Funding for cancer treatment and HIV drugs were amongst those either cut or completely removed by the National Assembly in the 2018 budget signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report.
After signing the budget into law, President Muhammadu Buhari accused the National Assembly of distorting the spending plan and increasing their own budget.
According to the president, the lawmakers effected cuts amounting to N347 billion in allocations to 4,700 projects and introduced fresh 6,403 projects of their own valued at about N578 billion.
Documents containing details of projects either cut, removed or illegally inserted in the budget by the lawmakers revealed that the bulk of the projects inserted into the budget of MDAs cut across mainly lawmakers’ constituencies.
They include projects by the Federal Capital Territory Administration, Federal Ministries of Health, Transportation, Education, Power, Works & Housing, Industry, Trade and Investment as well as Service Wide Vote.
The document seen by PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday showed that N140 million provided in the draft appropriation presented to the National Assembly in November 2017 by the president for training of personnel and central procurement of 300,000 dialysis consumables by the Federal Ministry of Health was cut, leaving only N80 million.
Also, in a country where cancer is ravaging due to lack of treatment centres, about N700 million provided for the establishment of chemotherapy centres in 10 teaching hospitals across the country was reduced to only N300 million.
So far, there are only three diagnostic centres established by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) for cancer treatment in the country at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) and Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia (FMCU).
The provision of over N2.07 billion allocated for the procurement of anti-retroviral drugs for HIV patients and other living with AIDS was slashed to N1.1 billion.
About N6 billion provided for strategic intervention services in some tertiary health institutions to cater for the people’s health was cut by 80 per cent, leaving only N1.2 billion.
Again, out of about N1.43 billion allocated for distribution, transport and maintenance of cold chain supply systems for drugs preservation in national and state hospitals was cut by over 85 per cent to only N208.5 million.
In Works Ministry, out of about N7.3 billion allocated for the dualisation of the South-South section of the East West Road was cut by over 34 per cent to N4.78 billion.
Equally, about N5.5 billion of about N6.9 billion allocated for the provision of electrical power and water supply, construction of protective fences along the Abraka, Oria, Oruwhorum corridor for the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Aladja railway system was cut off.
The construction of Enugu Airport terminal building, which got over N2.03 billion allocation in the draft budget was reduced by 74 per cent to only N530.1 million.
Further review of the documents showed that apart from 22 projects in the Niger Delta area valued at about N2.017 billion completely removed from the budget, most of the over 6,400 inserted included those in the lawmakers constituencies not part of the N100 billion constituency projects for which separate provision have been made.
These projects include the ones the president said should be under the purview of state and local governments’ responsibilities for which the federal government should not be burdened.
Most of these projects are categorised under supply of industrial sewing machines, building of fish feed mills, supply of tricycles/motorcycles and Volkswagen Golf cars for community youth and women for empowerment programmes; purchase of grinding machines for women and youth, provision of boreholes in some rural communities; training and empowerment of non-violent ex-agitators; purchase and distribution of drilling hand pumps in some local communities.
Other items include provision of medical services outreach for aged displaced persons; supply of generators, sewing machines and clippers for youth empowerment and purchase and supply of utility vehicles for Ideato Youths; provision of complete set of grinding machines; construction and installation of solar street lights in some rural communities; erosion control works in some rural communities.
Also covered by items inserted in the budget by the lawmakers included training of youth and women in fishery, piggery and feeds farming in some rural communities; construction of cassava, rice, soya bean processing mills in some rural communities; youth and women empowerment in agriculture in some rural communities; provision of access roads in some rural communities; building culverts and drainages across some rural roads; upgrading of pathways and driveways in some housing estates.
The others include provision of entrepreneurship training of some youth in the rural areas; training of artisans as youth empowerment; supply of transformers for some rural communities; empowerment and post-harvest training for farmers in some rural communities; construction of fish ponds to empower youth in the rural communities; purchase and supply of some agriculture and farming equipment; capacity building on fruits and vegetable processing; purchase of motorcycles for extension work and procurement of fertilizers for farmers; strategic training and empowerment of local farmers; renovation of some selected primary and secondary schools in some local communities; supply of furniture in some designated primary and secondary schools and construction of VIP toilets in primary schools.