The House unanimously agreed to carry out the investigation, sequel to a motion entitled: ‘’Need to investigate the deplorable condition of the State House Clinic and the alleged deductions from the salaries and allowances of the medical staff”, moved by Rep. Henry Archibong, PDP, Akwa Ibom.
The House also commended the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, for bringing the issue to Public glare.
In his submission on the motion, the lawmaker, who said the clinic has, over the years, been receiving annual budgetary allocations to procure equipment to function optimally, noted that in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Appropriation Acts, the Clinic was allocated the sums of N3.94 billion, N3.87 billion and N3.2 billion respectively, for upgrading and provision of necessary drugs and equipment.
Within the 36 months, what the 16 teaching hospitals collectively got for capital projects were: 2015: N1.424 billion; 2016: 3.333 billion and 2017: N1.943 billion.
Archibong observed that in spite of the huge budgetary allocations, the Clinic lacks necessary facilities such as syringes, drugs and equipment needed to save lives.
Recall that this deplorable condition of the clinic made the First Lady, Aisha Buhari to complain publicly during a stakeholders’ meeting, lamenting her inability to access even the simplest drugs at the State House Clinic.
Noting that the clinic was established to take care of the health needs of the President and Vice President, their family members as well as members of staff of the presidential Villa, he lamented that if this pathetic situation could happen under the nose of the presidency, “you can imagine what will happen elsewhere. It is a shame on this nation.
“This is unacceptable. Less than three years of this government, this amount has been spent. It is unacceptable that the Permanent Secretary and the Minister (Minister of Health) have not resigned. It cannot happen in other smaller countries. Is this the change we have been waiting for? This is a question.”
The House, however, resolved to set up an Ad-hoc committee to investigate the deplorable condition of the State House Clinic and the alleged deductions from the salaries and allowances of the medical staff and report back within three weeks for further legislative action.
Recall that the Permanent Secretary attached to the State House, Mr Jalal Arabi, when the first story on this issue was published in one of the dailies had said that since the clinic renders free services, no matter how much was spent on supply, drugs would finish and there would be a problem if there is no allocation.
Asked how much has so far been released to the clinic this year, he responded: “Honesty, I can’t say offhand, but it’s really paltry and I don’t want to blame anybody. It is because of the situation we find ourselves in terms of revenue generation. But no matter how much is released, so long you don’t commercialise it (the clinic) or there’s a way you generate money to replenish whatever given out, it would finish.”
Arabi added that: “If you leave your gate wide open, like we do at the State House Medical Centre, patients would come, and if they come, you prescribe drugs and give them based on availability. So long as you don’t charge a kobo, they’re coming in and out and you’re giving them drugs, certainly, one day, the drugs will finish. And if they finish, and you don’t have appropriation to replenish the drugs, what do you do?”
Asked if he meant there was no appropriation, he responded: “No! No! No! There are appropriations, but whatever is appropriated is released based on the release you get from the Ministry of Finance. If it’s released, you buy (drugs) according to what has been released to you.
And if the drugs finish, you’ve to wait until another appropriation since we don’t charge kobo. It’s free medical services. And you dispense with what you have. Unless of course there’s a change of policy that you start charging like other hospitals are doing, then one can be accused of not stocking drugs or consumables.”