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FG Set To Reform Armed Forces Healthcare Service

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Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd), yesterday, said that the Federal Government has concluded plans to reform the healthcare system of the Nigerian armed forces.
The reformation, which include the construction of a state of the art military hospital, according to Magashi, would go a long way to cater the health needs of wounded soldiers, veterans, members of their families and the general public.
Magashi, made this known in his keynote address at the Needs Assessment and Strategic Review Project Kick-Off Workshop on Reforming Military Health Services held in Nigeria held in Abuja.
He reiterated the need for a coordinated and unified armed forces healthcare delivery system to tackle the enormous health challenges.
The minister while noting that the healthcare system was an important component of the reform of the ministry and the armed forces approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, said the ministry has resolved to review the armed forces health system, identify gaps and reposition it to better service delivery.
He said that as obtainable in other parts of the world, the new Ministry of Defence “will have a mix of military and civilian personnel working together in an integrated manner to provide multi-disciplinary advice and expertise for an effective management of the ministry by the Honourable Minister of Defence”.
“The armed forces health system is bedevilled with numerous challenges necessitating the need to engage a consultant to carry out a comprehensive needs assessment.
“The essence is to review the state of our facilities, dearth in medical personnel, inadequate equipment and parallel health care delivery services with a view to upgrading our facilities, recruiting more personnel and to boost the morale of our armed forces and civilians alike.
“My vision is to put in place mechanisms that will lead to the establishment of a world class military hospital akin to Walter Reed Military Hospital in the USA.
“It will successfully manage officers and soldiers injured in battle as well as provide serving personnel, veterans, their families and indeed Nigerians quality healthcare services’’.
In his address, the Permanent Secretary, Dr Ibrahim Kana, while noting that a number of military hospitals across the countryrequires overhaul and reform in terms of facilities and manpower, said that the Nigerian military Health Management Organisation (HMO) had been in the forefront of providing universal health coverage to both serving and retired personnel.
Kana, who said there were gaps that exist despite of the successes so far recorded bythe military in healthcare delivery, said, “Now we are focusing on operational efficiency in order for us to reposition, the armed forces health facilities for optimal performance.
“We want to see a situation whereby we begin to go back to the olden days where we have the core medical, whereby the armed forces actually recruit medical students and other students from the university so they can begin to condition their minds.
“So when they graduate, they go to the academy, get trained and fall into service with their uniforms. That is our vision again as part of the reform,’’.
The permanent secretary, who commended the armed forces for playing an active role at ensuring effective healthcare delivery in the country during COVID-19 crisis, noted the role of the Nigerian Air Force who provided oxygen and emergency ventilator to medical facilities across the country for COVID-19 patients.
He said that the Nigerian army was also involved in providing free medical services across the country during the pandemic while the Nigerian army has also been offering free surgical services, particularly in hard to reach areas.
He said, “We know for some time now the country has been bedevilled by insurgency, banditry, and other all forms of insecurity, thereby making it difficult for people in rural areas, and in particular in those areas to access healthcare.
“The Nigerian armed forces being what they are, actually rose to the equation again to continue to provide services, including health services.
“Nigerian Armed Forces Medical Services did not only limit its services to military alone, they have continued to provide services civilians during the peacekeeping operations’’.
Earlier in his address, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, who while noting that the reformation plan of the ministry aligned with the vision of the armed forces to enhance the morale component of war fighting, said the initiative would go a long way in stabilising the society.
The CDS, who said that healthcare and emotional wellbeing of personnel remained critical to the moral component, noted that the project was long overdue especially when the armed forces have been engaged in internal security operations for decades, adding that the impact of these operations on personnel was unimaginable.
He said “And I think that at the conclusion of this project, the impact and value that it will bring to the wellbeing of members of the armed forces is better imagine.
“I believe this project ought to have been yesterday,the intention is to optimize medical management of our armed forces”.
The workshop which held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, was attended by foreign partners, including the representatives of the US Embassy, World Bank, Uk foreign office as well as service chiefs, of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

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Customs Suspends Rice Sale As Seven Die In Stampede

