President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the site for the building of VIP State House Clinic within the precinct of the Aso Rock.
The state-of-the-art clinic which will serve the Nigerian populace is expected to be completed in the next two years before the end of the Buhari-led administration.
Already, the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs has visited the site during its oversight function to know the level of utilisation of budgetary allocation to the State House.
This is as the permanent secretary, State House, Tijani Umar, has lamented that the non-release of budgetary allocation to State House in full has become a challenge as some of the facilities at the nation’s seat of power have become obsolete.
Umar, noted that out of about N8.699 billion budgeted for State House in the 2018 fiscal year, only about N5.083 billion which was about 58 per cent was released, leaving an outstanding balance of about N3,616 billion.
Umar told the committee that in 2019 out of about N6.955 billion budgeted, only about N2 billion which was about 38 percent of the total sum was released, leaving an outstanding balance of about N4 billion as the shortfall, While in 2020, the sum of about N4.878 billion was appropriated and fully released.
Fielding questions from journalists, the Permanent Secretary noted that the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has an adverse effect on the economy.
Asked how the management of the State House was coping with the funding challenges, he said, “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.
“I also want to use the opportunity to distinguish very clearly between appropriation and release. Just like you mentioned now, in 2018, about N8 billion was appropriated, out of which only about N5 billion was released. Definitely, looking at the enormity of the challenges that we are dealing with from day to day, that is affecting our performance.
“However, we are in a tradition of prudence and we also have not lost sight of the challenges that we have internationally, especially with COVID in regard to how much money the country in its entirety makes.
“However, I would like to say that the State House needs quite a formidable level of support and improvement in funding. Especially because we are dealing with phasing out a lot of infrastructure that has come to the end of their lifespan.
“We have the issue of our ICT infrastructure, we have the issue of our equipment in the Conference Centre here, kitchen equipment, we have the issue of telecommunications, and operational and utility vehicles that are gradually coming to the tail end of their lives and we need to replace them.
“But majorly, I think the biggest intervention we require is in building and construction of the Presidential wing of the State House Clinic, which is of a strategic national importance and it’s being done in the form of a legacy project.
“And by the time this administration leaves office, we would have the Presidential wing of the State House Clinic in place so that it will be very clear that all the observations and all the hopes and aspirations that the general public has expressed of the State House Clinic and its facilities have been achieved.
“For now, we have already started in earnest with activities that are required for the construction, we have received the necessary approvals. We have received no objection from the Bureau of Public Procurement.
“We have already directed the contractor because he’s going to come in form of a turnkey project, in order to mobilise and take over the site, and to develop the necessary drawings, and the geo-technical survey reports that we have, so that the two years that we have set for ourselves to deliver this project can be achieved.”
Asked how much the project would cost, he said, “It is going to be delivered over two budget years: 2021 and 2022, and we have not yet finalised being a turnkey project, we need the contractors to conclude the development of the drawings and other necessary documents that we need, and for them to give us an estimate that is conclusive for the building.
“And then we also move forward to the issue of equipping the building after delivering it and then place it before the BPP for consideration.”
Further asked whether there was a commitment by the senate committee to ensure that funds appropriated were released, Umar said,” I think, you know, during our meeting or interaction with the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs, it has become very clear to the membership of that committee.
Present at the meeting were the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, members of the senate committee and the management staff of the State House.
…Calls Turkish President Over Devastating Fires
President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday rang his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyep Erdogan, to convey the sympathies of the government and people of Nigeria as wildfires ravage vast territories, torching houses, farmland, wildlife and humans in several places in the country.
In the telephone call, the President in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu, recalled the fraternal relations between Nigeria and Turkey while expressing condolences over attendant losses of lives and property. He prayed for the quick recovery of the injured.
“I wish to express the solidarity of the government and people of Nigeria with the Government and people of Turkey at this critical trying time. I offer the readiness of Nigeria to extend its modest support in any manner that may be required by Turkey,” said the President.
President Buhari extolled the heroic response by Turkish emergency teams and the exemplary leadership of President Erdoğan in handling the disaster, and assured the President of Nigeria’s commitment to sustained progress in her bilateral relations with Turkey.