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State House Medical Centre only for President, Vice, Villa officials – Presidency

...Other Nigerians to lose free health care offered by facility

Muhammadu Buhari

Permanent Secretary, State House, Jalal Arabi, has revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that the State House Medical Centre revert to a clinic status, and henceforth be used only by people working in the State House.

It therefore implies that other Nigerians who have since been enjoying free health care provided by the facility will cease to benefit from such.

The instruction, he said, was to save the Centre from being overstretched, since it has specific budget on which it runs.

Arabi made the disclosure on Monday in Abuja while defending the facility’s budget for 2019 before Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs.

He said: “Without prejudice to what is currently obtainable at SHMC, the intention to revert to a clinic is a presidential directive. This is to make sure that the facility is functional and serves the purpose for which it was established, ab initio.”

He furthered: “It was initially meant to serve the first and second families and those working within and around the Villa.

“The overstretching of facilities at the Medical Centre by patients is some of the challenges the Centre has been going through. It wasn’t meant for that purpose.

“Nobody was charging anyone for any services and relying on appropriation means we will depend on subvention when it comes to run the Centre.

“Whatever comes is what you utilise, and if the last patient comes in to take the last drugs based on the last budgetary release, that is it and we have to wait till another release is done.

“But this new development means that services will be streamlined to a clinic that will serve those that it was meant to serve when it was conceived.”

According to him, the clinic had a budget of N1.03 billion in 2018 appropriation. Out of the fund, N698 million was earmarked as capital expenditure, while N331.7 million went for overhead cost.

It was further disclosed that total overhead expenditure released for the clinic from January-December 2018 is N331.7 million. The amount represents 99.9 per cent of the budget, while the capital releases on projects is N231.9 million, representing 33.2 per cent.

Recall that Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, had criticized management of the hospital in 2017 for indiscreet management of the clinic’s budgets.

At the time Mrs. Buhari criticized the management, essential drugs and basic infrastructures were unavailable at the Centre.
Coincidentally, it was around the period the president was battling with health conditions he had travelled for over a hundred days to treat abroad.

Responding, Chairman of the Committee, Mr Danjuma La’ah (representing Kaduna South) agreed with the decision to make the Centre function for the purpose it was created.

He said the National Assembly would continue to support adequate funding for the Centre.

“Considering the strategic importance of State House, they are not supposed to lack funds and we will keep encouraging them to utilise releases effectively,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Centre’s budget for 2019 is N14.3 billion. The amount is lower than N15.47 billion it got in 2018.

Though budget for the facility could compare with what about 10 tertiary health institutions get altogether, funding of Nigerian health sector has been very poor, revolving around three to five percent of national budget. The figures are far cry from 15 percent recommended by African Heads of States and Governments in what has since been known as Abuja Declaration.

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