Despite the N13.59bn budgetary provision for the State House Clinic in the last five years under President Muhammadu Buhari, the facility appears ‘unfit’ to treat his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari. The State House Clinic is meant to treat the president, the vice president, their families and other staff of the presidency.
Kyari, who tested positive for the COVID-19 after a trip to Germany, allegedly shunned the State House Clinic and the special coronavirus treatment centres in Abuja and moved to a private hospital in Lagos.
Credible sources told Daily Trust that the chief of staff to the president opted for Lagos to get a better treatment for the COVID-19 and other complications because of the deteriorating nature of the State House Clinic.
“Facilities at the State House Clinic have been deliberately grounded because of some policies and political intrigues while some equipment could not function because their subscriptions at the factories they were manufactured abroad have not been renewed,” one of the sources said.
“The hospital is not functioning the way it should function because several reagents are also not available,” he said. Another source said, “The status of the hospital has been changed, it is now not bigger than any primary health care centre…
Therefore, there are certain surgeries or consultations that we cannot carry out even if we have the manpower and the facilities.” Asked to give more details on the status of the hospital, the source said, “It is not higher than a primary health care centre.
Of course we have the doctors, the nurses and other specialists, but the facility cannot take charge of some ailments because of what I told you earlier. “The issue of its status in the eye of the powers that be is that it is just a clinic meant to attend to a select group. May be this is why the chief of staff to the president moved to Lagos,” he said.
How villa clinic was reduced to ‘primary’ health facility
Daily Trust recalled that the change of status of the villa clinic came to the fore during the budget defence of 2019 by officials from the presidency. The then Permanent Secretary of the State House, Jalal Arabi, at the budget defence before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, on Monday, April 1, 2019, said President Buhari had directed that the State House Medical Centre (SHMC) revert to a clinic to serve the original purpose for which it was established.
A statement issued by Attah Esa, Deputy Director (Information), State House, quoted the permanent secretary telling the senators that, “without prejudice to what is currently obtainable at SHMC, the intention to revert to a clinic is a presidential directive.
This is to make sure that the facility is functional and serves the purpose for which it was established, ab initio.”
Arabi also told journalists after the budget defence that the reversion of the centre to a clinic was a case of “cutting one’s coat according to one’s cloth.” He said, “It was initially meant to serve the first and second families and those working within and around the villa.
The overstretching of facilities at the medical centre by patients is some of the challenges the centre have been going through. It wasn’t meant for that purpose.
“Nobody was charging anyone for any services and relying on appropriation means we will depend on subvention when it comes to run the Centre.
Whatever comes is what you utilise and if the last patient comes in to take the last drugs based on the last budgetary release, that is it and we have to wait till another release is done. “But this new development means that services will be streamlined to a clinic that will serve those that it was meant to serve when it was conceived,” Arabi said.