The State House Clinic provides healthcare services to the President, his Vice, their families and other “well meaning” employees of the Presidency – a total of which is possibly not up to one thousand. This tiny fraction of the entire population of the country is marked to receive, according to the proposed 2016 budget as presented by the president, a whopping 3.87 billion naira. On the other hand, the federal teaching hospitals (a total of 16) which not only takes care of the health needs of tens of millions of Nigerians, but also train medical doctors and other health professionals for the nation, as well as serving as research centers, receive only 3.3 billion naira, according to the proposed budget.
Garba Shehu
It is this lopsided and disproportional spending plan that Mallam Garba Shehu, the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity tried to defend with no empirical evidence or detail whatsoever. Not only did he fail to give an indisputable details of his claim, he went on to state that the total budget for health institutions in the country was pegged at 200 billion naira, a figure covering both recurrent and capital cost for not just the teaching hospitals but inclusive of all government-owned health institutions in the country. This I must say, comes to me as a surprise because unless Mallam Shehu is working with a different version of the budget, his claim is untrue based on the very copy presented by Mr President to the National Assembly. Unless Garba Shehu is saying that more 300 billion is allocated to the Health Sector in the budget, which will again be untrue because we all know what went to Health.
Either Mallam Garba Shehu is out to bamboozle everyone of us and take our eyes away from the main issue, or the maths of those that computed the breakdown of the Budget for federal teaching hospitals is wrong. Not one of the teaching hospitals have a spending plan of up to three hundred million naira – they all scaled slightly above two hundred million and when summed up, barely equals N3.3 billion so what fraction of that figure forms 50% of the N200 billion Garba Shehu is talking about? These numbers are not being made up. I have checked out the allocations to the teaching hospitals, the federal medical centers as well as the specialist hospitals owned by the federal government and can categorically state, unequivocally, that all of them put together are not up to what the State House Medical Clinic is to receive. There are certain development that when defies natural comprehension as attained through education, begs for investigation and this is one of such.
One clear thing that Nigerians must know is that the said 3.87 billion naira budgeted for the State House Medical Clinic was only for capital projects, recurrent cost is presently not part of it, therefore imagine what the true figure will look when that is factored in. In the history of that medical facility, not one Nigerian referred to as ‘others’ in Garba’s palance, has ever received medical treatment there unless you are as I stated above, one of the “unique” Nigerians, so what exactly is Garba Shehu talking about it being for everyone and not just for the President and his buddies? If I don’t have a State House ID will I dream of going there to receive treatment?
Our healthcare system is in a state of euroclydon and yabesh due to decades of neglect by our leaders. We have unknowingly pushed many nations to develop their Health Sector and repackaged their medical tourism concept because of our constant patronage -India, England, America, China even Ghana have benefited from us but we remain on one spot, full of motion but no movement. Ordinary Nigerians die of curable illnesses because of poor medical facilities in the country and yet, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari finds it okay to budget that meager sum to the rest of government-owned hospitals while that of the State House alone will gulp the bulk.
I implore you to pay a visit to University of NIGERIA Teaching Hospital, Nsukka and see for yourself, the deplorable shape its in and imagine what 1 billion naira can do in terms of transforming it. Lets tell ourselves the truth, spending 3.87 billion naira on the State House Clinic is not only wrong but an act of sheer wickedness. Thousands of Nigerians die on daily basis in public hospitals due to deficit in medical equipments – for how long do we want this trend to continue? I leave this question for the government to answer.
God help us!
Jeff Okoroafor is a Good Governance Advocate and Civil Rights Activist. The Founder of and a Strategic Team Member for the Bring Back Our Girls.