Even as it labors to swat aside allegations of corruption arising from the award of $25 billion contracts by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), a fresh corruption scandal has erupted in the Presidency. This time, it is swirling around the State House Medical Centre, on which the whistle was blown by Mrs. Aisha Buhari, wife of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking last week at the opening of a two-day stakeholders meeting on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn Child, Adolescent Health and Nutrition held at the Presidential Villa, the first lady lamented the wretched situation at the State House Medical Centre, saying the facility lacks the most basic of things, including syringes, required in a hospital despite huge budgetary allocations. She lamented that she had to use the services of a private clinic owned by non-Nigerians when she was told that the X-Ray machine at the State House Medical Centre was not functioning. She lambasted the Dr. Hussain Munir, Chief Medical Director of the center, over its poor state, adding that the use of resources allocated to the facility must be probed.
Documents obtained by SaharaReporters showed that the budget approved for the clinic in 2016 was N3.9 billion. However, the total amount spent on the purchase of drugs and other consumables was N25,983,620.00.
This year, the documents stated, the approved budget for drugs and consumables stood at N290,455,312.00. From this sum, only N14,786,736.00 has been expended on drugs, with just N15 million spent on consumables.
The facility, revealed the document, received no capital allocation for 2017.
In a letter written by Dr. Munir to Mr. Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to the President, the Medical Director of the State House Medical Centre stated that the expenditure on consumables and drugs for 2017 was for “stop gap procurements.”
Dated October 3, the letter explained that “stop gap procurements are done as a temporal measure pending the actual quarterly procurement as presented in the budget.” It added that quarterly drugs and consumables presented for the first two quarters of this year were not supplied.
This, he claimed, resulted in frequent stock depletion, which necessitated another stop gap request for emergency drug supply on July 5. The request, added Dr. Munir, has remained unprocessed till date.
In August, the Medical Director said the 3rd quarter request for drugs and consumables was submitted, but has elicited no response till date.
“The management of the State House Medical Centre has strived to ensure that services are not disrupted with the meager consumables at its disposal. With attendance reaching almost 800 patients visits per week, we have no extra allocations apart from the monthly imprest of N1 million, which has proved insufficient to cater for the needs of the hospital,” stated Dr. Munir.
He added that the State House Medical Centre has been unable to access funds from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), which represent patients’ monthly contributions and are meant to bridge the shortfall in drugs and consumables. As such, it has been deprived of extra funds that would have augmented budgetary allocations. Despite the challenges, the Medical Director claimed that doctors and nurses are available at the hospital round the clock. Dr. Munir recalled that on 13 November 2015 and 18 April 2016 he informed Mr. Kyari and the Permanent Secretary, State House, respectively of the challenges inherited from the previous administration. He equally stated that he made recommendations to improve services at the facility.
He further disclosed that in April, Messrs. El Hamman Ventures Limited, which submitted proposal to repair the X-Ray machine that had been defective for over nine months, did not get approval to commence work until 28 August.
A letter conveying the approval, which was obtained by SaharaReporters, showed that the job was awarded at the cost of N4,028,181.71. The letter, signed by Mr. O.I. Ilesanmi on behalf of Permanent Secretary, State House, gave a one-week job completion period.
The documents further revealed that attention has been devoted more to the erection of physical structures than the provision of services, including very basic ones. According to the documents, ongoing construction works at the State House Medical Centre include extension of its dental wing, reclamation of its recently acquired land, rehabilitation of 20 two -bedroom bungalows, 10 one-bedroom flats and 10 one-bedroom studio flats. Others are additional earth filling on a recently acquired land, construction of a VIP Wing, construction of a block of two-bedroom flats, procurement of medical equipment and upgrade of wired and wireless network at the facility.