Reports have revealed how over ninety billion Naira (N90 Billion) was earmarked in the past nine years for the presidential presidential air fleet.
The reported figure includes the allocation of substantial funds by the Federal Government under former President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration and the incumbent administration led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Vox9ja reports that the consistent increase in budgetary allocations in the country has raised eyebrows, and concerned citizens have had to ask about the government’s financial priorities and the responsible utilization of public funds.
During the first tenure of former President Muhammadu Buhari, a sum of N20.42 billion was designated for the presidential fleets, which surprisingly doubled in his subsequent term, amounting to N41 billion.
Recently, President Tinubu presented the supplementary budget proposal for 2023 to the House of Representatives. Notably, the Presidential Air Fleet, situated within the Office of the National Security Adviser section, is slated to receive a budget allocation of N12.7 billion.
Combined with the previously allocated N13 billion in the approved budget, the total budget allocation for the Presidential Air Fleet amounts to N25.7 billion.
The allocation of resources has triggered a significant nationwide discourse on their importance, leading to increased demands for transparency and accountability in their utilization.
Nigeria’s presidential air fleet, commonly known as Nigeria Air Force One, is composed of a variety of aircraft, such as Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) 737, Gulfstream G550, Gulfstream G500, two Falcon 7X, HS 4000, two Agusta 139, and two Agusta 101.
Cost Of Governance: What Buhari Promised
Vox9ja recalls that Buhari had, in 2015, pledged to reduce the cost of governance and even planned to sell two luxury aircraft, a Dassault Falcon 7x executive jet and a Beechcraft Hawker 4000 business jet.
According to Vanguard, the sale process encountered challenges as preferred bidders initially agreed to a projected sales figure of $24 million but later sought to renegotiate at $11 million.
Furthermore, the Hawker 4000 aircraft was announced for sale in September 2020, although its actual sale by the Presidency is still pending confirmation.
It is worth noting that the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retired) delivered two AgustaWestland AW101 VIP helicopters from the presidential fleet to the Air Force.
Regarding budget allocations, there has been fluctuation over the years. In 2016, N3.65 billion was allocated for the Presidential Air Fleet, with subsequent increases in 2017, 2018, and 2019, reaching N4.37 billion, N7.26 billion, and N7.30 billion, respectively. However, in 2020, there was a slight drop of N503.75 million when N6.79 billion was budgeted due to the global lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, significantly impacting flight operations.
In the two years following the pandemic, the allocation surged, rising to N12.55 billion and N12.48 billion for the 2021 and 2022 fiscal budgets, respectively.
Aviation Is Key But We Must Avoid Abuse – Expert
In response to the recent developments, the President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Nigeria and former CEO of Associated Airlines, Alex Nwuba, acknowledged the challenges faced by the economy, including a 50% depreciation of the naira, inflation exceeding 30%, and rising unemployment rates.
He said: “We can at least expect a doubling of the budget as illustrated.
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“Aviation is a key governance tool, but in tight economic times, we need to tighten our belts and avoid abuse like unauthorized use of public assets.”
© 2023 Vox9ja, a division of Polance Media Inc.