The investigation by the Punch shows that President Muhammadu Buhari spent a lot of money flying presidential jets.
Buhari’s government may have spent about N5.8bn on the 10-aircraft presidential air fleet it received from the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan.
The calculations done from estimated information received from government owned aviation agencies and domestic airline operators in the country, federal government will have spent about $58.58m (N11.598bn) on holding and using the 10-aircraft presidential fleet by May 29 next year when Buhari will mark one year as president.
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It means that the half of this amount of money, $29.29m (N5.799bn), is due to have been spent in principle on the large fleet when government turns six months in office by November 29.
The presidential fleet reportedly includes two Falcon 7X jets, two Falcon 900 jets, one Gulfstream 550, one Boeing 737 BBJ (Nigerian Air Force 001 or Eagle One), and Gulfstream IVSP.
Others are one Gulfstream V, Cessna Citation 2 and Hawker Siddley 125-800 jet.
Each of the two Falcon 7X jets were bought in 2010 by the government for $51.1m, while the Gulfstream 550 costs $53.3m, according to a former Minister of Information, the late Professor, Dora Akunyili.
Inside Boeing 737 Business Jet in luxurious configuration.
Evidently, by November 29 when it turns six months in office, about half of this amount ($29.29m or N5.799bn) should have been fund for the running and care of the planes.
The Nigerian Air Force’s site says that the PAF’s actual personnel strength consists of 47 NAF officers, 173 airmen/airwomen and 96 technical and administrative civilians.
“The operational headquarters of the fleet is located at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, while the administrative personnel are at the federal secretariat. The fleet has a liaison office at the Presidential Villa. Flight operations, training, aircraft maintenance and general running of the fleet are funded by the Presidency,” it says.
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Nigeria seems to be one of few countries of the world with a large presidential fleet.
For exmple, the Queen of England and the Prime Minister, David Cameron, often go on British Airways hired flights for long trips.
A few weeks after his swearing-in, President Buhari had reportedly directed the direct disposal of some of the aircraft in the PAF.
Meanwhile, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesperson, later denied knowledge of such directive.
The exact size of the presidential fleet is treated as classified information and aviation sources consider the aircraft in the fleet is about 16.
Head of the planes in the fleet is the Boeing 738 BBJ, NAF 001 or Eagle One, used President Buhari for his trips.
Eagle One can spend 12 hours in the air, covering 11,489 kilomtres or 6,200 nautical miles. Apart from the Eagle One, the fleet boasts of Gulfstream 550 jet.
There are speculations that the president may also direct the sale of about 25 aircraft owned by ministries, departments and agencies.
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