The First Lady, Aisha Buhari, on Friday in Abuja, said the newly inaugurated N21bn presidential wing of the State House Medical Centre would end the need for future presidents and their family members to seek medical treatment abroad.
She said this when she joined President Muhammadu Buhari and other dignitaries to inaugurate the facility at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Aisha revealed that she first nurtured the idea of a presidential wing medical facility in 2017 after her husband’s extensive stay in London for treatment.
In May 2017, the President flew to London for a medical pilgrimage lasting 104 days; his longest since assuming office.
With the facility ready for use, the outgoing First Lady said Nigerian Presidents and their family members would only need to fly medical experts over to Abuja to assist their indigenous colleagues, rather than going on expensive foreign trips.
She said, “I’m quite happy and feeling fulfilled. Though we are leaving, but all the same, we thank God that the project has come to reality.
“I initiated this project six years ago when my husband spent three months abroad, 90 days consecutively. 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 that we should have a VIP wing within the proximity of the Presidential Villa.”
On if the medical centre would now make it unnecessary for Nigerian leaders to receive treatment abroad, she responded, “Yes! This one is for the health and wellness of the First Family. They don’t need to go abroad now. They only need to may be 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.”
The Presidential/VIP wing of the State House Medical Centre was conceptualised by the previous administration 11 years ago.
Buhari said the facility would boost health infrastructure in the country by far and called for its judicious use to maximise its benefits.
Accompanied by Aisha and other members of the first family; Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari; and the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, Buhari toured the cardiac catheterisation laboratory, operating rooms for regular and specialised procedures, Intensive Care Unit, specialised infectious disease isolation suites, and specialised consultation rooms.
The President expressed satisfaction with the fully-equipped and operational medical facilities at the centre, noting that in the past eight years, holistic health care had been given a priority.
During his tour of the facility, Buhari interacted with the local medical workers, who received specialised training in handling the advanced equipment available at the facility.
Umar said the medical centre would provide services for the President and his deputy as well as their families and other special guests.
He said, “The idea was conceived in 2012, which led to the generation of a project brief outlining its objectives, scope and specifications for its construction in 2013. But, it was only in 2020 and with the guidance and approval of Mr President that a comprehensive geotechnical survey and appraisal of seven sites was conducted for which he selected this site.
“The facility occupies a floor area of 2,485 square metres across one suspended floor and basement, and was awarded to Julius Berger Nigeria.”
The permanent secretary added that the facility reflected Buhari’s commitment to prioritising the health and well-being of all Nigerians.
Umar added, “The facility offers a wide range of specialised medical services, covering advanced diagnostics and treatment; that’s why it’s equipped with the latest medical equipment of global standards.
“Today, with the glory of God, all this was achieved due to the singular resolve and resilience of President Muhammadu Buhari to address this long-identified need for such a facility and bequeath a worthy legacy.”