The White House has announced plans to build a new State House clinic within the Presidential Villa’s precinct, with the goal of providing first-class medical services to the first citizens.
The plans for the construction follow President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the location of the clinic within the villa.
The state-of-the-art clinic is expected to be completed within the next two years, before the end of Buhari’s presidency.
The Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs has already visited the site as part of its oversight function to learn more about how the budgetary allocation to State House is being used.
This comes as Tijani Umar, the Permanent Secretary of State House, has lamented that the non-release of full budgetary allocation to State House has become a challenge, citing the fact that some of the facilities at the nation’s seat of power have become obsolete.
Only about N5,083 billion, or about 58 percent, of the N8,699 billion budgeted for State House in the 2018 fiscal year was released, leaving an outstanding balance of about N3,616 billion, according to Umar.
Umar told the committee that only about N2 billion of the N6,955 billion budgeted for 2019 was released, accounting for about 38% of the total amount, leaving a shortfall of about N4 billion. In 2020, a total of N4,878 billion was appropriated and released in full.
In response to journalist questions, the Permanent Secretary stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the economy.
“First and foremost, let me say that we are privileged to be in this position, to be able to discharge these huge responsibilities, and I’m also happy that you raised the issue of funding challenges,” he said when asked how the State House management was dealing with the funding challenges.
” I’d also like to take this opportunity to make a clear distinction between appropriation and release. In 2018, about N8 billion was appropriated, of which only about N5 billion was released, as you mentioned. Looking at the magnitude of the challenges we face on a daily basis, it’s clear that it’s affecting our performance. However, we have a tradition of caution, and we have not lost sight of the international challenges we face, particularly with COVID, in terms of how much money the country as a whole makes.
“However, I would like to point out that the State House requires a significant amount of support and funding. Especially since we’re dealing with the phase-out of a lot of infrastructure that has reached the end of its useful life.
“We have a problem with our ICT infrastructure, we have a problem with our equipment in the Conference Centre here, kitchen equipment, we have a problem with telecommunications, and we have a problem with operational and utility vehicles that are slowly approaching the end of their lives and need to be replaced.
“But, in general, I believe the most significant intervention we need is in the design and construction of the Presidential wing of the State House Clinic, which is of strategic national importance and is being done as a legacy project.
“And by the time this administration leaves office, we will have the Presidential Wing of the State House Clinic in place, demonstrating that all of the general public’s observations, hopes, and aspirations for the State House Clinic and its facilities have been realized.
“For the time being, we have begun in earnest with the activities required for the construction, and we have received the necessary approvals. The Bureau of Public Procurement has not raised any objections.
“We have already directed the contractor, because he is coming in the form of a turnkey project, to mobilize and take over the site, as well as to develop the necessary drawings and geotechnical survey reports that we have so that we can complete this project in the two years that we have set for ourselves.”
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“It is going to be delivered over two budget years: 2021 and 2022, and we have not yet finalised is a turnkey project, we need the contractors to finish the development of the drawings and other necessary documents that we need, and for them to give us a conclusive estimate for the building,” he said when asked how much the project would cost.
“After that, we’ll move on to the issue of equipping the building after it’s been delivered, and then we’ll present it to the BPP for consideration.”
When asked if the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs had made a commitment to ensure that funds appropriated were released, Umar responded, “I think, you know, during our meeting or interaction with the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs, it became very clear to the membership of that committee.”
“You know, the entire delegation that came today, what we need to do isn’t just for the executive branch. We need all of the support we can get from the National Assembly because this is a project of national proportions and significance.”
Prof Ibrahim Gambari, the President’s Chief of Staff, as well as members of the Senate Committee and the State House management staff, were present at the meeting.