The ground breaking ceremony for a 200 bed capacity referral hospital for the Nigeria Army has been performed in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital.
The hospital, billed to cover a general area of 6.8 hectares, would in addition to other regular units and departments, house a psychiatric ward to take care of traumatised soldiers.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, represented by the Chief of Army Policy and Plans, Lieutenant General Lamido Adeosun, at the event, commended President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor David Umahi for their various degrees of support to the Army.
Buratai maintained that the Nigeria Army was concerned about the welfare of its officers and men with their families, adding that the hospital would provide prompt and quality medical services to the 82 Division of the Army and beyond.
According to him, the hospital, which would also offer medical services to the general public, would be equipped to serve the South East and South South zones of the country.
Buratai praised the gallantry of the Nigeria Army, whom he said has made tremendous achievements in fighting insurgency in the country, and called on them to sustain the tempo.
Buratai explained: “Let me use this medium to commend the officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army for their gallantry in various operations across the length and breadth of our dear country, Nigeria.
“I must say that we have made remarkable progress in the fight against insurgency, militancy, arson, oil bunkering, kidnapping and other criminal activities in the country.
“The Nigerian Army is committed to ensuring the welfare of its personnel and their families, including the deceased families.
“We are gathered here today to give boost to our efforts at providing efficient healthcare delivery to our personnel as well as the general populace within the South East region of Nigeria.
“The internal security efforts of the Nigerian Army have sometimes resulted to casualties that require tertiary level of medical care, of which some of of our reference hospitals could not provide
“The evacuation of personnel to some of the hospitals have often resulted to the loss of much time, especially in emergency cases.
“This is in addition to the stress the patients go through during such movements.
“It is on this premise that the Nigerian Army has decided to start the construction of the 200 bed capacity hospital to handle tertiary level healthcare for our troops and their families.”
Laying the foundation stone for the project, the host Governor, Engr. David Umahi, who was also the Special Guest of Honour at the event, described the siting of the project in the State as a miracle.
He appreciated President Buhari for finding Ebonyi State fit to host the hospital, adding that the State has been very lucky with the Army considering the enormous services they have continued to render to it.
Umahi, who used the occasion to disagree with the National Assembly’s call on President Buhari to change the Service Chiefs in the country, rather called for increase in funding and logistics for the Army as well as bridging existing information gaps to better equip them for greater impact.
He observed that any change of the Service Chiefs now would be somewhat counter productive as the new persons would still have to study the terrain first before desired action.
Umahi said: “And I want to disagree with the National Assembly, in my view, about the change of Service Chiefs.
“One thing I have come to realise in this country is that we like change too much.
“We want everybody to taste every seat, but that is not what we need at this crucial time of our security challenge.
“What we need is cooperation with the security agencies.
“Without undermining the former Inspector-Generals, the present Inspector General is a different human being….
“The Chief of Army Staff is also a very committed person, very friendly with the civil society.
“So what these people need is cooperation, information.
“It is difficult for people to do anything without information.”
The event was attended by the Deputy Governor of Abia State, Udo Oko Chukwu; his Anambra State counterpart, Nkem Okeke; Senior Army Officers, including the Chief of Army Administration, Major General U.S. Yakubu; and the General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Major General Lasisi Adegboye.