The Permanent Secretary in the State House, Jalal Arabi, yesterday said rodents and other pests are in the Presidential Villa because of its location and availability of what he called “eatables”. He spoke when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs.
Arabi was responding to a question by a member of the committee, Senator Joshua Lidani (PDP, Gombe).
Lidani had said: “On a lighter note, have you made provision for fumigation? Because there were reports that rodents invaded the president’s office last year.”
Responding, Arabi said: “You know Abuja is so blessed with so many eatables, attracting rodents and other animals. You know where the Villa is located, it’s on a valley. You can’t restrict their movement because of the international convention on animals,” he said.
The president couldn’t operate from his office when rodents were said to have damaged furniture and fittings in the office last year. His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, issued a statement on this.
On the State House Clinic, he said there was a general misconception about the medicals, saying over 44,000 Nigerians received free medical service including drugs. He said against zero capital allocation to the Hospital in 2017, N698m had been earmarked for it this year.
“In all we do, we don’t charge a kobo. I don’t think there is any health facility that you just walk in without paying. The bottom line is because services are freely offered and the hospital relies on subvention, the challenge will be there,” he said.
The committee chairman, Senator Tijjani Kaura (APC, Zamfara), urged the government to reconsider its position on offering free medical services at the hospital.
“Why should it be free 100%? If in order to get rid of the problem, why can’t you come up with little charges? It shouldn’t be free,” he said.