The Nigerian Presidency has described media reports suggesting that the State House Medical Centre had received N11.01billion as appropriation for the period 2015-2017 as false.
According to the Permanent Secretary, State House, Jalal A. Arabi, contrary to the above claims, out of the total Capital Appropriation of N2,941,062,044.00 and Recurrent Appropriation of N465,935,358.00 for the period under reference, only the sum of N969,681,821.53 (representing 32.97%) for Capital and N225,575,200.60 (representing 48.41%) for Recurrent was actually released.
Arabi also said it may interest the public to know that there was zero capital allocation for the Medical Centre in 2017, while out of the N331,730,211.00 being recurrent appropriation for 2017, the actual amount released up to September was N91,370,053.60 (representing only 27.54%).
The Permanent Secretary emphasised that the above figures are verifiable from the Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
The House of Representatives had last week set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the condition of the Clinic after adopting a motion raised by Henry Archibong (PDP-Akwa Ibom) at the plenary on Thursday.
The lawmakers had in the motion alleged that despite huge budgetary allocations, the clinic lacks necessary facilities, drugs and even such as syringes.
His motion was triggered by a complaint earlier made by the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha over the management of the facility.
“In the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Appropriation Acts, the Clinic was allocated the sum of ₦3.94 billion, ₦3.87 billion and ₦3.2 billion respectively, for upgrading and provision of necessary drugs and equipment,” Mr. Archibong who added that doctors working at the Clinic were also complaining about illegal deductions from their salaries and allowances said.
The President’s wife had at forum on Reproductive, Maternal, Nutrition, Child Advocacy and Health and Nutrition (RMNCAHN) complained that the Clinic lack basic equipment and drugs, situation which she said she discovered when she wanted to access treatment.
“I called the Aso Clinic to find out if they have an X-Ray machine, they said it’s not working”
“In the end I had to go to a hospital owned and operated by foreigners 100 per cent”
“There is a budget for the Hospital and if you go there now, you will see a number of constructions going on but they don’t have a single syringe there.”
“What is the purpose of the buildings if there are no equipment there to work with?”
“You can imagine what happens across the states to governors wives if this will happen to me in Abuja,” she said.
But the Permanent Secretary observed that during the three-year period under review (indeed two years since no capital allocation for 2017), and despite the shortfalls between budgetary provisions and actual releases, the Medical Centre continued to provide free services to the over 10,000 registered patients annually. In addition, the Centre has continued to execute on-going projects.
Giving further insight into the scope of the Medical Centre’s clientele, Arabi stressed that apart from the Presidency, other beneficiaries of the free services include political appointees, the military, para-military, other security agencies, members of the National Assembly, and the general public.
In the words of the Permanent Secretary, “Considering the unrestricted patronage base and free services of the State House Medical Centre, coupled with the funding hiccups and periodic receipts, it may not be far-fetched to notice gaps between demand and supply of medical equipment and consumables at certain stages of the budget circle.”