During the 2021 Budget Defence at the Nigeria’s National Assembly, the Permanent Secretary of the State House, Tijani Umar claimed that the 1.3 Billion Naira budgeted for the Aso Villa Clinic was too small.
“The N1.3bn is absolutely inadequate when you juxtapose the amount proposed; the labor, and the status of the principals that the project is going to serve,” he said.
This statement suggests that the heavy investment is justifiable because the principals that the clinic will serve are very important people. Yes, the President, his family and their staff are important but the problem is that they are also Nigerians, like others who are not getting adequate healthcare.
Data shows that the allocation to other Nigerians comes to about 40 Billion Naira while 1.3 Billion Naira goes to Aso Villa Clinic alone, serving a minute percentage of people. Despite the recent investment in primary health care through the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund, the health deficit is still very wide and a lot of people lack access to basic healthcare.
Before the announcement by the State House Permanent Secretary, the National Assembly had enjoined the President to stop his foreign medical trips, but if we are truthful to one another, it is shameful that the president has to be told this 5 years into his administration.
Between 2015 and 2017, 10.98 Billion Naira was budgeted for the clinic but First Lady, Aisha Buhari claimed in 2017 that the clinic had no basic equipment and as such, unable to deliver basic healthcare needs.
Data from New Telegraph shows that the sum of 3.94 billion Naira was allocated to the clinic in 2015, 3.87 billion Naira in 2016, N331.70 million naira in 2017 and N1.03 billion in 2018. One wonders if the call for the President to stop his medical trips abroad is a means to justify the high budgetary allocation by the State House.
Research has also shown that the primary problem of Nigerian institutions is not money but management. The exorbitant allocations of old have not yielded any fruit, so one wonders what will become of this new one.
Unfortunately, the president and his family still fly outside the country to get medical treatment and this trend does not look like it will stop anytime soon. Instead of this unreasonable allocation to the State House Clinic, more Primary Healthcare centers should be equipped and funding should be spread across health institutions in the country.
No one needs a prophet to forsee that a disparity in health allocations like this, would not only further widen the inequality gap and alienate people from the leaders but one day drive the poor to rebel against the elite in this country.
“Ayọ̀délé Ìbíyẹmí is a lifetime student of Literature. He is also a reader who writes occasionally. For him, words are what makes the intractable world livable. Ayo tweets at @Ayo_eagles. He was a Wawa Book Review Young Literary Critics Fellow and won the 2019 Ken Saro-Wiwa Prize for Book Review.”