Despite the harsh economic situation in the country, the Federal Government has reportedly spent the sum of N5bn on the 10-aircraft Presidential Air fleet since coming to power, a document obtained from the Presidency showed.
According to the document, the Presidency has so far spent N5bn since the inception of this administration in May 2015. The breakdown showed N2.3bn was released between May and November 2015 for PAF by the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.
Also, the figure includes personnel costs, overheads and capital expenditures, a total of N99.715m was spent on spares, maintenance and subscription services.
While the sum of N98.5m was spent on operations, a total of N165.373m was spent on training and N85.5m on personnel medicals and overheads.
The document also revealed that PAF spent N1.350bn to settle outstanding liabilities of the past administration, while N500m was refunded to the NSA for financial support rendered for the maintenance of the Fleet prior to release of funds.
According to industry experts, airlines spend between 15 and 20 percent of the cost of an aircraft on its operation yearly and a little less than one-fifth of the plane is spent every year on insurance, flight and cabin crew, maintenance, fuelling, catering and training.
Using a conservative percentage of 15 percent, it means that about $52.11m (N15.92bn) must have been spent on the PAF by May 29, 2016.
The General Secretary, Aviation Round Table, an industry pressure group, Group Captain John Ojikutu, said “It is high time the Presidency reduced the number of aircraft in that fleet. We can’t be spending our scarce forex to maintain a large fleet of 10 aircraft.”
Spending a N5bn on maintenance of 10 aircraft at a time when many states “cannot pay salaries and dozens of families going hungry across most parts of the country is insensitive and a hallmark of an anti-people regime,” said Mr. Debo Adeniran, Chairman Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders.
He said, “Spending that type of money on maintenance of aircraft is not the best at this time. It is profligacy, it is unnecessary and smacks of insensitivity on the part of the regime that is supposed to effect positive change in the lives of the people.”
“A few days ago the Federal Government launched the ‘Change begins with me’ campaign but I disagree with the government that because it is like shifting the goalpost to Nigerians. This administration has not shown us that it has good plans. All the policies that have been implemented so far – both fiscal and monetary – are anti-people. This is not the type of government that we yearned for.
“They criticised Goodluck Jonathan of keeping a large fleet of aircraft but they are also doing the same thing. I think Buhari is alone in his anti-corruption fight because most of his cabinet members have not been able to detach themselves from the lifestyle of the past regime.”
A former Governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said President Buhari administration “is as wasteful as the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.”
“They should sell off some of the jets in order to reduce wastage of our economic resources and also to demonstrate the change they are talking about,” he added.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Presidential Garba Shehu, hinted that there was a committee already deliberating on trimming the presidential fleet.
He made the revelation in a reaction to a tweet by blogger, Japheth Omojuwa, who asked why the Presidency has yet to reduce the 10 aircraft on its fleet.
“There is a government committee already in place, working to reduce the number of aircraft in the presidential fleet,” Shehu said.