Recently, there was an outcry on the floor of the House of Representatives over the deplorable state of the Aso Rock Clinic. The anger of the federal lawmakers was as a result of complaints by the wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari about the state of the clinic.
Days earlier, the president’s daughter, Zahra had equally raised concern about the clinic. The clinic is designed to take care of the health needs of President Muhammadu Buhari, his deputy, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, their families and staff of the State House.
The House later adopted a motion calling for an investigation into how N11.01 billion allocated to the State House Clinic between 2015 to 2017 was utilised. The House also resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to undertake the assignment and report to the House within three weeks for further legislative action.
Leading debate on the motion, the sponsor, Hon Henry Archibong contended that despite the huge allocations to the state House Clinic in the past three years, it lacks basic drugs and equipment, needed to save lives.
According to him, it is shocking that the State House lacks basic medical device like syringes. “In the last three years over N11.01billion has been appropriated. But something as simple as syringes are not available in the clinic. If people that are supposed to administer the medical facilities cannot do so, it calls for concern. “If this level of misappropriation can happen in the State House Clinic , let us imagine what happens to the other hospitals and the ordinary citizens, who go there for health care.
“It is an embarrassment to this country. It is unacceptable that this amount has been spent and there is nothing to show for it. It can not happen in the smallest of Africa country, not to talk of America, Asia and Europe.
“It is unacceptable that the minister and permanent secretary has not resigned in shame,” Archibong said. I totally agree with Archibong that the state of Aso Rock clinic is a national embarrassment. I also agree with him, that what is happening in the clinic cannot happen in the smallest African country.
I equally agree with the lawmaker that such a national scandal cannot happen in the least African country, not to talk of America, Europe or Asia. Like the Honourable noted, it cannot only happen in a country like Nigeria, where lawmakers most of the times fail to live up to their responsiblities.
The action of the House is hypocrisy at its best trying to play to the gallery.
It is sheer hypocrisy for the House to be expressing displeasure over the poor state of the Aso Rock Clinic, simply because the President’s wife complained about the hospital.
The rot in the Aso Rock Clinic is an indictment on the House of Representatives, to say the least. This because if the House committee that oversights it has been more diligent in its duties, it would known the truth about thr Clinic before Mrs Buhari’s alarm.
Earlier in the year, the House Committee on Special Duties, which oversights the State House, had expressed delight with the state of the Aso Rock clinic, after an oversight visit.
The chairman of the committee, Nasiru Daura, was quoted to have said:“I’m happy with what I’ve seen. The public criticism we keep hearing; there are no drugs in the State House Medical Centre, there is no this, there is no that, despite the fact that it’s free service here. Things are bound to finish. They’ve to wait for the releases to come before they can replenish,” he said.
In light of the above, I believe it is not only the Minister of Health and his permanent secretary that ought to have resigned in shame. The relevant House Committee ought to resign in shame too. Apart from raising a committee to probe the deplorable state of the State House clinic, the House leadership should equally turn its search light on its relevant committees.
The rot in the State House Clinic typifies the state of infrastructure across the country. If a clinic that is supposed to cater for the health needs of the president can be in a such pitiable state, imagine what would be the state of public hospitals across the country, where the poor masses go for medical care. Across the country, there is total collapse of infrastructure, Public education is in shamble. yet our lawmakers seem not to bother.
Earlier in the year, when the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport was shut down to enable the relevant agency do an upgrade of the runnway, House members expressed concern about the how safe the Kaduna Airport, which was the alternative was. But virtually all major roads across the country are death traps,yet nobody seem concerned.
Today, traveling by road in Nigeria is tantamount to going through the valley of death. On daily basis, hundreds of Nigerians die in accidents in highways across the country. These are deaths that could have been avoided if the roads are in good shape. Yet we have House Committees on Works, FERMA etc. But it is not enough for the House to take decisive steps.
It is not important to our lawmakers, because the first lady or any member of the first family does not travel by road. I am appalled that the only issues that attract the attention of the federal lawmakers are those in connection with the elite. Things are bad in the country because lawmakers has consistently shirk their constitutional responsibility.
If our lawmakers are up and doing in the discharge of their oversight functions, things would have certainly be better in the country. And most of the motions that are treated in the Green Chamber would not even arise in the first place. Democracy is a very good form of government. But its operation in Nigeria, especially in the areas of checks and balances has left much to be desired.
Methink it is time for the legislature to rise up and give our democracy its flavour as a representative form of government.
Point of Order…
A bill seeking to amend the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act to increase penalties for persons convicted for quackery and other offences under the Act passed second reading in the House of Representatives recently.
The bill sponsored by Hon Dozie Nwankwo seeks to amend section17(5)(a)and (b) of the principal Act to increase penalty for quackery and other offence from a sum not exceeding N5000 to one million naira in the event of summary conviction, and a fine not exceeding five million naira or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both in the event of conviction or indictment.
That bill is a step in the right direction. But the House must not there, it must also take urgent steps review other obsolete laws in the various sector of the economy.