*As President inaugurates N21bn State House hospital
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The First Lady, Aisha Buhari, has said overseas medicals for Nigerian Presidents will henceforth become a thing of the past with the inauguration of the N21 billion Presidential/VIP Wing of the State House Medical Center, located within the precincts of the State House in Abuja.
Speaking at the inauguration of the medical centre yesterday, Aisha Buhari, who accompanied her husband to the event, stressed that the new facility will stop incessant travel abroad by Nigerian presidents and their family members for medicals.
The First Lady who spoke to newsmen after Buhari had cut the tape and concluded a guided tour of the facility, said she bought the idea of executing the project in 2017, following the extensive stay of her husband abroad for medical treatment.
According to her, now that the facility is in place, Nigerian Presidents and their family members will no longer need to go abroad for treatment but may only fly medical experts to assist their colleagues in the country.
She said: “This one is for the health and wellness of the First Family. They don’t need to go abroad now. They only need to maybe fly in experts to help our people. You know. So, no need for any leader to spend months and months abroad because of health care.
“I’m quite happy, feeling fulfilled. Though we are leaving but all the same, we thank God the project has come to reality.
“I initiated this project six years ago when my husband spent three months abroad, consecutively, 90 days, and it shouldn’t be because we have all the experts in Nigeria. We only need a good platform.
“The hospital that is supposed to serve the First Family is serving like 35,000 people, which is quite much.
“That’s why I insisted we should have a VIP Wing within the proximity of the presidential villa.”
In his speech, President Buhari said the new state-of-the-art Medical Centre will boost health infrastructure in the country by far, calling for the judicious use of the facility to maximise its benefits.
The Medical Centre was conceptualised by the previous administration 11 years ago.
Accompanied by members of the first family, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Gambari; and the Permanent Secretary of the State House, Tijjani Umar, the President toured the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory (CathLab), Operating Rooms for regular and specialized procedures, Intensive Care Unit, Specialized Infectious Disease Isolation Suites, and Specialized consultation rooms.
He expressed satisfaction with the fully-equipped and operational medical facilities at the Centre, noting that in the past eight years, holistic health care has been given a priority.
During his tour, President Buhari interacted with the local medical staff who received specialised training on handling the advanced equipment available at the facility.
Also speaking, the State House Permanent Secretary explained that the VIP facility is intended to be a one-stop shop for the provision of medical services to the President, Vice President and their families, as well as other VIPs.
According to him: “The establishment of the facility reflects Mr President’s commitment to prioritising the health and well-being of Nigerians.”
He recounted that the concept of establishing a medical facility within the seat of government was conceived in 2012.
He said this initial idea resulted in the creation of a project brief in 2013, outlining the objectives, scope, and specifications for the facility’s construction.
However, it wasn’t until 2020 that President Buhari gave his approval for a comprehensive geotechnical survey and assessment of seven potential sites.