Report: Under Tinubu, Presidential Fleet Maintenance Costs Hit Over N14Billion in 11 Months

Under Tinubu, Presidential Fleet Maintenance Costs Hit Over N14Billion in 11 Months

According to a State House report, the Federal Government, under the administration of Bola Tinubu, allocated N14.77 billion for the repair and maintenance of Nigeria’s presidential air fleet over an 11-month period.

The expenditures, distributed across 11 separate payments, were made between July 16, 2023, and May 25, 2024.

These transactions were processed through the ‘Presidential Air Fleet Transit Funds’ account at the State House headquarters, as reported by Sunday PUNCH.

The allocation comes amidst ongoing discussions in the National Assembly about acquiring two new aircraft. This decision follows concerns over the functionality of the President’s 19-year-old Boeing 737 and other fleet aircraft, which have faced operational issues.

A report from the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence underscored the urgent need for additional aircraft, estimating the cost at over $623.4 million (N918.7 billion).

The committee emphasized the importance of maintaining a reliable and safe fleet, essential for the duties and security of Bola Tinubu and Shettima.

The condition of the presidential air fleet has ignited significant debate, despite substantial past expenditures by previous administrations.

Due to the current situation, Tinubu has occasionally chartered private jets, while Shettima has had to cancel international trips because of technical faults with official aircraft.

According to a Sunday PUNCH report, the Presidential Air Fleet currently comprises six main aircraft: a Boeing 737, Gulfstream G550, Gulfstream GV, two Falcon 7Xs, and a Challenger CL605, in addition to six helicopters.

During former President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure, N62.47 billion was spent on the fleet’s operation and maintenance. Despite promises to reduce the fleet size to cut governance costs, these reductions were not fully achieved, with allocations varying over recent fiscal years.

GovSpend, a civic tech platform, confirmed that Tinubu’s administration authorized the disbursement of N14.77 billion within a year of taking office. This figure excludes expenses related to Tinubu’s and Shettima’s domestic and international travel.

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Payments began with N1.52 billion approved in July 2023 for maintenance, followed by N3.1 billion in August, N1.26 billion in November 2023, N2.54 billion in March 2024, N6.35 billion in April 2024, and N1.27 billion in May 2024.

Last Wednesday, SaharaReporters noted that Tinubu left Lagos for South Africa to attend the inauguration of President Cyril Ramaphosa in a private jet owned by his Lebanese ally, Gilbert Chagoury.

Tinubu arrived at Waterkloof Air Force Base near Pretoria on Tuesday evening. Photos and videos from the South African presidential media team showed him disembarking from a Dassault Falcon 8X aircraft.

However, SaharaReporters discovered that the private jet, marked 9H-GRC, is owned by Chagoury Group, a conglomerate led by Gilbert Chagoury, a known business associate of Tinubu. Further investigation revealed that this jet, along with others owned by the group, is operated by Hyperion Aviation.

The Dassault Falcon 8X was initially operated by Aviation SA before being transferred to Amjet Executive.

It was briefly registered under Chagoury Group for a few days before its operation was moved to Hyperion Aviation, an air charter company headquartered in Malta that operates business jets.

A previous report detailed how a Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737-700) marked 5N-FGT, owned by the Nigerian government, accrued parking charges amounting to millions of Naira since being transported to Germany on March 25 for repairs. The parking fees, over an 80-day period, totaled €5,000 (N8 million) per day, at an exchange rate of N1,613 to €1.

In April, Tinubu had to travel to Saudi Arabia on a charter flight for the World Economic Forum in Riyadh from the Netherlands. He initially departed Nigeria on a Gulfstream Aerospace GV-SP (G550) with registration number 5N-FGW and serial number 5310 (Mode-S 0640F2), as the Boeing 737-700 (5N-FGT) was undergoing repairs in Germany. However, the second aircraft developed a fault in the Netherlands.

Tinubu arrived in The Hague on April 23 for a series of economic and diplomatic engagements at the invitation of Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Shortly before his scheduled departure from the Netherlands, his plane encountered unspecified issues, including an oxygen leak.

As a result, Tinubu and his delegation left the presidential aircraft behind and opted for a charter jet to take them to Saudi Arabia for the forum. This chartered Gulfstream G550 class aircraft was originally designated for Kashim Shettima.

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