Sunday, November 28, 2021

BudgIT slams Buhari for budgeting N21.9 billion to build 14-bed clinic at Presidential Villa

BudgIT, a civic organisation, has described as “outrageous” and “inflated”, the N21

• November 24, 2021
President Muhammadu Buhari and State House Medical Centre, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari and State House Medical Centre, Abuja

BudgIT, a civic organisation, has described as “outrageous” and “inflated”, the N21.9 billion allocated for the construction of a 14-bed Presidential Clinic at the State House Medical Centre, Abuja.

In its latest publication titled “Frivolous, Suspicious and Inflated Projects in FG’s Budget Proposal”, where it analysed the projects in the 2022 budget proposal, BudgIT recalled that the same project gulped N1.9 billion between 2019 and 2021.

“The sums of N395m, N416m, and N1.06bn were allocated for this same project in 2019, 2020, and 2021 federal budgets, respectively. It is outrageous that this 14-bed presidential wing still needs N21.9bn,” the organisation said.

The Permanent Secretary, State House, Umar Tijjani, had in October said the physical construction of the clinic would commence November 1, by Julius Berger Nigeria (JBN) and is expected to be completed by December 31, 2022.

“The project was conceived in 2012 by the previous administration and the brief was produced. It was estimated at about N21 billion and the facility contains 14-bed space without a total area of 2,700 square metres. There will be underground and the first floor,” Mr Tijjani said during a budget defence session with the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs.

He added components of the facility to be “two number operating theatres, two number executive suites, two VIP, two isolation and one six-bed isolation area.”

Nonetheless, BudgIT recommended that the budget be reviewed downwards by the National Assembly.

“The National Assembly should review this downwards. Savings from the revised allocation should be reallocated to refurbish and equip at least 500 dilapidated Primary Health Care Centres across Nigeria,” the organisation said.

There is currently a State House Medical Centre servicing the presidency and its staff. The president’s wife Aisha Buhari once berated the centre for not being up to standard.

Despite the billions of allocations, the medical facility in the statehouse remains unfit for President Muhammadu Buhari, as reports showed he has gone on medical trips over 12 times since the assumption of office in 2015.

Although the president has over time faced criticisms for jetting out of the country for healthcare purposes, the minister of information Lai Mohammed slammed critics, on the basis that Mr Buhari has the right to travel for medical treatments.

Recently, the senator representing Kogi West, Smart Adeyemi, had also described the 2022 national budget proposal presented before the National Assembly as “dubious” and “questionable.”

“And you will ask a question, the economy team of Mr President Muhammadu Buhari, are they Nigerians? If they are Nigerians, it means they are not in tune with the reality in this country today. Today we have a large army of unemployed people and you are bringing a budget that is so annoying, so questionable, so dubious,” Mr Adeyemi said. 

Also, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) urged the Buhari regime to cut the budget for the clinic construction, travels “could be better allocated to improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services.”

“Cut the N26 billion presidency budget for the construction of the presidential wing at the State House Medical Centre, local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, ‘sitting allowance’, and ‘welfare package’, and to use some of the savings to address the growing level of deficit, as well as improve public healthcare facilities across the country,” SERAP said in the letter dated 9 October 2021 and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare.

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