The presidency on Tuesday dismissed a report detailing how President Muhammadu Buhari proposed N3.8 billion as capital spending for State House’s clinic, but failed to provide facts contradicting the story that showed the figure outweighed similar spending for 16 teaching hospitals.
The report, published by PREMIUM TIMES as an analysis of the 2016 national budget, showed that the State House Clinic would receive N787 million more in capital allocation than all the nation’s 16 teaching hospitals combined – that is if the National Assembly approves the proposal as submitted by the president.
The State House Clinic provides healthcare to President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, their families and other employees of the Presidency – all possibly less than a thousand.
Federal teaching hospitals cater for the health needs of tens of millions of Nigerians, train medical doctors and other health professionals for the nation while also serving as top medical research centres.
While the presidential clinic received N3.87billion as proposed capital allocation, the country’s 16 federal government-owned teaching hospitals individually only got a fraction of that vote.
According to the proposed budget, N212, 539,245 is allocated for capital projects at the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital in Lagos, while the capital allocation for the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Kaduna, is N230, 904,795.
Capital allocation for the University College Hospital, Ibadan, is N230,904,795; University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu (N218,335,908); University of Benin Teaching Hospital (N212,886,502); Obafemi Awolowo Teaching Hospital, Ile Ife (N162,622,221); University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (N166,802,164); University of Jos Teaching Hospital (N228,717,880); and University of Port Harcourt (N169,498,392).
The capital allocation for other hospitals are: University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (N201,082,446); University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (N215,151,873); Usman Dan Fodio University Teaching hospital, Sokoto (N279,000,000); Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital (N210,380,376); Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi (N166,188,931); University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (N198,715,702); and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (N229,005,992).
Health experts criticised the apparently lopsided spending plan in response to the PREMIUM TIMES’s report Tuesday.
But the presidency described the story as “insensitive” and “off the mark”.
“This report is not simply off the mark but one that is insensitive to the government’s effort to improve medical facilities at home in Nigeria,” a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, read.
The statement admitted, as pointed out in our story, that the government budgeted N3.8 billion to be spent on the State House Clinic.
However, in what seemed a deliberate attempt at misleading readers, Mr. Shehu, without giving details, said the budget for health institutions in the country was N200 billion, a sweeping figure covering recurrent and capital costs for not just teaching hospitals stated in the PREMIUM TIMES’ report, but for all government-owned health institutions.
The statement said the total budget for teaching hospitals was more than 50 per cent of the N200 billion. Mr. Shehu asked Nigerians to seek out the details for themselves.
He also said that the State House Clinic serves not just the president and staff of the presidency, but government officials and others.
“The increased spending on government health institutions in the current budget should be seen in the light of the administration’s plan to improve medical facilities at home as a way of discouraging overseas trips in search of treatment by citizens which eat away from our foreign exchange,” he stated.