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HomeNewsFG Spent ₦14.77 Billion On Presidential Jets In 11 Months — State...

FG Spent ₦14.77 Billion On Presidential Jets In 11 Months — State House Report

The Federal Government has allocated a substantial ₦14.77 billion for the repair and maintenance of the presidential air fleet over the past 11 months.

According to Punch, these funds were disbursed in 11 tranches from 16th July 2023 to 25th May 2024, utilizing the State House headquarters transit account designated for the Presidential Air Fleet Transit Funds.

This financial outlay comes at a time when the National Assembly is considering the approval for the purchase of two new aircraft for the presidential fleet.

The decision follows revelations that the President’s primary aircraft, a 19-year-old Boeing 737, along with several others in the fleet, have become dysfunctional due to age and wear.

The House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence has been instrumental in pushing forward these plans, having included the procurement in its technical subcommittee report.

The potential cost for acquiring two new state-of-the-art aircraft is estimated by experts to be over $623.4 million, or approximately ₦918.7 billion.

The report read in part, “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 technical/operational inadequacy of the Presidential Air Fleet, it is in the best interest of the country to procure two additional aircraft as recommended. This will also prove to be most cost-efficient in the long run, aside from the added advantage of providing a suitable, comfortable and safe carrier befitting of the status and responsibilities of the offices of the President and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

In recent times, there has been serious contention about the state of the air fleet despite enormous government resources spent on it during past administrations.

The unavailability of the president’s jet has seen President Bola Tinubu charter private jets, and Kashim Shettima abandon international trips.

The Vice President on May 6, 2024, abandoned his trip to the 2024 US-Africa Business Summit due to a technical fault with his official aircraft.

The Vice President was scheduled to represent the President, who had to board a commercial aircraft to Saudi Arabia after his main luxury jet was taken for rehabilitation and a second aircraft he was travelling in developed a technical snag in The Netherlands.

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The Presidency currently maintains a fleet of six aircraft, namely a Boeing 737, a Gulfstream G550, a Gulfstream GV, two Falcon 7Xs, and a Challenger CL605, as well as six helicopters— two Agusta 139s and four Agusta 189s.

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Buhari’s government spent ₦62.47bn for the operation and maintenance of PAF during his eight-year tenure.

Though Buhari promised to reduce the size of the fleet as part of his pledge to cut the cost of governance, checks reveal that his administration failed to live up to this promise.

In the 2016 budget, ₦3.65bn was allocated for the PAF, but this rose to ₦4.37bn in the 2017 fiscal year.

In 2018 and 2019, the allocation almost doubled, amounting to ₦7.26bn and ₦7.30bn, respectively. Closer observation showed a slight drop by ₦503.75m in 2020 when ₦6.79bn was budgeted for the fleet.

The allocation surged to ₦12.55bn and ₦12.48bn in the 2021 and 2022 fiscal budgets, respectively, before the ₦8.07bn allocation in 2023.

Meanwhile, checks by Punch using GovSpend, a civic tech platform that tracks and analyses the Federal Government’s spending, showed that Tinubu approved the disbursement of ₦14.77bn within one year of assuming office.

The amount is separate from expenses incurred during foreign and local trips by the President, Vice-President and other officials.

₦1.52bn was approved in July 2023 for maintenance and was followed by a payment of ₦3.1bn in August.

The next tranche was paid in November 2023 with a disbursement of ₦1.26bn. The government also paid ₦2.54bn in March 2024, ₦6.35bn in April 2024 and ₦1.27bn last month.

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