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Nigeria puts up three presidential aircraft for sale

The federal government is selling three ageing presidential jets to reduce excessive spending on fleet maintenance, according to TheCable. 

This decision follows the recommendation from the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence, which advised purchasing two new aircraft for the president and vice president. Shehu Buba Umar, chairman of the Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence, also supports this recommendation.

Selling the three aircraft will halve the current presidential air fleet, which currently includes six airplanes and four helicopters. The fleet, managed by the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) under the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), includes a Boeing 737 Boeing Business Jet (BBJ), a Gulfstream G550, a Gulfstream GV, two Falcon 7x, and one Challenger CL605.

Insiders revealed that at least half of the fleet comprises unserviceable or failing aircraft, prompting the need to dispose of those that are more burdensome. The jets marked for sale are the president’s designated Boeing 737 BBJ, one Gulfstream, and a Falcon 7x.

The government has appointed US-based airline marketer JetHQ as the broker for the sale. An exclusive marketing agreement has been signed, allowing JetHQ to value and market the aircraft. Proceeds from the sale will be used to procure a new jet for the fleet, with an ongoing search for a cost-effective option.

“We noted the lawmakers’ report and recommendation. However, we cannot afford to buy two aircraft simultaneously, even with the sales. The approval now is to find one affordable jet, supplementing with the sale proceeds,” a senior fleet management official said.

It was also gathered that JetHQ has submitted three bids from buyers to the NSA for consideration. “We received two offers for the BBJ and one for the Falcon X. However, the NSA insists on pressing for a better deal rather than rushing into a bad one,” a PAF official involved in the process stated anonymously.

Zakari Mijinyawa, a spokesman for the NSA, confirmed the ongoing disposal process without providing further details.

The condition of the presidential air fleet has been a recent topic of concern, with safety issues raised about the aircraft transporting Nigerian leaders. The president’s BBJ has been under maintenance since March, necessitating the use of other fleet aircraft.

In April, President Bola Tinubu had to use a commercial aircraft to attend the World Economic Forum in Riyadh after the plane he traveled with to the Netherlands developed a fault.

Around the same period, Vice-President Kashim Shettima was seen arriving in Ogun State in a chartered aircraft. In early May, Shettima aborted his trip to the United States mid-air due to an engine fault in the aircraft transporting him.

For his recent trip to South Africa, Tinubu had to use a private airplane, a situation some diplomatic experts believe could negatively affect Nigeria’s image on the global stage.

While federal lawmakers and some Nigerians support purchasing new aircraft to address these issues, others argue that it would be insensitive given the current economic hardship. However, lawmakers emphasize that the safety of all citizens, including the president and other government officials, should be a top priority for all Nigerians.

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