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Nigeria parliament backs probe into president’s clinic

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, center, with his family

Media: Culled from Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Abuja, Nigeria, Oct 13, 2017 (AFP) – Nigerian lawmakers are to look into the financing of the country’s presidential health facility, after criticism it lacks drugs and equipment despite massive government funding.

The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said there was a need to probe “the deplorable condition of the State House Clinic” and alleged deductions from payments to staff.

The clinic has been allocated just over 11 billion naira ($30 million, 26 million euros) in the last three years for upgrading and the purchase of drugs and equipment.

Earlier this week President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife Aisha said doctors at the clinic in Abuja recently advised her to seek medical treatment abroad but she refused.

She said there was “no single syringe” and “no equipment” at the clinic during a speech that criticized the overall state of healthcare provision as “very, very, very poor”.

One of the president’s daughters, Zahra, recently called for an investigation of the medical center, claiming it lacked basic drugs such as paracetamol.

She said on her Instagram account that staff had no equipment to work with and asked “Where is the money going to?”

The posts, which were widely shared, were later deleted but the presidency responded, promising the clinic would be “repositioned to offer qualitative and efficient services”.

The permanent secretary at the presidential villa, Jalal Arabi, denied there was “misappropriation and withholding of funds meant for medical supplies” at the facility.

The State House Clinic was set up to provide free healthcare to the president and vice-president, their families and members of staff working at the presidential villa.

President Buhari was elected in 2015 on a promise to root out endemic government corruption and said “mind-boggling” sums of public money has been stolen by previous administrations.

He has spent most of the year in London having treatment for an undisclosed illness and returned to Abuja last month.

The PDP motion, submitted to the lower House of Representatives on Thursday, was passed. Lawmakers were told to report back in three weeks. END

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