Paul Orude, Bauchi
Bauchi came to a standstill, on Thursday, as hundreds of residents defied the scorching sun to line up the streets to welcome President Muhammad Buhari who was on a two-day official visit to the state.
Two previous planned visits by the president were aborted but shouts of ‘Sai Buhari’ rented the air as the long convoy moved towards the palace of the Emir of Bauchi, Dr. Rilwanu Adamu
The presidential jet which conveyed the president to the state had touched down at the Abubakar Abubakar International Airport, Bauchi, at exactly 10:23a.m.
The president was received by Governor Mohammed Abubakar in company with governor of Adamawa Senator Jibrilla Bindow.
Among Buhari’s aides who accompany him were Ministers of Defence, Mansur Dansur Dan-Ali, Education minister, Malam Adamu Adamu, Woman Affairs Hajia Aisha Jummai Alhassan, Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Femi Adeshina.
The president was also accompanied on the visit by service chiefs including Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Kpotun Idris.
From the airport, the president drove straight to the Special Operations Command of the Nigerian Air Force.
Speaking, President Buhari said that the establishment of the Special Operations Command of the Nigerian Air Force in Bauchi was in response to current and emerging threat facing the country.
The president made the remark while commissioning the 261 Nigerian Air Force Hospital Bauchi.
He stated that the special command which was co-located with the new hospital confirms the administration collective commitment to tackle any threat to the security of the country.
He said “the airfoce remains a key components of the armed forces in its constitutional role of providing aid to civil authorities across the country.
“These efforts include survellanc even, security airports, emergency assistance and resettlement of displaced people.
“These laudable efforts will continue in the interest of the country as it is our strategic goals to widen civil -military relationship.
The President said that he was delighted that the hospital, though a military facility will access civilians in an emergency and acknowledged that the hospital is of international standard.
President Buhari said that a counter-insurgency efforts were bound to be enhanced by the location of the hospital because of its proximity to the theater of operation adding that it will reduce the hitherto long distance to 44 Nigerian Army Reference hospital and Nigeria Air Force hospital Kaduna for casualties thus saving time for casualty evacuation.
He, therefore, urged the Air Force to put adequate mechanisms in place to ensure an enduring and optimal performance of the hospital, adding that it would eventually serve as a precursor to the resets listens of armed forces medical services (AFMS) as envisage in Defence policy of Nigeria”
Speaking earlier, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sodique Abubakar appreciated the president for the support given to the service saying “It has undoubtedly position the service to effectively discharge his statutory responsibilities as provided in the constitution .
The Air Force chief said the effect of the president’s support has manifested in the various theaters of operations especially in the geopolitical zones of the country.
His words, “In the North East alone, the NAF has flown 14.803 flying hours 29 minutes providing close air support, logistics supply, combat reconnaissance/patrols, battle interdiction and ISR roles to create the enabling environment for our grand troops to undertake their operations with little or no hindrance.
The Air Force Chief said the commissioning ceremony of the NAF Reference Hospital, in Bauchi, by the president was another giant stride of the service under the current administration.
He said though the hospital was established to provide care for to personnel of NAF and indeed the armed forces, it’s services have been extended to host community has it has been the tradition in NAF adding that it will enhance the cordial relationship that exist between the NAF and the host communities.
Abubakar said that NAF embarked on a deliberate upgrade of its medical facility through the enhancement of existing infrastructure, provision of modern equipment, Training of existing staff and recruitment of appropriate professionals to bridge the manpower deficiency in our health care facilities.