NIGERIAN senators have asked State House officials to prevent President Muhammadu Buhari from going on foreign medical trips in the future in order to ensure the presidential villa clinic becomes functional this year.
In April last year, President Buhari arrived in London for a 10-day holiday in what was widely believed that he came to meet with his doctors. Since assuming office in 2015, President Buhari takes his annual leave in the UK every year, where he comes for medical check-ups and for treatment on an undisclosed ailment.
His regular trips abroad have caused a lot of consternation, especially as a the State House clinic has a substantial budget. Yesterday, the State House Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Tijani Umar, appeared before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs to defend his 2021 budget estimates and was told by senators to curtail the president’s foreign medical trips.
For 2021, Alhaji Umar had presented a budget of N19.7bn ($51.3n), out of which N1.3bn was proposed for the State House Clinic. Senator Danjuma La’ah, the chairman of the senate committee, said it 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 response, Alhaji Umar promised to put the 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.
“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.”