President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the State House Medical Centre revert to a clinic to serve the “original purpose” of its establishment.
According to a senior presidency official, the original purpose of the facility was to serve only the families of the president and vice president and staff of the State House.
The permanent secretary, State House, Jalal Arabi, announced this Monday in Abuja when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs for the 2019 budget defence.
The permanent secretary disclosed that ‘‘without prejudice to what is currently obtainable at SHMC, the intention to revert to a clinic is a Presidential directive. This is to make sure that the facility is functional and serves the purpose for which it was established, ab initio.’’
Later, Mr Arabi explained to journalists after the budget defence that the reversal of the Centre to a Clinic was a case of ‘‘cutting one’s coat according to your cloth.’’
‘‘It was initially meant to serve the first and second families and those working within and around the Villa.
‘‘The overstretching of facilities at the Medical Centre by patients is some of the challenges the Centre has been going through. It wasn’t meant for that purpose.
‘‘Nobody was charging anyone for any services and relying on appropriation means, we will depend on subvention when it comes to run the Centre.
‘‘Whatever comes is what you utilise and if the last patient comes in to take the last drugs based on the last budgetary release, that is it and we have to wait till another release is done.
‘‘But this new development means that services will be streamlined to a clinic that will serve those that it was meant to serve when it was conceived,’’ the permanent secretary said.
The State House Clinic was in the news in 2017 over allegations of mismanagement and lack of essential drugs and facilities.
President Buhari’s wife, Aisha, at the time accused the hospital management of not taking care of the facility in spite all the allocations to the hospital.
Mrs. Buhari called for a probe of the hospital management saying the facility lacked basic amenities.
In 2016, PREMIUM TIMES reported that the amount budgeted for the hospital in the proposed budget was more than what was budgeted for all the 16 federal teaching hospitals in the country.
The management of the clinic however said that between 2015 to 2017, the facility only received N1.2 billion as funds for expenditure.
On Monday, the Centre was a focal point during the two-hour presentation and budget defence by the Permanent Secretary before the Senate Committee.
Mr Arabi disclosed that the Centre had a total budget of N1.03 billion in the 2018 appropriation, with N698 million as capital expenditure and N331.7 million as overhead cost.
The total overhead expenditure released for the Centre from January-December 2018 is N331.7 million, representing 99.9 per cent while the capital releases on projects is N231.9 million, representing 33.2 per cent.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Danjuma La’ah (PDP-Kaduna South) welcomed the proposal to make the SHMC fully functional and ensure that members of the first and second families use the facilities at the clinic.
Mr La’ah assured that committee will support full funding for the Clinic and commended the 2018 budget performance in State House, compared to previous years, despite revenue challenges.
‘‘Considering the strategic importance of State House they are not supposed to lack funds and we will keep encouraging them to utilise releases effectively,’’ he said.
The State House 2019 budget proposal of N14.3 billion is slightly lower than the 2018 Appropriation of 15.47 billion by 7.1 per cent.