Why Aisha Buhari Raised Issues With State House Clinic
If it came from a member of the opposition, people would tag Aisha Buhari's latest statement acrimonious, antagonistic and political.
On Monday, October 10, Nigerians were treated to a surprise again, as the wife of the President raised an alarm on the state of the Aso Rock Clinic.
The clinic is meant to offer medical services to the President, Vice President, their families and those under the employment of the presidency plus other entitled public servants, but it appears the place was a shadow of itself when the wife of the President visited.
"Could I be dreaming?" she may have thought.
President Muhammadu Buhari had travelled to the United Kingdom two times in 6 months for medical treatment and the picture seems clearer now that his wife is raising alarm.
Every year, huge sums of money are allocated to the clinic; funds that could make a huge difference in teaching hospital, but it appears the beauty is just on the outer part of the building and not in its facilities.
Also Read: Aisha Buhari Blasts Aso Rock Clinic CMD
For Aisha Buhari, the situation in the Aso Rock clinic is nothing short of damning.
Allocations To State House Clinic
Let us trace issues back a bit.
In 2014, a total of 705 million Naira was allocated for the construction of a VIP Wing at the State House Clinic.
In that budget of 2014, the 705 million Naira was higher than what the then government of Goodluck Jonathan budgeted as cost for the building of new wards, laboratories and all other developmental projects in 2 university teaching hospitals.
In 2016 that amount was raised to 3.219 billion Naira, apparently because president Buhari wanted it to be in a better shape, but the “go to London advice” that came when he was ill appears to have taken his mind off the state of things at the clinic.
The 3.219 billion Naira was meant to cover the completion of ongoing work, procurement of drugs and other medical equipment. But the state of the hospital remained less than par.
In the 2017 budget, the allocation was lowered to 331.7 million Naira and the poor state showed no improvement.
A new budget will soon be sent to the National Assembly, if the government would keep its October proposed date and more provision would be made for the clinic.
But in spite of the huge sums that have been pumped into the clinic, it still could not boast of syringe, gloves and drugs – not even Paracetamol which sells for 50 Naira per sachet.
This is according to the First Daughter, who visited the facility and was so taken aback by the situation there that she went on Instagram to air her grievances.
“More than N3billion budgeted for the State House clinic and workers there don’t have the equipment to work with? Why?
“Where is the money going to? Medication only stocked once since the beginning of the year? Why? State House Permanent Secretary please answer.
“Why isn’t there simple Paracetamol, gloves, syringes… Why do patients/staff have to buy what they need in the state house clinic?” posts attributed to Zahra Buhari's Instagram page read.
After these concerns were raised, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Jalal Arabi, dismissed allegations of misappropriation and withholding of funds to cater for supplies, saying the medical centre needed more funding to augment budgetary allocation.
"It is overwhelmed by the number of persons attended to free of charge. No one pays for anything at the clinic, not even card or consultation fee", he stressed, while making a case for the state of things.
"I know people will insinuate and give all sorts of reasons because they don’t ask but it will be foolhardy and madness for anybody in his senses to defraud a medical centre of a kobo and toying with people’s lives.
"No sane person will do that, so the truth of the matter is that the hospital is being run on subvention and appropriation; if it comes we pile the drugs; but the truth is the drugs are always overwhelmed by the number of people who use the centre, because it is not controlled," he said.
Can an over N3.3 billion budget really be insufficient to fund a State House clinic? Also, who are the overwhelming amount of people that use the facility as claimed by the Permanent Secretary?
These are the questions the authorities owe Nigerians now.