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N882bn aircraft: No sacrifice from citizens is too much for Tinubu- NASS



N882bn aircraft: No sacrifice from citizens is too much for Tinubu- NASS

As hunger and economic hardship bite harder citizens, National Assembly said President Tinubu and Vice President Shettima’s security remained a priority than economic hardship.


A Premium Times report had reported that the federal government has been making move to purchase Airbus A330 aircraft valued at $600 million, about N882 billion. The Federal government, through a Swiss company, has offered to pay about N147 billion.


The House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence requested the purchase of two new aircraft for the President and Vice President.


The Reps Committee said Nigeria has a fragile structure and added that any potential mishap due to technical or operational inadequacies would have serious consequences for the country.


According to Reps Committee, the presidential fleet six aircraft and six helicopters. Of the six aircraft: a Boeing 737, a Gulfstream G550, a Gulfstream GV, two Falcon 7Xs, and a Challenger CL605; three of the six aircraft are non-operational.


On the six helicopters: two Agusta 139s and four Agusta 189s. Bothe Agusta 139s are unserviceable according to Air Vice Marshal Olayinka Oyesola, PAF Commander.


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A break-down of the situation of the six aircraft and six helicopters that make up the presidential fleet by the Reps Committee showed that Boeing 737  – 19 years old – is unserviceable and undergoing annual maintenance. Gulfstream G550 – 13 years old –   is in good condition. Gulfstream GV, 23 years old, is also unserviceable.


Of the two Falcon 7Xs, one is operational while the other is not. The 12-year-old Challenger CL605 is serviceable. The unserviceable Agusta 139 helicopters are 17 and 18 years old respectively, according to Vanguard report.


In conclusion, the Committee said it “strongly believes that, given the fragile structure of the Nigerian federation and the serious consequences of any potential mishap due to technical or operational inadequacies of the Presidential Air Fleet, it is in the country’s best interest to procure two additional aircraft as recommended.


The report added that “this measure will also be cost-efficient in the long term, besides offering a suitable, comfortable, and safe means of transport that befits the status and responsibilities of the offices of the President and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”


Re-echoing the stand of the Reps Committee, Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence said though the country is facing economic difficulty, the lives of President Tinubu and Vice President Shettima cannot be jeopardized.


The Chairman of the Committee, Shehu Buba, in an interview said Nigerians who elected Tinubu and Shettima should be able to make any sacrifice that will guarantee safety of their leaders. Buba said Nigerians would not want to have experience of Malawi and Iran for their leaders.


He said, “It is true that our country is facing economic difficulty, but that will not justify jeopardizing or endangering the lives of our president, our vice president, other top government officials, and any citizen for that matter.


“We are all aware of the air mishaps in Iran and Malawi recently, which claimed the lives of the president and vice president of those countries, respectively. We commiserate with the people and governments of those countries. But we must also, as a people, do whatever is necessary to lower the possibility of such disasters in our country.


“No sacrifice is too much to pay for the safety of our leaders and citizens. We elected them. So, we have a collective responsibility to protect them at all times.”