Recently, the wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, raised a storm on the decaying infrastructure at the high profile State House Clinic despite its multi-billion naira budgetary allocation. Speaking at a public function, she observed that there is a huge budget for the hospital and yet a visit to the facility will reveal activity relating to construction without an evidence to provide services expected of a hospital of that status. She startled Nigerians that the hospital cannot boast of a single syringe in its pharmacy.
She also disclosed that when she was ill and needed an x-ray, the clinic was not able to provide that service and she had to visit a private hospital. Mrs Buhari wondered aloud that if she could be exposed to such shoddy treatment in the State House Clinic then the fate of ordinary Nigerians in need of a health service can only be imagined.
The hospital in question got a N3.2 billion allocation in the 2017 budget. Actually, it was reported that the same hospital received more budgetary allocation in the 2016 budget than all the teaching hospitals in the country put together. So, in spite of all these humongous amount allocated to it, the hospital still falls short of expectation in service delivery even to the First family that ought to be its primary assignment in terms of those it should serve.
President Muhammadu Buhari himself had to seek medical help outside Nigeria’s shores when he needed it and Nigerians could not bring themselves to understand the contradiction of poor service delivery vis-à-vis mouth-watering financial provision that should, under normal circumstances, guarantee effective, efficient and quality service. The doctors had just called off the strike the embarked upon to draw attention to the sorry state in the nation’s healthcare delivery system including the welfare of staff.
And that is why we think that the First lady’s frustration is metaphorical when applied to the Nigerian State. All the nation’s infrastructure are all in utter decay. Road travel is a nightmare considering their quality or lack of it. Without exception, there is no road one can ply on in the country without having ones heart in one’s mouth. Year in, year out huge sums are voted for road construction at all levels of government with not much to show as justification for the money spent if budgetary allocation is considered.
The situation is so bad that the Debt Management Office had to raise special funds for that purpose. We hope it helps.
The power sector is almost in comatose. When it was run by a government agency, there was unyielding call for its privatisation. Years after this call was heeded by the government, the sector is actually getting worse regardless of financial interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria as well as other policy support in terms of tariff structure by the government.
The education sector is all but collapsed due dearth of infrastructure and demoralising conditions of service that encourage teachers to turn their classrooms into shops. The opinion, including in informed circles, is that budgetary allocation to the sector is low when put side by side with international standards. That has always been the excuse even when the much that was put in has not been judiciously deployed so that the populace can derive optimal service therefrom.
The infusion of private sector effort has not been much of a panacea as the rot in the public sector is been consciously transferred to the supposedly new phase of the nation’s educational development trajectory. The story is the same in all spheres of the nation’s life where money is thrown at plans and projects without the required checks that should demand that commensurate value is derived.
The explanation for the near total collapse of the functionality of the Nigerian system is that corruption is at the root of it all. That is without doubt. The President’s wife said so much in her assessment of the operations of the State House hospital. The irony of the average Nigerian’s approach to the issue of corruption is faulty if not hypocritical. We all talk of the phenomenon in abstract terms as if it is something influenced from outer space.
Most Nigerians celebrate when they are appointed into government offices not because they see it as an opportunity to deliver quality service to the nation. But because it is seen as another opportunity to ingratiate self and cronies at the expense of the State. That is why there is always talk of juicy appointment, juicy contract. Now that the First family has been exposed to the reality of a malfunctioning state facility that is ostensibly adequately funded, we hope it will raise the bar in the fight of the behemoth that is eating away the life of the nation.