December 8, 2022
The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has budgeted N500 million for the establishment of a new federal medical centre in Daura, Katsina State, Mr Buhari’s hometown.
This is contained in the N20.5 trillion 2023 budget proposal presented to the National Assembly by the President earlier in October.
When completed, the hospital will rank Katsina as the only state in Nigeria with two Federal Medical Centres.
The Federal Medical Centre, Katsina, is one of the existing 22 Federal Medical Centres distributed across the states of the federation and Abuja, the nation’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The distance between Daura and Katsina is 83.6 kilometres, and it takes about one hour to travel between the two towns by road.
While Katsina is billed to have two FMCs, there are 15 other states of the federation that are currently without such a medical centre.
But the government has kept mute on the matter, describing it as a policy decision.
According to the Federal Ministry of Health, based on the six geopolitical zones, four states of Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti and Ondo in the South-west region have a federal medical centre each, while only Delta and Bayelsa in the South-south region have one each.
Like the South-South region, only two states of Imo and Abia in the South-east have the presence of FMCs while in the North-east, five states of Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe and Adamawa, have a centre each.
In the North-central region of the country, Niger, Kogi, Benue and the FCT have one each, and in the North-west, four states of Kebbi, Jigawa, Zamfara and Katsina also have one centre each. But this may change soon if the new proposal by the President is accepted and another FMC is completed in Mr Buhari’s hometown of Daura in Katsina State.
The states without FMC include Oyo and Osun in South-west; Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Edo and Cross River in South-south; Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu in South-east; Kano, Kaduna and Sokoto in North-west; Plateau and Kwara in North-central, and Borno in North-East.
Plan for FMC Daura in top gear
Findings by our correspondent have revealed that Governor Aminu Masari-led administration in the state has declared support for the establishment of the new federal medical centre.
The governor has approved that an existing general hospital in the President’s town should be upgraded by the Federal Government to the new FMC. And in addition, the governor announced a donation of 50 hectares of land for the project.
The government has since directed the Katsina State Ministry of Health to liaise with the Ministry of Lands and Surveys to commence the demarcation of the land in Daura as well as the process of issuing the Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) to the Federal Ministry of Health.
More than FMC
Since Mr Buhari assumed office as the President of Nigeria in 2015, his hometown of Daura has been regarded by many Nigerians as a “construction site” following the growing and an unprecedented number of capital projects located in the town.
In August 2019, the Nigerian government inaugurated the Nigerian Air Force Reference Hospital in the town.
According to Daily Trust, the hospital has equipment for radio-diagnosis, cancer screening, dialysis, laboratory diagnosis and research and the President was quoted to have said the hospital would “minimise the need for people to travel to other states and even abroad for health reasons”.
Similarly, in November same year, the Women and Children Hospital, Daura was established in the town by a philanthropist. The effort, the donor was quoted to have said, would reduce maternal and infant mortality.
The Project Manager, Mansor Korfi during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the health facility, stated that the hospital was to be built by Belamaoil Producing Limited “based on the demand of the people of Daura, who were asked to name a particular project to be sited in their area.”
There are other projects including the Transport University and others such as electrification and provision of solar systems, and rehabilitation of the Kongolam-Daura-Kano road.
In fact, more than 13 ongoing projects in the President’s hometown have been allocated more than N200 million in the 2023 budget proposal. They include the establishment of a booster station, the establishment of a Bioresources centre, the fabrication of prototype machinery for the production of jute bags and allied products, and the development of an industrial tannery, among others.
The President has consistently emphasised his plans to retire to his hometown after completing his tenure in 2023 to take charge of his “abandoned farm”. Therefore, the turnaround of his hometown may not be unconnected with the retirement plan.
Lowest budget for State House clinic
Meanwhile, for the first time since his election into office, the Aso Rock clinic, otherwise regarded as the State House clinic, is expected to take care of the health of the first family, the family of his deputy and other officials of the government has received the lowest budgetary allocation.
Commentators have linked this to the President’s end of tenure in 2023, while also arguing that the location of various capital projects in his hometown may be part of his plan to retire to his hometown.
PREMIUM TIMES observed that the State House Clinic for the first time in eight years is getting the lowest allocation of N455,204,236 from the N20.51 trillion 2023 budget proposal.
A breakdown of the allocations shows that in 2015, the clinic got N3.94 billion and N3.87 billion in 2016. This was followed by another allocation of N3.20 billion in 2017 and N1.03 billion in 2018, but reduced to N823.44 million in 2019 and N723 million in 2020.
But in spite of the heavy allocations to the clinic, the President’s wife, Aisha Buhari, had in 2017 criticised its management shortly after her daughter, Zahra reportedly took to her Instagram page to call out the management.
She criticised the then Permanent Secretary of the State House Clinic, Jalal Arabi, for not being able to provide ‘ordinary paracetamol’ in the clinic despite a budget of N3 billion for the provision of drugs to the hospital.
In 2020 and 2021, the sum of N416.6 million and N1.06 billion were budgeted respectively for the construction of the Presidential (VIP) Wing of the State House Clinic, and as of March, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijanni Umar, confirmed the money had already been paid in full.
Mr Umar also disclosed that out of the N20.8 billion allocated for the same project in the 2022 budget, the federal government had paid N8.5 billion, meaning that between 2020 and 2022, at least the sum of N10 billion has been spent on the construction of the Presidential Wing of the State House Clinic.
The huge investment in the State House’s medical facilities has, however, not stopped the President from his frequent trips to the United Kingdom for
The former Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, said though the new federal medical centre will serve both the President and the people of Daura community, it is still politically motivated.
Mr Yusuf, now the Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), added that the allocation of money for new projects is mostly designed to achieve some particular political interests.
He said: “Obviously allocation of money for some projects is mostly politically influenced. This is not restricted to the federal level, it also happens at the state level. Projects are mostly designed to suit some particular political interests.
“At the National Assembly, most legislators try to influence projects for their constituents. A university was also established in former President Jonathan’s village. These are decisions that are politically driven.
“The establishment of a new medical centre in Daura is not a coincidence, it was deliberate, although I see it as a way to serve the people of Daura and not the president alone”.
Govt keeps mum
The government has declined comment on the development, describing it as a policy decision.
The Deputy Director, Media and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Health, Ahmadu Chindaya, declined to speak on the matter in a terse response to PREMIUM TIMES’s reporter’s message after many calls to his telephone line were unanswered
The official, who rather volunteered to link up to a director in charge of policies at the ministry, however, noted such would not be feasible immediately.
He said: “We are holding National Council on Health. It started yesterday running to Friday. So you can’t meet me on the seat.” (Abuja Reporters).