The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has told State House officials in Abuja to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from foreign trips for medical treatment. The ninth Senate said that was the only way to ensure the State House clinic becomes functional this year.
The Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs gave the warning when the State House Permanent Secretary, Mr Tijani Umar, appeared before the panel to defend his 2021 budget estimates. The State House official had presented a budget of N19.7bn for 2021, out of which N1.3bn was proposed for the State House Clinic.
It would be recalled that the wife of the president, Mrs Aisha a few years back raised an alarm that despite the billions spent on the State House Clinic, the place cannot boast of a Panadol tablet. The outburst by the president’s wife received mixed reaction but her revelation was apt because the president embarks on several medical trips to other countries of the world from Nigeria, which is supposed to be the giant of Africa.
Meanwhile reacting to the proposal, the Chairman of the Senate panel, Senator Danjuma La’ah, said the committee would approve the budget for the State House Clinic but insisted that the president and other top officials of his government should no longer be flown abroad for medical treatment. In an interview with journalists after defending his budget, the Permanent Secretary promised to put necessary arrangements in place to meet the medical needs of the president and other top officials once the budget was approved.
He said, “We have appealed to the committee to assist us with the presidential wing of the State House Clinic. The N1.3bn is absolutely inadequate when you juxtapose the amount proposed, the labour, and the status of the principals that the project is going to serve. When compared with worldwide standards you see that it is not anything near what we need. It (the clinic) is considered a legacy project for us because we want to leave something down. It is not correct to say the state house clinic is in comatose. It is not.