Apparently heeding the mood of the nation in recession, the presidency has commenced moves to offload a number of aircraft in the Presidential air fleet.
In that direction, Saturday Vanguard learnt yesterday that a technical committee constituted by the office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA had been constituted to make recommendations on a suitable number of aircraft to be retained in the PAF.
he technical committee is to come up with a recommendation of a suitable size for the fleet which in time past had drawn criticisms from Nigerians for being unwieldy compared to the Nigerian economy and state of development. Presently, the fleet is composed of nine fixed wing aircraft and a number of helicopters. N5,190,381,386.00 was appropriated for the fleet in the 2015 budget.
Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu also revealed the plans to offload the presidential jets on twitter yesterday when he debunked criticism that President Muhammadu Buhari’s admonitions to Nigerians in his new ethics campaign was self serving. A Nigerian, J. J. Omojuwa responding to admonitions from Mr. Femi Adeshina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity to heed Buhari’s message to propel change from the inside had tweeted back thus: Change begins with selling the presidential jets. ONLY a genuinely rich country should think of having up to 3.
We have about 10 jets. Mallam Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant, SSA to the President on Media and Publicity immediately engaged him, saying that: There is a govt committee already in place, working to reduce the number of aircraft in the presidential fleet.
Shehu also followed the tweet within minutes with another tweet: Some aircraft will be boarded, some others returned to the Air Force for operations.
The Change is here. The move to streamline the Presidential Air Fleet would undoubtedly lessen criticisms against the All Progressives Congress, APC administration which had been recently flayed for seemingly backtracking on some of the promises of cutting waste in the affairs of governmenta.
A source told Saturday Vanguard that once the report of the technical committee is ready it would be submitted to the president for appropriate action. One of the expected recommendations is that the range of aircraft type in the fleet be narrowed down to cut down the cost of maintaining different brands of aircraft often in different parts of the world.
The fleet presently consists of a Boeing Business Jet, Gulfstream aircraft, Falcon, Hawker Series and Augusta brands of aircraft.