The Permanent Secretary, State House, Alhaji Jalal Arabi, on Tuesday defended the 2016 State House budget proposal of N18.1 billion before the National Assembly.
Addressing members of the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-governmental Affairs, and members of the House of Representatives Committee on Special Duties in Abuja on Tuesday, Arabi disclosed that N3.2 billion of the budget was earmarked for the upgrade of State House Clinic to Centre of Excellence.
“The budget for the State House Medical Centre included N3.219billion proposed for the completion of on-going work as well as procurement of drugs and other medical equipment.
“The Medical Centre provides health care treatment for the President and Vice-President, their families as well as numerous civil servants working in the State House and across the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government and of course, with due respect, including Parliamentarians and members of the legislature in addition to other notable dignitaries.
“Interestingly, Mr Chairman, on a lighter note, not only those that have been captured here attend (the Medical Centre) there are poor of poorest that attend because we receive reference from Gwagwalada, Garki, Wuse hospitals.
“So, if they come, we attend to them and interestingly too at no fee at all, we don’t charge.
“The anticipated improvement of the Medical Centre will propel it to serve as a Centre of Excellence and also reduce medical tourism.
“May I also add that the State House Medical Centre, unlike other Medical Centres does not charge any fees for its services and hence does not generate any revenue for itself,’’ he said.
Arabi stated that N3.9billion of the budget was earmarked for the routine maintenance of the State House, while 394million would be spent on rehabilitation of dilapidated structures being occupied by security personnel.
He said that N1.79billion would be spent on replacement and rehabilitation of mechanical and electrical cables and other accessories in the State House, saying that these installations had been in place since the construction of the villa complex in 1992.
“Hence, it has become absolutely necessary to replace the critical ones in view of the sensitive nature of the equipment especially as they affect the security of the Presidential Villa.
“Several attempts were made in the past to capture same in previous budgets, while much concerted efforts deployed since 2012 but to no avail,’’ he explained.
The Permanent Secretary also disclosed that N699million had been earmarked for the purchase of five CVU cars, 10 each of 33-seater Coaster and Hiace buses and utility pick-up van.
According to him, the vehicles are essentially needed for the CVU and the main pool for staff movements, and shuttle of visitors into the Presidential Villa in view of the current security situations.
“It is in record that there were no purchase/replacement of State House pool vehicles in the State House in the last seven years despite the deteriorating level of most them,’’ he added.
In his response, the Chairman, Senate committee on Federal Character and Inter-governmental Affairs, Tijjani Kaura, expressed satisfaction at the presentation made by the Permanent Secretary.
He noted that the explanation offered on the State House Clinic budget had cleared the air on the misconceptions on the matter.
Similarly, Chairman House of Representatives committee on special duties, Alhaji Nasiru Zango-Daura commended Arabi for the details provided in his presentation, assuring that the committee would work on the proposal as required.