Presidential Fleet Maintenance Costs Hit Over N14 Billion In 11 Months Under Tinubu

Presidential Fleet Maintenance Costs Hit Over N14 Billion In 11 Months Under Tinubu

The Federal Government, led by President Bola Tinubu, allocated a total of N14.77 billion for the repair and maintenance of Nigeria’s presidential air fleet over an 11-month period, according to a State House report.

The payments, executed in 11 separate tranches spanning from July 16, 2023, to May 25, 2024, were processed through the ‘Presidential Air Fleet Transit Funds’ account at the State House headquarters, a report by Sunday PUNCH said.

The allocation coincides with ongoing deliberations in the National Assembly regarding the acquisition of two new aircraft. This move comes after concerns were raised about the functionality of the President’s 19-year-old Boeing 737 and other aircraft in the fleet, which have experienced operational challenges.

A report from the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence highlighted the urgent need for additional aircraft, estimating the procurement cost at over $623.4 million or N918.7 billion. The committee stressed the critical importance of maintaining a reliable and safe fleet, crucial for the duties and security of the President and Vice President of Nigeria.

The condition of the presidential air fleet has sparked significant debate, despite substantial past expenditures by previous administrations. The current situation has led President Tinubu to occasionally charter private jets, while Vice President Shettima had to cancel international trips due to technical faults with official aircraft.

According to the Sunday PUNCH report, as of now, the Presidential Air Fleet consists of six main aircraft: a Boeing 737, Gulfstream G550, Gulfstream GV, two Falcon 7Xs, and a Challenger CL605, alongside six helicopters. During the tenure of former President Muhammadu Buhari, N62.47 billion was expended on the fleet’s operation and maintenance. However, pledges to reduce fleet size to cut governance costs were not fully realized, with allocations fluctuating over recent fiscal years.

GovSpend, a civic tech platform, confirmed that President Tinubu’s administration authorized the disbursement of N14.77 billion within a year of assuming office. This expenditure excludes costs related to the President’s and Vice President’s domestic and international travels.

Payments commenced with N1.52 billion approved in July 2023 for maintenance, followed by subsequent disbursements: N3.1 billion in August, N1.26 billion in November 2023, N2.54 billion in March 2024, N6.35 billion in April 2024, and N1.27 billion in May 2024.

Last Wednesday, SaharaReporters reported that President Tinubu departed Lagos for South Africa to attend the inauguration of the country’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa in a private jet belonging to his Lebanese ally, Gilbert Chagoury.

The Nigerian President arrived at Waterkloof Air Force Base on the outskirts of Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, on Tuesday evening.

Video and pictures released by the South African presidential media team showed Tinubu disembarked from a Dassault Falcon 8X aircraft.

However, SaharaReporters gathered that the private jet marked 9H-GRC was owned by Chagoury Group, a conglomerate owned by Gilbert Chagoury, a known business partner of the Nigerian President.

A further check by SaharaReporters on an aircraft registration database revealed that the private jet and others owned by the group are operated by Hyperion Aviation.

The Dassault Falcon 8X was first operated by Aviation SA before it was transferred to Amjet Executive.

The aircraft was also briefly registered under Chagoury Group for some days before its operation was moved to Hyperion Aviation.

Hyperion is an air charter company operating business jets, headquartered in Malta.

SaharaReporters had reported how a Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737-700) marked 5N-FGT owned by the Nigerian government incurred parking charges running into millions of Naira since it was transported to Germany on March 25 for repairs.

The amount accounted for the aircraft’s parking charges for over 80 days, at the rate of €5,000 (N8million) at the rate of N1613 to €1.

In April, the President was forced to travel to Saudi Arabia on a charter flight for the World Economic Forum in Riyadh from the Netherlands.

At the time, the President left Nigeria on a Gulfstream Aerospace GV-SP (G550) with registration number 5N-FGW and serial number 5310 (Mode-S 0640F2) because the Boeing 737-700 marked 5N-FGT was undergoing rehabilitation in Germany.

However, the second aircraft he was travelling on developed a fault in the Netherlands.

The Nigerian leader arrived in The Hague on April 23 from Nigeria for a series of economic and diplomatic engagements at the instance of Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

It was reported that the Nigerian President learnt shortly before he was scheduled to depart the Netherlands that his plane had suffered unspecified problems, one of which an official identified as including an oxygen leak.

The president and his delegation left the presidential aircraft behind and opted for a charter jet company to take them to Saudi Arabia for the forum.

The aircraft, a Gulfstream G550 class, was originally dedicated to Vice President, Kashim Shettima.

Source:- Saharareporters

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