By Ismaila Chafe
Mr Jalal Arabi, the Permanent Secretary, State House, has refuted media report suggesting that the State House Medical Centre (SHMC), had received N11.01billion as appropriation for the period 2015-2017.
Arabi’s refutal is contained in a statement by Mr Attah Esa, the Deputy Director, Information in the State House, Abuja on Sunday.
According to him, out of the total capital appropriation of N2.9billion and recurrent appropriation of N465.9million for the period under reference, only the sum of N969.6million (representing 32.97%) for Capital and N225.5million (representing 48.41%) for recurrent was actually released.
He also revealed that there was zero capital allocation for the Medical Centre in 2017, while out of the N331.7million being recurrent appropriation for 2017, the actual amount released up to September was N91.3million, representing 27.5 per cent.
The Permanent Secretary emphasised that the above figures were verifiable from the Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
He 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 Centre continued to provide free services to the over 10,000 registered patients annually.
He added that the Centre had also continued to execute on-going projects.
Giving further insight into the scope of the 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.
He said: “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.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the State House Medical Centre has come under serious criticisms, from different quarters, over lack of drugs and equipment at the facility.
The House of Representatives, had on Oct. 12, inaugurated an ad-hoc committee to investigate the condition of the medical centre.
The house set up the committee following a motion raised by Henry Archibong (PDP-Akwa Ibom) at the plenary on Thursday, alleging that despite huge budgetary allocations, the clinic lacked necessary facilities, drugs and other consumables.
The wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, on Oct. 9, had criticised the management of the facility, and called for a probe of the Centre.
She lamented the poor state of health facilities in the hospital despite the huge budgetary allocation to it.
However, Arabi, in an earlier statement on Oct. 2, said the State House Medical Centre, would be commercialised and repositioned to offer qualitative and efficient services.