Lawmakers enjoy free treatment at Aso Rock clinic – Presidency

According to reports, the Presidency on Sunday said members of the National Assembly were among persons who enjoyed free medical services from the State House Medical Centre which the federal lawmakers are currently investigating.

It also said the centre received only N1.195bn as appropriation between 2015 and 2017 contrary to the reported N11.01bn.

The House of Representatives had last week resolved to investigate the “deplorable condition” of the clinic and its inability to deliver basic medical services.

The investigation is expected to cover how the facility utilised its budget for its operations since 2015.

But a statement by the Deputy Director (Information) of the State House, Mr. Attah Esa, quoted the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Jalal Arabi, as saying that federal lawmakers had also been enjoying free medical services in the facility.

“Giving further insight into the scope of the Medical Centre’s clientele, Arabi stressed that apart from the Presidency, other beneficiaries of the free services include political appointees, the military, para-military, other security agencies, members of the National Assembly, and the general public,” the statement read.

He said considering the “unrestricted” patronage base and free services being rendered, there would definitely be gaps between demand and supply of medical equipment and consumables at certain stages.

“Considering the unrestricted patronage base and free services of the State House Medical Centre, coupled with the funding hiccups and periodic receipts, it may not be far-fetched to notice gaps between demand and supply of medical equipment and consumables at certain stages of the budget circle,” Arabi explained.

The Permanent Secretary put the total appropriation to the facility between 2015 and 2017 at N3.406bn, adding that there was zero allocation for the medical centre in 2017.

The statement read, “The attention of the Presidency has been drawn to recent media reports suggesting that the State House Medical Centre had received N11.01bn as appropriation for the period 2015-2017.

“According to the Permanent Secretary, State House, Jalal Arabi, contrary to the above claims, out of the total Capital Appropriation of N2,941,062,044..00 and Recurrent Appropriation of N465,935,358.00 for the period under reference, only the sum of N969,681,821.53 (representing 32.97 per cent) for Capital and N225,575,200.60 (representing 48.41 per cent) for recurrent was actually released.

“Arabi also said it may interest the public to know that there was zero capital allocation for the Medical Centre in 2017, while out of the N331,730,211.00 being recurrent appropriation for 2017, the actual amount released up to September was N91,370,053.60 (representing only 27.54 per cent).

“The Permanent Secretary emphasised that the above figures are verifiable from the Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning.”

“He observed that during the three-year period under review (indeed two years since no capital allocation for 2017), and despite the shortfalls between budgetary provisions and actual releases, the medical centre continued to provide free services to the over 10,000 registered patients annually. In addition, the centre has continued to execute ongoing projects.”

In resolving to probe the clinic, the House acted on a motion moved by a member, Mr. Henry Archibong, at its plenary session presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.

The clinic was alleged to have received budgetary allocations in excess of N3bn in each of the years, 2015; 2016; and 2017.

The funds were reported to have been voted for “upgrading and provision of necessary drugs and equipment.”

Lawmakers observed that in spite of the allocations, the clinic could not render basic services.

The motion secured the majority voice vote of members. The House Committee on Health care Service was directed to conduct the investigation within three months and report to the plenary session.

The committee is chaired by a member of the All Progressives Congress from Imo State, Mr. Chike Okafor.


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