President Muhammadu Buhari-led Nigerian government has confirmed that it has spent the sum of N21 billion to upgrade the State House Clinic in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
This was made known by the State House Permanent Secretary, Tijjani Umar after a pre-commissioning inspection of the new Presidential (VIP) Wing of the State House Medical Centre by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mustapha was accompanied by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed and the Minister of State Finance, Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba.
Recall that in 2017, Nigerian First Lady, Aisha Buhari, publicly berated the Chief Medical Director of the State House Medical Centre, Dr. Husain Munir, for the poor state of the health facility.
The Medical Centre was established to take care of the President, Vice-President, their families as well as members of staff of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
But narrating her experience at the clinic and the level of its decay and dilapidation, the First Lady said, “If somebody like Mr. President can spend several months outside Nigeria, then you wonder what will happen to a man in the street.
“Few weeks ago, I was sick as well. They advised me to take the first flight out to London; I refused to go. I said I must be treated in Nigeria because there is a budget for an assigned clinic to take care of us. If the budget is N100m, we need to know how the budget is spent.
“Along the line, I insisted they call Aso Clinic to find out if the X-ray machine is working. They said it was not working. They didn't know I was the one that was supposed to be in that hospital at that very time.
“I had to go to a hospital that was established by foreigners 100 percent. What does that mean?
“I am sure Dr. Munir will not like me saying this but I have to say it out. As the Chief Medical Director, there are a lot of constructions going on in this hospital but there is no single syringe there.”
Meanwhile, Umar said in March 2019, the President had given approval that the State House Medical Centre, Asokoro, which was facing challenges with funding and deterioration of infrastructure and equipment, be scaled down to a clinic until the challenges were addressed.
“Now with the improvement in the problem areas and the addition of the new VIP Wing with state-of-the-art facilities, we can no longer operate as a clinic. It is now to operate as State House Medical Centre.”
He said that all is set for the inauguration of the new world-class facility by the President to add to the growing number of completed and inaugurated projects of the administration, adding that the calibration, testing of equipment and training of medical personnel are ongoing.
He added that the Presidency is determined to ensure that the centre remains fully operational and well-maintained after the inauguration.
Also, Mustapha, while addressing State House correspondents, described the newly built VIP wing as “money well spent.”
But whereas the First Lady in 2017 said, “You are building new building and there is no equipment, no consumables in the hospital and the construction is still going on,” Mustapha said that the project was completed within a year as envisaged and will be commissioned after equipping under a year and a half.
Also, the minister of Finance said she is happy that the project was delivered “dead on time” and “on budget”, saying that funding for the State House Medical Centre was provided on time in the 2022 appropriation.
The minister said, “The facility here is world-class and we are looking forward to the inauguration very soon. I have volunteered myself as one of the people that will come for medical services here on a test run to testify that what we have here is comparable to the best around the world.”