President Muhammadu Buhari has commissioned the newly constructed 261 Nigerian Air Force Reference Hospital in Bauchi.
The establishment of the medical facility became necessary to specially provide additional medical support for members of the Armed Forces involved in counter insurgency operations in the Northeast.
In his welcome address, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, stated that the services of the hospital would also be extended to civilians, which had been the tradition in the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
He added that the hospital is part of the efforts of the current NAF leadership to reform the healthcare system of the Service and to support the on-going counter insurgency operations by ensuring the availability of immediate quality medical care to those injured in active service.
Speaking further, the CAS stated that the NAF is using its medical facilities in its campaign of “Winning Hearts and Minds of the populace”, which has been a major component of its counter insurgency strategy in the Northeast.
He acknowledged that the achievements would not have been possible without the support of President Buhari and therefore expressed profound appreciation to the President for the support that the NAF, and indeed the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), had been enjoying under the current Federal Government Administration.
He also specially thanked the President for putting the Service on a trajectory that is fast restoring its glory, noting that under his administration, 15 new aircraft had been inducted into service with another 4 set to be inducted before the end of 2018 while 12 hitherto grounded aircraft had been reactivated.
The CAS then pledged that NAF personnel, under his leadership, would re-double efforts to ensure the security of Nigerians and uphold the present democratic ideals for the progress and prosperity of our fatherland.
Air Marshal Abubakar equally thanked the Executive Governor of Bauchi State for allocating the huge parcel of land the NAF Base is today located. Additionally, he thanked members of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate and House Committees on Air Force for their support to the Service.
In his remarks at the occasion, the Honourable Minister of Defence (HMOD), Mansur Dan Ali, said that the task of nation building and security could only be achieved if the safety of the citizens and territorial integrity of a nation are guaranteed. Hence, the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Defence, would continue to invest in the provision of infrastructure for members of the AFN.
He noted that the construction of the NAF Base and the hospital took the leadership of the NAF less than one year to accomplish and therefore appreciated the President for empowering the NAF to achieve the feat and also congratulated the CAS for his purposeful leadership.
The HMOD added that the state-of-the-art facilities in the hospital was a testimony of the Federal Government’s commitment to provide the best possible medical care to members of the AFN as a whole. He also commended the NAF for greatly contributing to the maintenance of security and the defence of democracy.
While addressing the audience, President Buhari disclosed that the hospital is part of the growing commitment to enhance the welfare of troops in the theatre of operations.
The President further stated that the counter insurgency efforts would be enhanced by the location of this medical facility because of its proximity to the theatres of operation.
“The strategic goal is that more lives will be saved from operational injuries”, he explained. President Buhari also indicated that the new NAF hospital would reinforce the national trauma medical support for critical emergencies such as natural or man-made disasters.
He then thanked and commended the NAF for initiating and completing this facility while urging it to ensure sustainability of maintenance and quality delivery of service to members of the AFN and the civil populace.
The President also commended the NAF for reviewing its order of battle in response to current and emerging threats facing the country and noted that the NAF remained a key component of the Armed Forces in its constitutional role of providing aid to civil authorities across the country. After his address, the President undertook a tour of the hospital alongside other guests.
The newly commissioned NAF Reference Hospital is a 60-bed hospital that consists of an Accident and Emergency Unit, Intensive Care Unit, Twin Theatres, Radio Diagnostic Unit as well as Renal Dialysis, Ophthalmic, Dental, Physiotherapy, Maternal and new born units in addition to a mortuary.
It is also equipped with modern diagnostic and Life Support equipment intended to provide medical care to critically ill patients such as those wounded in combat.
It is noteworthy that in the past 2 and half years, the NAF has embarked on a deliberate upgrade of its medical facilities through enhancement of existing infrastructure, provision of modern equipment, training of existing staff and recruitment of appropriate professionals to bridge the manpower deficiency in its healthcare facilities.
All the 31 medical facilities of the NAF have benefited from this upgrade while the NAF Medical Centre in Port Harcourt was also recently reconstructed and upgraded to a reference hospital status.