Aviation Expert Faults NASS Move to Approve Purchase of New Presidential Fleets: “It’s Wasteful”

  • Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd) has criticized the National Assembly’s decision to approve the purchase of new presidential aircraft
  • The House Committee on National Security and Intelligence recommended acquiring new aircraft for the president and vice president
  • However, Ojikutu, an aviation expert, said the fleet size should be reduced to three aircraft, suggesting the current large fleet promotes wasteful spending

FCT, Abuja – In a recent development, aviation experts have expressed strong disapproval of the National Assembly’s (NASS) decision to purchase new presidential fleets, given the country’s current economic challenges.

The experts who spoke with TheTalk.NG argued that this move is both wasteful and insensitive, given the current economic challenges facing the country.

Aviation expert, Ojikutu and president Bola TinubuAviation expert, Ojikutu and president Bola Tinubu
Photo credit: Picture Alliance/ John OjikutuSource: UGC

Recall that the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence recently urged the federal government to promptly acquire new aircraft for President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima.

This recommendation was made in a report released after the committee’s technical subcommittee assessed the status and airworthiness of the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF).

What did the report say?

The report detailed that the presidential fleet consists of six aircraft: a Boeing 737, a Gulfstream G550, a Gulfstream GV, two Falcon 7Xs, and a Challenger CL605. At the time of the committee’s hearing, three of these aircraft were non-operational.

It further states:

“The Committee strongly believes that, given the fragile structure of the Nigerian federation and the serious consequences of any potential mishap due to technical or operational inadequacies of the Presidential Air Fleet, it is in the country’s best interest to procure two additional aircraft as recommended.

“This measure will also be cost-efficient in the long term, besides offering a suitable, comfortable, and safe means of transport that befits the status and responsibilities of the offices of the President and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The Committee recommended that maintaining older aircraft is costly, resulting in extended downtime and higher operational expenses for the fleet. Consequently, it suggests that purchasing new aircraft for the nation’s top leaders would be the most cost-effective solution.

Expert speaks

Chief Executive Officer of Centurion Aviation Security and Safety Consult, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), criticized the proposal, arguing that the existing aircraft are still serviceable.

Ojikutu said:

“These aircraft were bought during the tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo, about twenty-four years ago. It’s not about the age or hours flown but adherence to periodic maintenance whether flying or not. Most of these aircraft do not have as many hours in ten years as commercial airlines’ aircraft.”

Current fleet size

Ojikutu highlighted the excessive size of the current fleet, which includes ten aircraft.

He said:

“Ten aircraft in the Presidential Fleet is a waste and a room for institutional corruption. I remember well during the IBB era, Nigeria Airways would quickly convert its B737 into a Presidential Plane for any of his journeys within and outside the country.”

Ojikutu: Could have a political undertone

Ojikutu also pointed out the political motivations behind maintaining such a large fleet, saying:

“When these aircraft were bought, they planned them to include the National Assembly (NASS) Heads, and that is why you hear the NASS members supporting the Presidential moves to buy rather than cost the repairs. When Buhari wanted to reduce the number, there was noise, as we are hearing now, and nothing came out of it.”

Calls for reduction of current number of presidential fleets

Advocating for a significant reduction in the fleet size, Ojikutu proposed that it should be limited to three aircraft.

He advised:

“To get out of the wasteful spending, the fleet must be reduced to three. The NASS members should arrange their movement with any designated Flag Carrier. Some presidents fly in their national or Flag Carriers.”

Tinubu’s govt puts 3 presidential aircraft up for sale

Earlier, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led federal government put three ageing presidential jets on sale.

It is gathered that the sale will cut excessive spending on the maintenance of fleets of presidential jets.

Source: TheTalk.NG

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