The wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha, on Monday, publicly upbraided the Chief Medical Director of the State House Medical Centre, Dr. Husain Munir, for the poor state of the health facility established to take care of the President, Vice-President, their families as well as members of staff of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
She spoke at the opening of a two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn Child, Adolescent Health and Nutrition held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.
Mrs. Buhari admitted that Nigeria was unstable in the last six months owing largely to the President’s ill-health that forced him to remain outside the country for months.
She wondered what could have happened to a common man on the street if Buhari could spend several months outside Nigeria for health reason.
She recalled that she was sick recently and was advised to travel abroad because of the poor state of the clinic.
The President’s wife explained that she had to go to a private hospital owned by foreigners when she was told that the x-ray machine in the State House Medical Centre was not working.
Mrs. Buhari told Munir, who was present at the event, that the budget allocated to the clinic must be accounted for.
The President’s wife added, “I am happy the MD of Aso Rock Clinic is here. Dr. Munir, I am happy you are here. As you are all aware, for the last six months, Nigeria wasn’t stable because of my husband’s ill-health. We thank God he has fully recovered now.
“If somebody like Mr. President can spend several months outside Nigeria, then you wonder what will happen to a man in the street.
“Few weeks ago, I was sick as well. They advised me to take the first flight out to London; I refused to go. I said I must be treated in Nigeria because there is a budget for an assigned clinic to take care of us. If the budget is N100m, we need to know how the budget is spent.
“Along the line, I insisted they call Aso Clinic to find out if the X-ray machine is working. They said it was not working. They didn’t know I was the one that was supposed to be in that hospital at that very time.
“I had to go to a hospital that was established by foreigners 100 per cent. What does that mean?
“So, I think it is high time we did the right thing. If something like this can happen to me, there is no need for me to ask the governors’ wives what is happening in their states. This is Abuja and this is the highest seat of government, and this is the Presidential Villa.
“One of the speakers has already said we have very good policies in Nigeria; in fact, we have the best policies in Africa. Yes, of course, we have, but the implementation has been the problem. So, we need to change our mindset and do the right thing.”
Mrs. Buhari said although the CMD would not be happy that she spoke publicly on the issue, the truth, she noted, must be said.
She added, “I am sure Dr. Munir will not like me saying this but I have to say it out. As the Chief Medical Director, there are a lot of constructions going on in this hospital but there is no single syringe there.
“What does that mean? Who will use the building? We have to be good in reasoning. You are building new building and there is no equipment, no consumables in the hospital and the construction is still going on.
“Going back to the same health issue in Nigeria, as a result of spending several months by the President outside Nigeria, a 40-year-old man, who is still living in his father’s house, created a state out of a state and that is a major setback for the country and the health sector did not benefit.”
One of the President’s daughters, Zahra, had, last week called out the Permanent Secretary of the State House, Mr. Jalal Arabi, over the poor state of the clinic despite huge annual budgets for the facility.
In response, Arabi had said the management of the clinic would, among other things, seek its commercialisation to address its dwindling fortunes.
According to a statement by the Deputy Director (Information), State House, Mr. Attah Esa, the Permanent Secretary said the commercialisation of the centre, which currently offers free medical services to patients, would boost its revenue and augment the allocation it received from the government.
Arabi had dismissed allegations of misappropriation and withholding of funds meant for medical supplies in the centre.
“I know people will insinuate and give all sorts of reasons because they don’t ask but it will be foolhardy for anybody, in his senses, to defraud a medical centre of a kobo and toy with people’s lives,” he had stated.