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House Committee Urges Immediate Purchase of New Aircraft for Nigerian President and Vice President

House committee urges immediate purchase of new aircraft for Tinubu
House committee urges immediate purchase of new aircraft for Tinubu

The House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence has called on the federal government to urgently acquire new aircraft for President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima.

This recommendation comes following a technical subcommittee hearing on the current status and airworthiness of the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF).

In their report, the Committee emphasized the importance of maintaining a reliable and secure presidential fleet, citing the fragile structure of Nigeria and the severe consequences that could arise from any operational failures.

“Considering the dire consequences of any unforeseen mishap due to technical or operational inadequacies, it is in the best interest of the country to procure two additional aircraft as recommended,” the report stated.

It added that this move would be cost-efficient in the long term while providing a suitable and safe mode of transport for the nation’s top officials.

The report, signed by Committee Chair Ahmed Satomi and Clerk Makwe Eric, has been forwarded to the presidency for action.

According to the report, the current presidential fleet includes six aircraft: a Boeing 737, a Gulfstream G550, a Gulfstream GV, two Falcon 7Xs, and a Challenger CL605. Of these, three aircraft were unserviceable at the time of the hearing. Additionally, the fleet has six helicopters, with two Agusta 139s and four Agusta 189s, of which the Agusta 139s are unserviceable.

The president’s 19-year-old Boeing 737 is currently undergoing maintenance, while the vice president’s 13-year-old Gulfstream G550 is operational. The 23-year-old Gulfstream GV and one Falcon 7X are unserviceable, whereas the Challenger CL605 and the other Falcon 7X are serviceable. The unserviceable Agusta 139 helicopters are 17 and 18 years old.

The Committee highlighted the high maintenance costs associated with aging aircraft, which lead to longer downtimes and increased running costs. They concluded that acquiring new aircraft for the president and vice president is the best option.

Former President Muhammadu Buhari had pledged to reduce the number of planes in the fleet, but instead, the government’s expenditure on maintaining the fleet increased by 190% between 2016 and 2020. By 2022, maintenance costs ranged from $1.5 million to $4.5 million per plane.

The push for new aircraft gained momentum after a March 23 incident where the president’s plane malfunctioned during a trip to the Netherlands, and the vice president had to cancel a U.S. trip due to aircraft issues. Opposition lawmakers opposed the motion for new aircraft, but the Deputy Speaker, Ben Kalu, directed the Committee to use its discretion to investigate the fleet’s status.

Following an investigative hearing on May 20, where officials from the Office of the National Security Adviser and the Presidential Air Fleet provided briefings, the Committee resolved that ensuring the safety of the president and other VIPs should be a priority.

The Committee formed a five-member panel to assess the fleet’s airworthiness, which concluded on June 4 with a recommendation for new aircraft.

The panel suggested that a new aircraft similar to the USA’s Air Force Two should be procured for the vice president, which could also serve other top officials as needed. The Committee’s recommendations have been submitted to the presidency for necessary action.

This Article is Fact-Checked. See Policy.

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