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By Erasmus Ikhide
BY May 29, 2019 the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would have wasted a colossal sum of N47.8b on the maintenance of the 10-aircraft of the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF). But the President’s image handlers like Lia Mohammed and the Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika have been touting and explaining to Nigerians why these images of corruption and objects of economy drain dotted our airspace in a sanctimonious government that implements its manifesto in the breach.
The revelation was made at the early life of President Buhari’ government that the Federal Government had spent about N5.8bn on the 10-aircraft in the PAF it inherited from former President Goodluck in six months. The PAF is the third largest fleet in the country, coming after Arik Air and Aerocontractors Airlines which have 23 and 12 aircraft in their fleets respectively. Other domestic airlines including FirstNation, MedView Airlines, Dana Air, Air Peace and Overland Airways have less than 10-aircraft each in their fleets.
According to calculations done from estimated data obtained from aviation parastatals and domestic airline operators in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will have spent about $58.58m (N11.598bn) on running and maintaining the 10-aicraft presidential fleet every year. This means that the half of this amount, $29.29m (N5.799bn), was spent in principle on the large fleet every six months!
It didn’t occur to the President that 10 planes in the presidential fleet are too many for a poorly run country like Nigeria while the citizens are groaning under the yoke of excruciating poverty and joblessness. Neither did he spare a thought that former Uruguay’s President, José Mujica lives in a humble cottage, drives himself to work in a Volkswagen Beetle car and flies economy class. President Buhari was too far disconnected from the world affairs to know that the government of Mujica provides free computers and education for every child in Uruguay through the university level.
In spite of his regular visit to the UK to furnish his protracted illness, Buhari is too far removed as a potentate to know that In Britain which boasts aircraft manufacturing companies that the Prime Minister and the Queen of England travel on commercial flights because of the government’s aircraft for the PM lack transcontinental capability. He lacks the understanding that the President, Prime Minister and government officials in Singapore typically travel on regular scheduled commercial flights run by Singapore Airlines.
Buhari and his deceptive government are too blinded to know that Japan and Netherlands have two aircrafts each in their fleets. It was beyond him to know that Hong Kong leaders travel on commercial aircraft. His naivety prevented him from knowing that countries like Ghana, Algeria and a host of others in Europe maintain only one aircraft in their PAF, yet these countries are better efficiently governed than Nigeria.
It’s on record that the PAF include two Falcon 7X jets, two Falcon 900 jets, a Gulfstream 550, one Boeing 737 BBJ (Nigerian Air Force 001 or Eagle One), and a Gulfstream IVSP. Others are one Gulfstream V, Cessna Citation 2 aircraft and Hawker Siddeley 125-800 jet.
Each of the Falcon 7X jets was purchased in 2010 at a cost of $51.1m, while the Gulfstream 550 costs $53.3m. The factory price of the other aircraft in the fleet is not readily available then. However, airline CEOs put the average price of the Falcon 900 at $35m; Gulfstream IVSP, $40m; Gulfstream V, $45m; Boeing 737 BBJ, $58m; Cessna Citation, $7m; and Hawker Siddeley 125-800, $15m. This brings a combined estimated value of the PAF to $390.5m (N60.53bn).
To the people’s disappointment, concerns raised over the economic sense behind the large mix of brands of aircraft in the PAF were rebuffed. Going by the Nigerian Air Force’s website, the PAF’s current staff strength consists of 47 NAF officers, 173 airmen/airwomen and 96 technical and administrative civilians. More disheartening is the fact that several billion yearly budget for the PAF goes into the maintenance of the aircraft. At least 15 per cent of this amount is spent annually on operating the PAF, which means about $58.57m (N9.08bn ) is being spent annually on running the planes in the Nigerian PAF.
You may ask yourself why is President Buhari not following the shining example of
former President of Malawi, Mrs Joyce Banda’s who sold off the only presidential aircraft she inherited, alongside a fleet of 60 Mercedes limousines? Buhari’s earliest signs of the presidential mishap were his inability to convert the 10-aircrafts in the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) six months after assuming power in accordance with his campaign promise over which he flayed former President Goodluck Jonathan for profligacy. His haphazard attempt at floating a national carrier after more than three and a half-year in office has further ridiculed his comatose presidency as much as one of the APC’s aborted promises.
The president has been riding Nigerians masses in their mouth without fulfilling any of his electoral manifestoes without much interrogation. And I have been asking, is it because we have our memories to forget? Someone — actually, not too long ago — pointed out to me outside the borders of this country that Nigerians are in the sordid state of vocal collapse and in a total state of collective amnesia, as a result, poor education or lack of it.
This is even more entrenched and traumatizing because Buhari’s hailers have been telling Nigerians to forgot since Buhari is not the first president who made promises — “CHANGE” — without fulfilling them. You can pick your chose as to why Nigerians are not probing APC and Buhari’s government vigorously in spite of manifest failures! The bottom line is that Nigeria is in the ditch!!
Buhari’s fraudulent National Carrier to Nowhere squandered a whopping sum of $600,000 (N183 million) to design a logo in Bahrain by foreigners. And the logo was unveiled in London, another foreign land, and the whole Nigeria Air scam was “suspended” in Nigeria!
It’s an understatement to say that Buhari/APC government holds the Nigerian masses in contempt — first for obvious deceit, deliberate manipulation and exploitation of the people enlightenment weakness, the systematic corruption and the brazen looting of the commonwealth. It’s the same reason Nigerian electorate must pull down Buhari/APC clannish, corrupt, tyrannical government next year.
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