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BudgIT Blasts Buhari For Budgeting N21.9bn To Build 14-Bed Clinic At Presidential Villa

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BudgIT, a civic organisation, has described as “outrageous” and “inflated”, the N21.9 billion allocated for the construction of a 14-bed Presidential Clinic at the State House Medical Centre, Abuja.

In its latest publication titled “Frivolous, Suspicious and Inflated Projects in FG’s Budget Proposal”, where it analysed the projects in the 2022 budget proposal, BudgIT recalled that the same project gulped N1.9 billion between 2019 and 2021.

“The sums of N395m, N416m, and N1.06bn were allocated for this same project in 2019, 2020, and 2021 federal budgets, respectively. It is outrageous that this 14-bed presidential wing still needs N21.9bn,” the organisation said.

The Permanent Secretary, State House, Umar Tijjani, had in October said the physical construction of the clinic would commence November 1, by Julius Berger Nigeria (JBN) and is expected to be completed by December 31, 2022.

“The project was conceived in 2012 by the previous administration and the brief was produced. It was estimated at about N21 billion and the facility contains 14-bed space without a total area of 2,700 square metres. There will be underground and the first floor,” Mr Tijjani said during a budget defence session with the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs.

He added components of the facility to be “two number operating theatres, two number executive suites, two VIP, two isolation and one six-bed isolation area.”

Nonetheless, BudgIT recommended that the budget be reviewed downwards by the National Assembly.

“The National Assembly should review this downwards. Savings from the revised allocation should be reallocated to refurbish and equip at least 500 dilapidated Primary Health Care Centres across Nigeria,” the organisation said.

There is currently a State House Medical Centre servicing the presidency and its staff. The president’s wife Aisha Buhari once berated the centre for not being up to standard.

Despite the billions of allocations, the medical facility in the statehouse remains unfit for President Muhammadu Buhari, as reports showed he has gone on medical trips over 12 times since the assumption of office in 2015.

Although the president has over time faced criticisms for jetting out of the country for healthcare purposes, the minister of information Lai Mohammed slammed critics, on the basis that Mr Buhari has the right to travel for medical treatments.

Recently, the senator representing Kogi West, Smart Adeyemi, had also described the 2022 national budget proposal presented before the National Assembly as “dubious” and “questionable.”

“And you will ask a question, the economy team of Mr President Muhammadu Buhari, are they Nigerians? If they are Nigerians, it means they are not in tune with the reality in this country today. Today we have a large army of unemployed people and you are bringing a budget that is so annoying, so questionable, so dubious,” Mr Adeyemi said.

Also, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) urged the Buhari regime to cut the budget for the clinic construction, travels “could be better allocated to improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services.”

“Cut the N26 billion presidency budget for the construction of the presidential wing at the State House Medical Centre, local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, ‘sitting allowance’, and ‘welfare package’, and to use some of the savings to address the growing level of deficit, as well as improve public healthcare facilities across the country,” SERAP said in the letter dated 9 October 2021 and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare.

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US President’s Medical Adviser, Anthony Fauci To Speak At Nigeria COVID-19 Summit

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As part of efforts to redefine the country’s national COVID-19 response and build the health security framework for the country, the Nigerian COVID-19 Summit is to host Dr Anthony Fauci.

Fauci, who is the Chief Medical Adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden as well as the Director, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, U.S. will be speaking at the summit.

The summit, which is in partnership with the Coalition of Development Partners, will be held from December 6 to December 8, 2021, in Abuja.

Dr Mukhtar Muhammed, Technical Head, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, made the disclosure to the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Sunday.

Mohammed said that the PSC had also mobilised all critical stakeholders including development partners for this important National Summit.

“We are heartened and encouraged by the support we have received so far from our development partners and the private sector.

“With just one day away from the commencement of this summit, which will help us to redefine our national COVID-19 response and build the health security framework for the country,” he added.

He, however, encouraged Nigerians and the international community to visit the website of this summit.

“There will be a virtual session that can be accessed by all. In order to register, you will log on to the website: https://2021.covid19summit.com.ng/.

“I want to thank all Nigerians, members of the diplomatic corps for their understanding of our procedures.

“Our international development partners, for providing technical and financial support, members of the press, for doing your work to ensure that we advance the cause of public health, and Nigeria remains a very safe environment,” he said.

NAN reports that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman PSC on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, had said that in preparation for the committee’s winding down, it would hold a COVID-19, summit in partnership with the Coalition of Development Partners in the country.

According to Mustapha, the theme of the summit will be: ‘Pushing through the Last Mile to End the Pandemic and Build Back Better’.

The sub-themes include: ‘Leadership And Governance In Pandemic Recovery And Reconstruction’ and ‘Nigeria’s Health-Security Framework For Effective Response To Global Health Security Threats’.

The SGF noted that the summit would be an august assemblage of key actors in the health, economic, security, and policy-making sectors of the country.

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Tragedy: Eight Children Found Dead In Abandoned Car In Lagos

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Tragedy struck in Badagry area of Lagos on Sunday as the bodies of eight children were evacuated from an abandoned car.

The tragic incident occurred at Adelayo Street, Jah-Micheal along Badagry Expressway.

The children were said to be playing in the abandoned car when they mistakenly locked themselves inside.

Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Lagos Police Command, Adekunle Ajisebutu confirmed the incident.

He said the eight children were said to have mistakenly locked themselves in an abandoned car while playing.

“Their bodies have been recovered and deposited at the Badagry General Hospital’s morgue for autopsy so as to determine the actual cause of death.

Notwithstanding the report made to the Police, the Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, has ordered a thorough and speedy investigation into the circumstances surrounding their death.

“The CP also commiserates with the families of the victims,” he said.

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We Have Willpower To Tackle Illicit Drugs – Marwa

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Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Buba Marwa says the agency is determined to tackle illicit drugs in the country despite the myriads of challenges its operatives encounter occasionally.

In an excerpt from a piece published in the agency’s magazine, the NDLEA boss said he is confident that NDLEA now holds all the aces and stands a good chance of curbing the drug menace in the country.

Marwa who reeled out some of the recent feats attained by the agency, was optimistic that the NDLEA is going to bring drug prevalence figures down, even though at the moment they still remain at a worrisome number.

According to the NDLEA chief, June was a month of strategic development and significant developments for the agency included the launch of the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) initiative, the unveiling of the National Drug Control Master Plan (NDCMP 2021-2025) and the release of the Standard Policy and Practice Guidelines (SPPG) for the Agency’s counselling centres.

These he noted were in addition to the agency’s continuing blistering performance in terms of record arrest and conviction of drug traffickers and unprecedented seizures of consignments of assorted illicit substances.

Notwithstanding, Mr Marwa stressed that it is not yet ‘Uhuru’. He insisted that “the drug prevalence in Nigeria is worrisome, especially when compared with the global average”.

He said, “from the last UNODC/Ministry of Health survey in 2018, we now know that 14.3 million Nigerians, between the ages of 15 and 64, abuse drugs. The World Drug Report ranked Nigeria as the leading country in the abuse of cannabis. These statistics should worry Nigerians.”

The NDLEA CEO, however, assured that the statistics will change for the better, explaining that his optimism is founded on solid premises.

“We are now an intelligence-based organization, and the purpose of our strategies is to exterminate illicit drug supply or, at least, control it; while at the same time, we are ramping up our drug demand reduction efforts. With UNODC, we have launched a standard policy guideline for counselling for NDLEA counsellors. So, our strategies encapsulate prevention, treatment, and aftercare,” he declared.

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