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Nigerian lawmakers demand urgent acquisition of new aircraft for Tinubu, Shettima

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Despite the bitting condition of the economy, the House of Representatives committee on national security and intelligence has urged the federal government to urgently purchase new aircraft for President Bola Tinubu and his Vice, Kashim Shettima.

The Committee made the call in a report released after its investigation into the condition of the aircraft in the presidential air fleet.

“The committee is of the strong and informed opinion that, considering the fragile structure of the Nigerian federation and recognising the dire consequences of any foreseen or unforeseen mishap that may arise as a result of the technical or operational inadequacy of the presidential air fleet, it is in the best interest of the country to procure two additional aircraft as recommended

“This will also prove to be most cost-efficient in the long run, apart from the added advantage of providing a suitable, comfortable, and safe carrier befitting of the status and responsibilities of the office of the president and vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” the report reads.

Recall that in May, the House of Representatives charged the committee to carry out a holistic investigation into the aircraft in the presidential fleet to determine their airworthiness and technical status.

The House resolution was sequel to a motion sponsored by Satomi Ahmed, chairman of the House committee.

There was a heated debate on the floor of House when the motion was moved. Some lawmakers argued that the president should travel via commercial aircraft or by road.

Ahmed’s motion followed reports of faulty aircraft in the presidential air fleet, which forced the president to use a chartered plane from the Netherlands to Saudi Arabia during his recent trip abroad.

Also Shettima had cancelled his trip to the United States due to a fault with his aircraft

Meanwhile, in the report which was signed by the Committee’s chairperson, Ahmed Satomi, and clerk, Makwe Eric, some lawmakers said the document has since been transmitted to the presidency for appropriate action.

The presidential fleet according to the report, has six aircraft: one Boeing 737, a Gulfstream G550, a Gulfstream GV, two Falcon 7Xs, and a Challenger CL605. The committee said three of the aircraft were unserviceable as of the time it conducted its hearing.

In addition, the fleet has six helicopters: two Agusta 139s and four Agusta 189s. The committee, quoting the Commander of the Presidential Air Fleet, Olayinka Oyesola, an Air Vice Marshal, said the two Agusta 139s are currently unserviceable.

The committee states that the president’s 19-year-old Boeing 737 is unserviceable and currently undergoing annual maintenance. Conversely, the vice president’s 13-year-old Gulfstream G550 is in good condition.

However, the committee said a new aircraft “befitting the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should be procured, taking into consideration the country’s leading role in the West African, African, and global scheme of affairs.”

“That for ease of administration and in order to guarantee a secure and dedicated main and backup fleet for the office of the president at all times, it is recommended that a new aircraft akin to Air Force Two of the USA be procured for the office of the vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the subcommittee added. “This can also serve the office of the presiding officers of the National Assembly, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, etc., as appropriate.”

 

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