Members of the Senate Health Committee got a shocker on Monday when the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, during a Budget defence announced the rejection of the Ministry’s budget, claiming that some individuals had smuggled strange figures into it.
The entire 2016 Budget has been a subject of controversy as the budget was withdrawn on the basis that it contained some anomalies, which ultimately led to the presidency preparing a new copy it eventually made available to the National Assembly.
The submission by the Health Minister prodded the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Lanre Tejuosho to call for an immediate executive session with the minister with a view to resolving the areas of controversy in the budget, reports DailyTimes.
The Minister also told the Senate Committee how surprised he was to discover that figures had been allotted to some subheads that were generating controversies, whereas no conclusion had been reached on the amount required. He said the Ministry was not aware that alterations had been made to the budget as at the time of presentation before the Senate.
The Minister disclosed also that the provisions of the budget before the National Assembly was in contrast with the priorities of the health sector as contained in the original budget. According to him, some of the votes made by the ministry for some activities had been re-distributed while some important fields in the sector had been excluded. He said: “In the revised budget as re-submitted, N15.7 billion for capital allocation has been moved to other areas. Some allocations made are not in keeping with our priorities.
There is nothing allocated to public health and family health. Over the last two years, nothing had been done on HIV… “We have to look into the details of the budget and re-submit it to the committee. This was not what we submitted. We’ll submit another one. We don’t want anything foreign to creep into that budget. What we submitted is not there.” Adewole also disclosed that State House Clinic to which N3.9 billion had been allocated in the budget at the expense of other hospitals put together which got far less allocations, is not under the supervision of the Ministry of Health. Explaining that the ministry is under the Presidency, Adewole said the figure might not have been the original allocation to the clinic by State House, noting that the original allocation might have been inflated by the same forces which he said had distorted his ministry’s original estimates.
“The State House Clinic is not under the Ministry of Health. I hope it’s not the same rats that changed things in our budget that changed it. The amount is meant for procurement and purchase of medical equipment. It is very important that you engage them because what happened to us might have also happened to them. It is possible that what is there, might not have been what they put there,” Adewole added.