Why Nigeria’s presidential jet is still in London – Presidency
The Presidency has said that the Presidential Aircraft which flew President Muhammadu Buhari to the United Kingdom (UK) on a medical follow-up since May 7 is still retained in that country for reasons of national security and prestige accorded world leaders when they travel abroad.
The clarification came Thursday amidst criticisms, mostly on social media, on the retention in London of the Presidential aircraft, NAF 001 manned by personnel of the Nigeria Airforce since President Buhari arrived that country.
A statement signed by Senior special assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu declared that there is no world leader who travels abroad and is left without plans for immediate return or possible evacuation.
The development, according to the Presidency, is in tandem with the standard operating procedure and international protocol around foreign trips by Heads of State all over the world.
The Presidency stated that the country’s Armed Forces as represented by the Nigeria Air Force cannot therefore abandon the Commander-in-Chief in whichever circumstance he is in that country.
“For the avoidance of doubt, this President is not the first to have a presidential aircraft standing by for him, as he will certainly not be the last. All past Heads of this country have had this privilege, and the part that surprises the most is that leaders who in the past travelled with three Nigerian aircraft did not suffer this trenchant criticism,” the Presidency noted.
The statement also debunked the claims about outrageous fees allegedly paid by Nigeria, saying that “the published amounts are totally untrue.”
Specifically, allegations have been rife that the Nigerian Presidential aircraft in London consumes £4,000 every day for the parking lot and it’s idleness.
However, the statement noted that “aircraft conveying heads of state all over the world usually enjoy waivers even where payments for parking are differentiated by aircraft categories.
“We have been assured that where the waiver is not granted, payment will not exceed £1,000, which is a quarter of the amount being peddled.”
The statement also appealed to Nigerians to ignore opposition campaign aimed at derailing the administration’s big plans for the country.
“This is a government that is constructing the Second Niger Bridge, the Mambila Power Plant, the East-West and the North-South standard gauge railway lines.
“We are a government that has saved this country an annual loss of two trillion Naira from fraudulent petroleum subsidy schemes by influential citizens and their children and rid the public service of about 50,000 ghost workers.
“The Buhari administration certainly deserves a chance,” the statement said.