The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has berated President Muhammadu Buhari for his failure to stop the members of his inner caucus from embarking on medical trips abroad.
HURIWA also lamented Buhari’s lack of political will to set up a panel to investigate the allegations of corruption at the State House Clinic.
According to the rights group, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has shown no interest into investing massively in reviving the moribund health sector despite the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The group pointed out that annual budgetary allocation of the State House Clinic was a lot more than what was allocated to each of the 16 major teaching hospitals across the country with over a total of N13.59billion having reportedly been budgeted for it since the administration came into being.
“A breakdown of the total budgetary provisions within this period showed that N3.94billion, N3.87billion and N3.20billion were budgeted in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively. While in 2018, 2019 and 2020, the budgetary provisions dropped to N1.03billion, N823.44million and N723million, respectively,” HURIWA said in a statement, yesterday by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko.
“Despite these huge allocations it receives, the clinic has left more to be desired as those the facility is meant to serve are still spending millions of taxpayers’ money to seek treatment in other private facilities within and outside the country on health matters that could be well managed here in the country, yet no panel of investigation has been set up to investigate the scandals and allegations of corruptions oozing out from there even as a bulk of the allegation had come from members of the first family.
“In 2017, the wife of the President; Aisha Buhari had attacked the management of the State House Clinic over poor equipment and non-availability of drugs. This attack by the wife of the President had followed the earlier criticism by her daughter; Zara Buhari, who took to one of her social media accounts to criticise the Permanent Secretary of the State House; Jalal Arabi, for his inability to provide even Paracetamol tablets to the clinic despite a budget of N3billion for the provision of drugs to the hospital.
“Although in October, 2017, the House of Representatives said it would investigate the “deplorable condition” of the State House Clinic but till date the outcome of that inquiry remains unknown.
“Again, President Buhari in the build up to his election in 2015, had on his campaign trail, itemized the abolition of medical tourism as one of his key objectives in government.
“Although his administration officials vowed to put an end to the practice, Buhari has been Nigeria’s most prominent medical tourist. He has visited the United Kingdom for at least five medical trips since becoming president, including an extended stay of more than five months in 2017.
“According to the calculations made in one of the editions of ‘Saturday Punch’ Newspaper, in the first three years of his first tenure from May, 2015 to May, 2019, President Buhari was outside the country for a combined 404 days (one year and 39 days) in 33 countries.
“In 2016, President Buhari spent a total of 17 days in a London hospital treating an undisclosed ailment. Shortly after that, in 2017, he reportedly spent a total of 152 days in London on medical vacation when he became inaccessible, except for a few politicians. He equally made frequent trips to the UK on ‘private visits’ believed to be for medical reasons. On May 8, 2018, he again embarked on a six-day medical vacation to London.
“More worrisome is that the medical treatments of the President are still an official secret as Nigerians are not told how much of their cash has been deployed for the medical treatments of the President for months.
“Apart from the Nigerian President, his son; Yusuf, in December, 2017, was flown to Germany after suffering injuries from a bike accident in Abuja. These trips were embarked upon despite a huge sum of above N10billion allocation to the State House Clinic from 2015 to 2018.
“In a recent development, the wife of the President; Aisha Buhari, and a nephew and close confidant of the President defied the lockdown and the shutdown of airports to gallivant all over UK and Dubai for the so called medical tourism.
“In addition, if he is spending his money how is it that the Presidency is being quoted by newspapers to be saying Mamman Daura is not ill and the phone conversations are being shown to Nigerians through the instrumentality of the publicly funded media office of the President?
“That of the first lady is more shocking because she was said to have neck pains and that was the reason for deploying a presidential jet to jet off to Dubai for weeks at public costs.
“HURIWA is pleased and indeed happy that God was on our side to have stopped an unforeseeable air disaster from ever happening following the reported incidents with the homebound Presidential jet in connection with the weather, but to convey the idea that the First Lady had to fly out to treat neck pain is to tell the world that the Nigerian health sector has totally collapsed. This is sad and unfortunate,” he said.
The human rights group demanded that “This penchant of government officials and those close to the corridor of power jetting abroad to receive medical care for undisclosed ailments even as the rest of the population relies on an underfunded and overworked public healthcare system has been the bane of our health sector and the economy has been worse hit for it.
“The problems associated with the poor healthcare system also indict the governors of the 36 states because in those states, there are virtually no functional health centres to care for the residents. However, the pathetic situation afflicting the State House Clinic is even more disturbing.
“The expenditures of the released budgetary funds for the State House Clinic over the years must be investigated in addition to a comprehensive audit of the spending on the State House Clinic and the health sector in the country.
“It is unjustifiable that the State House Clinic would be guzzling billions of taxpayers’ money and those the facility is meant to serve would still be spending millions to seek treatment in other private facilities within and outside the country.
Tai APC Collapses As Hundreds Return To PDP …Say They Were Blinded By Fake Promises
Over 500 former members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Tai Local Government Area have returned to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The returnees led by the first PDP Chairman of the area, Hon Peter Gwezia, announced their return to the PDP, last Saturday, during the GDI’s sensitisation programme for the collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) at the Council Secretariat, Saakpenwa.
Speaking on behalf of the rest of the returnees while renouncing membership of the APC, Hon Peter Gwezia, said he and other APC members decided to leave the party due to failure of leadership.
While promising to work for the success of the PDP in the 2023 election, Gwezia said the APC lacked ideas, and was like a vehicle without engine, could not take them to their desired destination, hence their decision to leave the party.
