Senate probes abandoned N400bn primary health centre project

By Peter Usman://

Worried by the N400billion trapped on the National Primary Health Centre, NPHC project, the Senate on Wednesday resolved to investigate the reason for abandoning the project over the years.

Specifically, the upper legislative chamber mandated its Committee on Health, and Primary Health care and Communicable Disease to find the status of the 100 percent project funds warehouse with the then Bank PHB, now Keystone Bank.

The committees were also asked to investigate the level of progress and status of the projects in each of the 774 local government, carry out evaluation of the contractor and sub-contractors that participate in the projects.

Similarly, they are to carry out a schedule of dilapidation on the projects, and recommend ways of completing the projects nationwide.

The Senate resolutions were sequel to the consideration of a motion, titled: “Need to investigate the abandoned Four Hundred Billion Naira National Primary Health Centre project” jointly sponsored by Senators Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC Kwara Central) and Sadiq Umar (APC Kwara North) during plenary.

Presenting the motion, Senator Oloriegbe, informed that the NPHC was initiated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006 to build in each of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria, a 60-bed primary health centres which was to be complemented with a three-bedroom flat, doctors quarters, an ambulance, all basic hospital equipment and drugs.

To achieve this, he said “the federal government deducted monies from the excess crude account of all the 774 local government areas on a monthly basis, warehouse the same with the then Platinum Habib Bank (now Keystone Bank) until the funds required for the actualisation of the project was realized.”

Senator Oloriegbe said the bill of quantities for the projects was prepared by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, and approved by the Bureau of Public Procurement, wondering that despite all these, “the contract for the execution of the projects in the entire 774 local government areas, was awarded to Messrs Mattans Nig. Ltd without any known tendering and selection process.”

He noted that the company sub-contracted out the jobs to consultant and sub-contractors without any verification of capacity and capabilities to properly execute the jobs and without the consents of the government or its agencies involved then.

Contributing, Senator Umar said that the delivery of good health care to Nigerians is an aspect that can ensure the development of the country, observing that the recorded successes in health care delivery in developed climes are directly tied to the quality of primary health services.

“The key policy for primary health care in Nigeria is that every ward across the country must have a functional primary health care center where people can access health care delivery to be able to take care of maternal mortality rates that we are concerned about and other related health issues,” Umar said. 

He lamented that the National Primary Health Center projects dispersed across the various constituencies have been abandoned by the contractors, some of whom are unknown. 

On his part, Senator Matthew Urhogide (PDP Edo South), said the merit of the NPHC project cannot be downplayed in view of its importance to health care delivery in Nigeria. 

According to him, the project was supposed to be the basis for the establishment of primary health centers in the 774 local government areas. 

He disclosed that recently, some of the representatives of companies who were awarded the contracts appeared before some of the Senate Committees to claim that they haven not been paid for the execution of the projects.

In her own, Senator Biodun Olujimi (PDP Ekiti South), said the abandoned project was a “commitment to primary health gone wrong”.

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