President Muhammadu Buhari and other Presidency officials have been told by the Senate to stop embarking on medical trips abroad. To achieve this, the apex legislative chamber asked the State House officials to do everything within their jurisdiction to upgrade the State House Clinic and make it functional for the use of the President and others beginning from this year.
The Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs gave the admonition, yesterday, when the State House Permanent Secretary, Tijani Umar, appeared before it to defend the 2021 Budget of the unit. Umar had presented a budget of N19.7 billion for 2021, out of which N1.3 billion was proposed for the State House Clinic. Speaking on the proposal, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Danjuma La’ah, said that the committee would approve the budget for the State House Clinic.
He, however, insisted that the President and other top officials of his government should stop going abroad for medical treatment. He said: “Our President is not a man to be taken out anytime or anything that happens to him on sickness matter. “He must attend our clinic here and we must make sure that we equip our hospital to the best of our ability so that any emergency will be first taken care of here before flying out if the need arises.
“The N1.3 billion for State House Clinic is already approved. I want this thing done and I want the credit to go to the whole committee – leave a legacy for the State House that the clinic we requested was done within the shortest time. “Oversight will be done monthly, if all that is needed is provided and we will give two years to complete it.”
Speaking with journalists at the end of the budget defence, the Permanent Secretary assured the lawmakers that necessary steps would be taken to meet medical needs of the President and other top officials as soon as the budget was approved. His word: “It is not correct to say the State House Clinic is in comatose. It is not. We have realigned so many things and one of the fundamental challenges we have dealt with is the sustainable supply of drugs and consumables. Don’t forget that this is derived from the budget.
“We have appealed to the committee to assist us with the Presidential wing of the State House Clinic. “The N1.3 billion is absolutely inadequate when you juxtapose the amount proposed and the labour – the status of the principals that project is going to serve and you compare with worldwide standards, you see that it is not anything near what we need. “It is considered a legacy project for us because we want to leave something down.”