In his remarks, Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Hon Chukwuemeka Aaron, who received the returnees on behalf of the Chairman, PDP Rivers State, Amb Desmond Akawor, assured them of equal treatment, saying there are no new members in the party.
“I want to welcome you all and to say that in PDP and GDI where you are today, no person is new. We all have equal status, we all have equal rights. Some of the people that were with you there doing the jamboree that came back today, they are commissioners; they have gone to the National Assembly, become chairmen of councils.
“So, having seen what our leader, Chief Nyesom Wike has done in Rivers State, and in Tai, and what your chairman of council is doing in Tai, they have come back to take their rightful position. We want to thank all of you, and to say that the party chairman and the chairman of council will integrate you into the activities of GDI”.
Also speaking, GDI President-General, Chief Bright Amaewhule, said the performance of the present administration in the state was enough testimony for any Rivers son or daughter to reckon that PDP was the only party which had their interest at heart.
Amaewhule said that of the candidates lined up for the governorship seat in the state, only the PDP Governorship candidate, Sir Siminialayi Fubara, was competent and qualified to give the state good governance from day one.
He, therefore, challenged eligible voters who have not collected their PVCs to do so as soon as possible, and prepare to cast their votes for the right party which was a master of good governance and quality projects’ delivery in the state come 2023.
The returnees, alongside GDI members from the 10 wards of Tai, including youths, women and students groups, later engaged in a wild gyration, turning the entire arena into dance frenzy.
The event also featured solidarity speeches from stakeholders among them former and current National and State Assembly members, former and serving council chairmen, former commissioners, party stalwarts, and captains of industry, among others.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
MOSOP Tasks SPDC On Fresh Oil Spill
Factional President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Mr. Fegalo Nsuke, has called on Shell Petroleum Development Company (Shell) Joint Venture (JV), the oil and gas multinational company, to take full responsibility and appropriate action to curb a fresh oil spill in Bodo Community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Nsuke, who noted that the spill was first noticed in the community early last week, blamed Shell for the spill and urged the Dutch multinational to alleviate its impact on the community, curtail its spread and commence proper remediation and compensation in accordance with global best practices.
The MOSOP leader noted that the oil spills from the Trans Niger Pipeline operated by the Shell JV, suddenly erupted within the residential area of the community, alleging that it must have been caused by equipment failure.
He observed that although the cause of the spills, which was occurring 11years after the release of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports, was yet to be ascertained, the spills have affected residential areas and community dwellers have been asked by the MOSOP to evacuate the area, to avoid causality in case of a fire.
“This massive spill is occurring 11 years after the UNEP released a damning report exposing Shell’s devastation of the Ogoni environment.
“We have communicated with community leaders to cooperate with investigations and ensure that every detail about this spill is communicated to our secretariat as soon as possible”, he said.On his part, Executive Director, Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC), Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, said, “the cause of the crude oil spill which occurred inside the community where people live is not yet known at this time.”
By: Tonye Nria-Dappa
Nigeria’s Freedom Of Expression Attracting Global Attention, Buhari Claims
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Sunday, said it was instructive that Nigeria was attracting positive international attention as a country that promoted media freedom and freedom of expression.
He said this was premised on the government’s understanding of the important roles that information literacy and media education played in sustainable development.
According to a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari said this while pledging his “full support” for three major international events scheduled to hold in Nigeria in October and November 2022.
They include: the 2022 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Global Media, Information Literacy Week in Abuja, in October, the first Global Conference on Cultural Tourism and Creative Industry in Lagos, as well as the second Global Association of Literary Festivals Conference, Abeokuta, in November.
In the statement titled ‘President Buhari pledges support as Nigeria hosts major cultural, tourism and literary events,’ he said the global events were opportunities to showcase the nation’s rich heritage in culture, arts, tourism and entertainment as well as advancements on media freedom.
Earlier, the Minister of Information ad Culture, Lai Mohammed, said that hosting the 2022 UNESCO Global Media, Information Literacy Week, would help to address the rising spate of fake news, misinformation and hate speech.
Expressing his delight to welcome international visitors to Nigeria, Buhari urged citizens to leverage the events to exhibit the values “that make us a unique, friendly and peace-loving people.”
The statement read in part, “Welcoming the decision by the UNESCO’s World Tourism Organisation and the Global Association of Literary Festivals to grant Nigeria the right to host these separate historic events, the President assures all relevant stakeholders and participants of the warmth and hospitality of the people of Nigeria.
“On the MIL Week, Buhari notes that it is instructive that Nigeria is attracting positive international attention as a country that promotes media freedom and freedom of expression, recognising the important roles information literacy and media education play in sustainable development.
“On the first Global Conference on Cultural Tourism and Creative Industry, the President says the rapid growth of Nigeria’s film, fashion, music, and the Information and Communications Technology sector, and the increase in international appeal and acceptance would continue to spur government to devote more resources to the sector.”
Among other initiatives, Buhari noted that the Creative Industry Financing Initiative, established by his administration and managed by the Central Bank of Nigeria in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, had provided single-digit financing to many young Nigerians in the fields of fashion, film, music and information technology.
He noted that the $100 million re-development of the National Theatre, Lagos, into a world-class creative park is also ongoing, following the handover of the facility to the CBN and the Bankers Committee.
The President, therefore, expressed confidence that the literary world would find many good things to celebrate about Nigeria when they meet in the historic city of Abeokuta, homeland and birthplace of one of Nigeria’s finest literary icons and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.
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