Presidential Jets: Aviation Expert Hails Buhari | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Presidential Jets: Aviation Expert Hails Buhari

Posted: Jun 20, 2015 at 10:16 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Abel Orukpe – Lagos


A stakeholder in the aviation sector has hailed the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to sell nine out of the about 14 aircraft in the Presidential fleet, saying the jets should have been sold long ago.

Speaking on the directive by the president, the Chief Executive Officer of Centurion Securities, Grp Capt John Ojikutu (rtd), said that the move was a welcome development

The decision is coming just as Nigerians are calling for a reduction in the cost of maintaining the fleet which is presently put at N12 billion a year.

It is also coming on the heels of agitation by state governments for a bailout from the Federal Government due to the inability of many of the states to pay workers salaries.

The Presidential Fleet is alleged to have between 12 and 14 different brand of airplanes and they include Boeing Business Jet BBJ 738 aircraft with the name NAF 001 or Eagle used by the president.

Other airplanes reportedly in the fleet are Gulfstream 550 jets, Dassault Falcon 7X jets, one Hawker Siddeley 125-800 and one Cessna 550 Citation II, one Beechcraft King Air B200, and three Augusta Westland AW139 helicopters and others.

Ojikutu added that in his opinion, the Presidential Fleet should not have more than three aircraft in its fleet, explaining that one of the three should be for the president, one for the Vice President and the third one should be on standby.

According to him, “I don’t expect anything less from the Buhari I know .The decision to sell some of the aircraft is a well articulated de4cision. It should have been done long ago. We should not have more than three aircraft in the Presidential Fleet”

He stated that Nigeria’s president was not more important than the Queen of England and the Pope, who according to him still board British Airways and Alitalia respectively.

He said that the Federal Government had been very wasteful in its spending, adding that very soon hammer would fall on private airline operators, who are also not prudent in their spending.

The Chief Executive Officer posited that Buhari would one day board any of the commercial airlines to see things himself and that presently most of the airlines are indebted to aviation agencies but that they have refused to pay their debts.

“For me I don’t expect anything less from the Buhari. The big hammer is coming and when it comes, it will fall on private airlines,” he said.

He stated that some time ago the Federal Government provided intervention fund for airlines, adding that the airlines that accessed the fund could not point to what they did with the money while one was alleged to have diverted the fund for other purposes.

In his words, “Government has been very reckless with our money and that is why it cannot pay the contractor handling the Lagos –Ibadan Expressway N3billion to expand the busiest road in the country.”