…As Lawmakers Reject Budget Proposals By NAFDAC, 4 Others Over Poor Presentation
By Tordue Salem, Abuja
The House of Representatives has warned Nigerians to exercise caution in drug purchases, as medicines purchased and consumed at the moment, maybe either fake or expired ones, looted by hoodlums from the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) warehouse in Kaduna state.
Expired and fake drugs were said to have been stored there, and awaiting destruction before thugs broke in and carted them away.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Healthcare Services, Rep Yusuf Tanko Sununu, gave the advice on Tuesday while engaging heads of various agencies under the committee during the 2020/2021 budget defence exercise.
He urged members of the committee, as well as Nigerians, in general, to be watchful and careful with the kind of drugs they purchase following the looting of NAFDAC warehouse in Kaduna by criminals who carted away fake or expired drugs which were designated for destruction.
According to Rep. Sununu, the drugs stolen from the facility in Kaduna were impounded or seized by the agency who was waiting for clearance and approvals from the relevant authority to destroy the same.
Besides, the committee rejected budget presentations by 4 different agencies and also refused approval for their 2021 budget proposals, stressing their poor preparation.
The agencies sent back to rearrange their documents and return the committee are: the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS), the Institute of Public Analysts of Nigeria (IPAN), as well the Inter-country Centre for Oral Health in Africa.
The only agency who got the approval without a query was the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Registration Board of Nigeria (ODORBN).
One of the agencies most bashed for its poor preparation of budget was the IPAN, who seeks to acquire a headquarter building in Abuja, but only proposed a little above one million naira in the budget.
The committee chairman, Rep.Tanko Sununu, particularly took offence with the proposal, saying that the Institute has only succeeded in ridiculing Nigeria as a country.
The chairman who came in later to join the exercise ably chaired by his deputy, Rep. Samuel Adejare said that budget is a constitutional matter that should be taken very seriously.
He told the head of the Institute, Mr Aliyu Angara, that what he had presented was “laughable and unacceptable to propose just N1 million for the construction of a headquarter building in Abuja”.
“It is an act meant to ridicule Nigeria as a country”, the chairman said, adding that “the international community is watching every move Nigeria makes”.
Asked how many members the Institute has, the DG said 1000, and that they charge N10,000 for registration.
Members also expressed displeasure in the manner in which the government handles the Centre for Oral health, saying that the habit of leaving funding for important institutions in the country to foreign donors is appalling.
Deputy chairman who presided before the chairman’s arrival said: “if Nigeria cannot make adequate financial inputs to make the centre functional, we should relinquish it to another country”.
He said its only responsible for government to honour every agreement it has signed as a serious country, particularly as it relates to institutions cited here basically on the understanding that there will be counterpart funding from the government.
The response followed submission by the DG, Sani Balarabe, that the centre is hampered by lack of funding, disclosing international agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), and foreign countries have promised donations.
The Centre located in Jos, Plateau State has performed below expectations due to the volatility of the area, prompting the DG to propose the establishment of a liaison office in Abuja.
Committee after taking the DG’s responses resolved to pay an oversight visit for assessment before considering its 2021 budget. The ruling also applies to 3 others whose proposals were rejected.