Operations in N4.5 billion American hospital stalled almost a year after funds release

A House of Representatives inquiry is underway into the long delay in the takeoff of the American Hospital and American University of Medical Sciences in Abuja nearly one year after President Goodluck Jonathan authorized the release of about N4.5 billion funding.

Lawmakers said Tuesday they would not be “judgmental” until investigations are through, but agreed the funds may have been “mismanaged or embezzled.”
The House committees on Health and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are to establish the whereabouts of the money and why the project has failed to commence operations nine months after funding was released.
The project was first conceived as a public private partnership (PPP) in 2005 between the federal government and the New York-based AFAM comprehensive healthcare group.
Funding was expected from the federal government, represented by the c and American investors through the American Hospital Limited and the American Medical and Environmental Sciences Companies.
Part of the federal government undertakings was the provision of the land for the site of the project along Airport road in Abuja, lawmakers said.
Five years later, in July 2010, the Association of Local Government of Nigeria(ALGON) acquired 30 per cent of the shares from the American Hospital Limited for the purpose of  facilitating the training of one medical doctor and two allied health personnel from each of the 774 local government areas with ALGON scholarship.
Beneficiaries were expected to return to practice in their respective communities in the Comprehensive Health Centre, which ALGON claimed it was building in all the local government areas of the country and the FCT since 2007.
Mr. Jonathan approved the plan in 2010 and authorized the release of N4.5 billion for the project, being interests and penalties owed by the local governments, of which N3.8 billion of the sum was released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Lawmakers say the money was transferred in July 2011 into an illegal account and several withdrawals and transfers were carried out outside banking hours leaving a balance of N1.3 billion, which was paid for the American hospital.
“There was an apparent lack of accountability and transparency in the management and use of the funds,” said Kingsley Chinda, who sponsored the motion seeking an investigation.
 “Unless urgent steps are taken, the primary aim for which the money was approved would be defeated and the nation’s poor health care sector and teeming Nigerians would continue to suffer untold hardship,” he said.
A report on the project on expected within four weeks.

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