unrelated to two main reasons: protocol and the lack of urgency of the medical treatment he required.
Both diplomatic and multiple non-diplomatic but reliable sources told our correspondent on Saturday that current COVID-19 protocols the UK require all non-essential travellers to quarantine before entry.
Exceptions are only made for emergencies or pre-arranged high level diplomatic travels. Buhari’s visit does not fall within any of these categories.
Our sources said, “The President would have been required to quarantine, perhaps for 10 days, because his medical trip is not an emergency and the law in the UK is not a respecter of persons. The requirement would not have been waived.”
If Buhari had travelled, it would have been his eighth medical trip since he was elected six years ago.
Our sources however said his cancelled Friday medical trip was not related to an undisclosed ailment which kept the President away in an undisclosed London hospital for over 107 days between May and August 2017.
“His medical team made the decision that his Friday trip as neither an emergency nor a life-threatening one. Otherwise, he would have travelled and it’s unlikely that the COVID-19 protocol might have stood in the way,” our sources said.
One diplomatic source said, “From what I have read in the news, it could be a medical reason why it was postponed, because it was a medical reason why he was reportedly going in the first place.”
Responding to insinuations by Nigerian protesters and opposition groups in London that the President could be shying away from being waylaid, the diplomat source said, “Everyone is free to protest in the UK, so long as they do so within the law.
“All sorts of groups protest in Whitehall outside the houses of parliament and Number 10 Downing Street all the time.”
The Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the President, Malam Garba Shehu, declined to answer questions about why the President’s trip was postponed.
On Thursday, the Presidency publicly announced that Buhari would make a medical trip to London only to announce a postponed without reasons.