The Nigerian Air Force on Saturday inaugurated a 60-bed hospital in Port Harcourt to cater for the medical needs of wounded troops and their families.
The Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, who inaugurated the “Reference Hospital” at the 115 Special Operations Group, Nigerian Air Force Base in Port Harcourt, said the hospital would serve as a reference point for delivery of medical services for personnel and residents in the area.
According to him, the recent establishment of air force commands and recruitment of more personnel into the service necessitated the upgrade of its medical facilities across the country.
“The reference hospital was necessitated due to increased demand for medical services occasioned by the expansion of NAF force structure and our engagement in various theatres of operations.
“The hospital and other nearby NAF medical centres would cater for personnel medical needs in the South-south geopolitical zone; cater for their dependants and host communities.
“The facility, which was a medical centre was renovated and remodelled into a 60-bed hospital – while additional structures were constructed to accommodate more specialised equipment and furniture.
“The hospital has a fully equipped laboratory; an eye clinic and dental centre – while other medical services offered include CT scanning, and renal dialysis, among others”, he said.
Mr. Abubakar said the hospital would carry out clinical research and serve as a resource bank for interns and other health professionals.
He stated that the on-going upgrade of NAF hospitals and medical centres is part of efforts to reposition the country’s air force as a lethal fighting force.
The air chief added that the expansion of NAF medical centres in Abuja, Benin, Enugu, Ipetu-Ijesha (Osun), Kainji (Niger), Kano, Makurdi (Benue), Warri (Delta) and in 23 other commands had been completed.
Speaking, Duro Faseyi, Chairman, Senate Committee on Air Force, congratulated the air force high command for providing medical, accommodation, training, recreational and sporting facilities across it commands.
He said that the recent acquisition of fighter jets, platforms and training equipment had strengthened the combat readiness of troops, a development which led to the recent successes recorded in military operations in the North-east.
“All of this is significant as it would boost morale and motivate officers, airmen and airwomen when carrying out their duties”, he said.
Meanwhile, in a bid to further boost security in the Niger Delta, the Chief of Defence Staff, (CDS), Abayomi Olonisakin, on Saturday also inaugurated 20 gunboats.
Mr. Olonisakin said at the inauguration of the boats in Warri that the recent threat by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to resume hostilities in the region was a sad commentary on the collective security of the environment.
He expressed regret at the continued threat of violence, noting that the Avengers’ threat had dealt an unfortunate blow to the collective well-being of the oil-rich region.
The army chief said that the new boats would help boost the Navy’s operational capacity, especially in the effort to stamp out various threats prevalent in the maritime environment.
While acknowledging the right of people to agitation, Mr. Olonisakin said any agitation associated with violence was unconstitutional and would be firmly dealt with by the armed forces.
“There has been continuing militarisation and proliferation of weapons among militant groups in the Niger Delta.
“This has ended up in a sharp increase in the threat level in the region. The inauguration of these platforms today is in line with the programme of general preparedness, which the Nigerian Navy has continued to maintain effective deterrent and good operational posture.
“It has pursued this by generating adequate maritime leverage domain awareness’’, he said.
Mr. Olonosakin commended the Navy for patronising indigenous companies to construct 16 of the gunboats.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the other four boats were constructed by a South African company.
The CDS said the successful construction of the 16 boats was a clear testimony that with adequate encouragement, the underdeveloped technological capacity of indigenous companies could be harnessed for national development and improved security.
Earlier, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Ibok-Ete Ibas, had said that Nigeria relied on full based resources, particularly oil and gas as well as maritime based commerce, for sustainable national development.
Also, Abubakar Al-Hassan, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Central Naval Command, said that the induction of the platform was a milestone in the protection of the country’s wealth.
“It will stimulate commercial activities in the Niger Delta region’’, he said.
Festus Agas, Commissioner for Information in Delta, who represented Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, applauded the Navy for promoting local content in its effort at providing adequate security in the country’s maritime environment.