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The Nigeria Customs Service has announced the suspension of the sale of foodstuffs following a stampede that reportedly killed seven persons at the NCS Old Zonal Headquarters in the Yaba area of Lagos State, last Friday.
A Chief Superintendent of Customs and National Public Relations Officer for Comptroller General of Customs, Abdullahi Maiwada, disclosed the suspension of the exercise in a statement on Monday.
Nigeria Customs had said it was selling seized food items at N10,000 per 25kg to alleviate the people’s suffering as a result of the current high cost of living and other economic hardships.
Last Friday, a pregnant woman and six others reportedly died in a stampede after some suspected hoodlums attempted to force their way into the Yaba Customs office compound.
Some Lagos residents who thronged the NCS office in Yaba expressed disappointment on Monday following the suspension of the initiative.
However, in a statement on Monday evening, the NCS said the suspension became necessary considering “the recent unfortunate event.”
“We regrettably announce the suspension of this exercise until we establish what transpired on Friday, February 23, 2024,” the NCS spokesman said.
He explained that: “The disposal of the food items got off to a smooth start at about 0800hrs. We enjoyed the cooperation of the large crowd that obliged us, giving preferences to the elderly, people living with disabilities, pregnant women, and other vulnerable Nigerians who showed up for the exercise.
“This was the case up until about 1700hrs, as attested to by the over 5,000 beneficiaries and members of the press. However, unforeseen challenges arose when we ran out of stock and announced the continuation of the exercise the following day, leading to a regrettable outcome.
“The crowd became desperate and charged through our barricades in search of rice bags inside emptied containers. In the stampede that ensued, some fatalities and injuries were regrettably recorded.”
The Customs extended its “heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the unfortunate incident.”
The service said it was working with health authorities to establish contact and engage directly with the victims’ families on their next steps.

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Court Dismisses Police Objection Against Fubara’s CoS …Restrains Police From Arresting Ehie

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A Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt, yesterday, dismissed the preliminary objection by counsel to the Nigerian Police, Celestine Dickson, challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to hear the fundamental rights suit by the Chief of Staff to Governor Siminalayi Fubara, Hon. Edison Ehie against the police for lack of merit.
The trial Judge, Justice Sika Aprioku, in a ruling, yesterday, assumed jurisdiction and held that the non-joinder of the Nigeria Police Force in a matter that the Commissioner of Police is a party to does not render the suit incompetent.
Justice Aprioku said the application by the Police lacks merit and thereby dismissed it with a cost of N100,000 in favour of Hon Edison Ehie.
Aprioku also granted the prayers of the counsel to Edison, Damian Okoro to restrain the Police from arresting, detaining, harassing, or inviting Ehie based on the trumped-up charges in the suit by Rt Hon. Martin Amaewhule in connection to the destruction of the Hallow chamber of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, counsel to the Police, Celestine Dickson, said he would study the judgment and advise his clients accordingly.
Dickson stated, “That is the wisdom of the court and we cannot criticise the wisdom of the court. The outcome of court decisions must bind parties.
“If you are not satisfied I think you study the judgement and take the next step. The court made it clear that in a couple of minutes, we were going to have copies of the judgement. That will give us the opportunity to look at the judgement and advise our clients accordingly.
On his part, one of the counsel to the Chief of Staff, Ibioku Mac-Barango said the judgment reflects the position of the law.

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Fubara Expresses Confidence In Tinubu To Address Labour Concerns

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In the midst of the ongoing nationwide protest organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has expressed confidence in President Bola Tinubu’s ability to address the concerns raised by the organised labour and alleviate their fears.
Fubara gave the assurance during the NLC’s protest to the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday .
The State NLC, led by its chairman, Alex Agwanwor, had joined its counterparts in other parts of the country to protest against high cost of living in the country occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government in May last year.
Recall that there have been a series of protests across the country over the cost of living, inflation, insecurity and hardship among Nigerians.
The NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had on February 8 issued a 14-day nationwide strike notice to the Federal Government over the failure to implement the agreements reached on October 2, 2023 following the removal of the fuel subsidy.
Responding to a letter of demands presented to the governor by the State NLC, Fubara noted that the grievances outlined by the protesters primarily fell within the purview of the Federal Government.
The governor, who was represented by the Head of the Rivers State Civil Service, Dr. George Nwaeke, said, “To all who listened to every presentation of the labour leader as it is being read out, we can find out none is local, not originating from local source here. They are all national issues and we have hope in the Renewed Hope Agenda of the Federal Government. We have hope. And I know Governor Fubara will also deliver this message as presented by you to the President.”
Fubara further assured the protesters that his administration remained committed to alleviating the economic hardships faced by the people of Rivers State.
He highlighted initiatives such as the provision of palliative buses in response to the fuel subsidy removal and the ongoing development of 20,000 housing units for low-income earners.
The governor also emphasized his administration’s dedication to improving the welfare of civil servants, citing measures such as the employment of 10,000 youths into the state civil service, promotions, and the provision of bonuses.
He affirmed the significance of the issues raised and reiterated his commitment to prioritizing the welfare of workers in the State.
He, however, assured that the NLC’s demands would be conveyed to the President as presented.

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