Reps Want New Aircrafts for the President and his Vice

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In a move that many will consider as both insensitive and outrightly wasteful, the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence has recommended the procurement of new aircraft for President Bola Tinubu and Vice-President Kashim Shettima. This recommendation comes at a time when Nigeria is grappling with severe economic challenges, including significant national debt, widespread hunger, and a rapidly declining purchasing power among its citizens.

The committee’s report, which followed an investigation into the current status of the aircraft in the presidential air fleet, highlights concerns about the technical and operational adequacy of the existing fleet. “The committee is of the strong and informed opinion that, considering the fragile structure of the Nigerian federation and recognising the dire consequences of any foreseen or unforeseen mishap that may arise as a result of the technical or operational inadequacy of the presidential air fleet, it is in the best interest of the country to procure two additional aircraft as recommended,” the report states.

See Also: Buhari Spends N41bn on Presidential Fleet Despite Promise To Cut Cost

The committee argues that acquiring new aircraft would be cost-efficient in the long run and provide a suitable, comfortable, and safe mode of transport for the nation’s top leaders. However, this recommendation is in stark contrast to the realities faced by ordinary Nigerians.

In May, the House of Representatives mandated the committee to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the airworthiness and technical status of the presidential fleet, following a motion sponsored by Satomi Ahmed, chairman of the house committee. The motion led to heated debates among lawmakers, with some suggesting that the president should travel via commercial aircraft or by road.

This investigation was prompted by reports of faulty aircraft within the presidential fleet, which had previously forced President Tinubu to use a chartered plane from the Netherlands to Saudi Arabia during an official trip. Vice-President Shettima also had to cancel a trip to the United States due to issues with his aircraft, where he was scheduled to represent President Tinubu at the 2024 US-Africa business summit.

After thorough engagement with the officials, the sub-committee recommended the purchase of new aircraft for the president and vice-president, a recommendation which the main committee subsequently adopted.

The report, signed by Satomi Ahmed and Makwe Eric, clerk of the committee, details the current status of the presidential fleet, which comprises six aircraft and six helicopters. The fleet’s condition is as follows:

  • Boeing 737: 19 years old, currently unserviceable and undergoing maintenance.
  • Gulfstream G550: 13 years old, in good condition.
  • Gulfstream GV: 23 years old, unserviceable.
  • Falcon 7X (two): One serviceable, one unserviceable.
  • Challenger CL605: 12 years old, serviceable.

The helicopter fleet includes:

  • Agusta 139s (two): 17 and 18 years old, both unserviceable.
  • Agusta 189s (four): Condition not specified.

The recommendation to purchase new aircraft has not been well-received by the public, given the severe economic hardships the country is currently facing. Nigeria is burdened with significant debt, and President Tinubu has consistently called for citizens to be patient and endure the hard times.

Given these calls for austerity, the prospect of spending millions on new aircraft for the president and vice-president is seen by many hypocritical and a misuse of resources at a time when hunger is rife and purchasing power is plummeting.

Source: The Cable

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