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Lawmakers say new aircraft ‘befitting the office of the President’ be purchased for Tinubu

The House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence has called on the federal government to quickly purchase new aircraft for President Bola Tinubu and his Vice, Kashim Shettima.

This was disclosed in a report by Premium Times which added that the lawmakers are of the opinion that the cost of maintaining the 19-year-old aircraft used by Tinubu is high.

PT said that the House of Reps Committee believes that the high cost of maintenance has led to longer aircraft downtime and higher fleet running costs.

According to PT, the lawmakers made the request in a report issued after its technical subcommittee conducted a hearing on the status and airworthiness of aircraft in the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF).

“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 technical/operational inadequacy of the Presidential Air Fleet, it is in the best interest of the country to procure two additional aircraft as recommended,” the report read.

“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.”

According to PREMIUM TIMES which exclusively obtained the report, signed by the Committee’s chairperson, Ahmed Satomi, and clerk, Makwe Eric, some lawmakers said the document has since been forwarded to the presidency for immediate action.

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

In addition, PT said 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,” the report read.

“Also, the Gulfstream GV is 23 years old and currently unserviceable. One of the Falcon 7Xs is serviceable, while the other is not.

“The Challenger CL605 is 12 years old and serviceable. The Agusta 139 helicopters, classified as unserviceable, are 17 and 18 years old, respectively.”

The committee also constituted a five-member panel to liaise with ONSA to determine the status and airworthiness of all aircraft in the PAF. The panel completed its assignment on 4 June, issuing a report that strongly argued for the replacement of the aircraft currently being used by Tinubu and his deputy.

The Committee reportedly 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,” it 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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