President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday evening returned to the country after visiting his doctor in the United Kingdom.
His plane touched down at the Presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe international airport, Abuja, at 6:30 p.m.
Buhari, who left Nigeria on Tuesday, was earlier scheduled to return to Nigeria on Saturday.
Among those who received the President at the airport were the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello and the Permanent Secretary State House, Jalil Arabia.
Others were the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu and Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
President Buhari recently declared his intention to run for a second term next year, but many people in Nigeria, including some former presidents, have called on him to step down because of concerns about his health.
After Buhari visited Washington to meet with President Trump late last month, he surprised reporters by not returning directly to Nigeria but instead making what his media team called a “technical stopover” in London. His aides later confirmed that he received medical treatment while in Britain.
The President’s’ aides have insisted that the president is healthy and capable of running for office again, claiming that his political enemies are exaggerating any health concerns to attack him.
In April 2016, months before his first medical trip to London, Buhari condemned the use of Nigerian resources on international medical expenses.
“While this administration will not deny anyone of his or her fundamental human rights, we will certainly not encourage expending Nigerian hard-earned resources on any government official seeking medical care abroad, when such can be handled in Nigeria,” Buhari said, according to a statement from the Health Ministry at the time.
During his campaign the president promised to end “medical tourism,” the practice of Nigerian politicians receiving medical treatment abroad even as most citizens are forced to rely on underfunded state medical services.
After what was reported to have been motorbike accident in January, the president’s son, Yusuf Buhari, was also treated abroad, although the president’s aides would not confirm where he was treated.
Nigerians see Buhari’s actions on health care as hypocritical, said Yemi Adamolekun, executive director of Enough Is Enough, a coalition of groups committed to building a culture of good government and public accountability in Nigeria. “As he’s getting a superior standard of health care for himself and his son, he’s done virtually nothing to invest in health care infrastructure and provision in Nigeria,” Ms. Adamolekun said.
This year Nigeria spent 3.9 percent of its budget on health care, a fraction of the 15 percent target set by the United Nations.
“Health professionals have been on strike now for three weeks, and they aren’t even talking about it,” Ms. Adamolekun said, referring to the government. “So we have poor health infrastructure, an exodus of qualified medical staff and now a strike with no conversation on how to fix it, yet our president jumps off to the U.K. for his own health.”
A nationwide strike of 72,000 public health care workers has crippled medical services in state hospitals across Nigeria, and many more are expected to join the protest in the next few days.
Biobelemoye Josiah, president of a coalition of unions involved in the strike, said that health care in Nigeria had suffered under Mr. Buhari’s administration. “There has long been medical tourism because our hospitals are grossly underfunded and that has continued,” Mr. Josiah said.