In what may be deemed as callousness on the part of the Nigerian government, the Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government, despite the recession hitting the country, has earmarked the outrageous sum of N2.38 billion in the 2017 National budget just for the maintenance of the presidential jets.
The reason for the national uproar at the amount is not far-fetched as the N2.4 billion represents a N390 million increase from the N1.99 billion approved in the 2016 budget of change when there were more jets to be maintained.
The Presidential fleet (PAF) – official air carrier of the Presidency, is made up of 10 aircraft which include: one Gulfstream 550 (the former Minister of Information, late Pro. Dora Akunyili, had said this had costs the Federal Government $53.3 million), one Gulfstream V (Gulfstream 500), two Falcons 7X ( purchased in 2010 by the Federal Government for $51.1 million each) Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737-800 or AirForce One), one Hawker Sidley 4000, two AgustaWestland AW 139 helicopters and two AgustaWestland AW 101 helicopters.
In the budget breakdown which was made available to our correspondent in Abuja, the presidency in the 2017 fiscal year is proposing to spend N900 m out of the N2.38bn on fueling of the aircraft in the presidential fleet. This again is by far greater than what was allotted (N478.6 million) for the same purpose in the 2016 fiscal period. The increase rate shows it is about 88%.
According to the Punch, there is also a provision of N850 million for maintenance of the aircraft. This amount is, however, N103.25 million lower than the N953.15 million allocated for aircraft maintenance in 2016.
In the same vein, the sum of N90 million would be spent in 2017 to purchase air navigational equipment. In the 2016 fiscal period, the sum of N262.4 million was budgeted for a similar purpose.
The Federal Government is also proposing to spend N93.95 million to purchase fire-fighting equipment for the presidential air fleet as against N7.9 million allocated for fire protection kits in 2016.