By Abraham Olatokunbo
Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai on Monday laid the foundation for the construction of 200-bed capacity Army reference hospital in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
The hospital is to be built close to a bunker that was created by the Boko Haram at the peak of the insurgency, in their attempt to penetrate Maimalari Army Cantonment through a tunnel, before they were dislodged by Nigerian troops.
Buratai, while performing the groundbreaking ceremony and laying of the foundation, disclosed that the Nigerian Army decided to construct the 200-bed capacity hospital to handle health issues affecting troops, their families and civil populace in Borno.
He noted that the hospital on completion will be adequately furnished and equipped to meet international standard.
The Army Chief added that the Nigerian Army has been at the forefront of providing quality healthcare to troops, urging relevant stakeholders to support the initiative for a speedy completion of the project.
He said: “It is with great joy and deep sense of honour that I stand before you to witness the groundbreaking ceremony of the Nigerian Army reference hospital. I am particularly glad that this event is holding despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Let me use this medium to commend officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army for their gallantry in dealing with the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists and other criminal elements across the country.
“Nigerian Army is committed to ensuring welfare of its personnel and families including families of deceased colleagues. We are gathered here today to boost efforts at providing effective and efficient healthcare delivery for personnel.
“Within the Northeast region, the counter-insurgency efforts of the Nigerian Army sometimes resulted to casualty that required special medical care , which currently, the 44 Nigerian Army reference hospital provides.
“Evacuation of personnel in Kaduna has often resulted to waste of valuable time especially, for emergency reasons. It is on this premise that the Nigerian Army has decided to construct 200-bed capacity to handle health needs of troops, their families and the general public,” Buratai further said.
He prayed for the repose of souls of gallant officers and men who had paid the supreme price in the course of uniting the country and thanked president Muhammadu Buhari for his contribution to the Nigerian Army.
He also appreciated Borno state governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum for the logistics and other supports to the Army, including approval for the piece of land the hospital is being built on.
In his remarks, Borno state Governor, Babagana Zulum, said the state government shares the same philosophy that Buratai has in establishing an Army referral hospital and provision of personnel welfare.
He said the completion of the hospital will also strengthen military/civil relations.
“The completion of this hospital will add more values to both troops and communities of Borno state. Let me urge all of you to be well focused, supportive and patriotic at ensuring that our father land remains safe and secured,” Zulum who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Babagana Wakil, said.