Buhari Needs Presidential Jet On Standby In London For Prestige – Presidency
Following the criticisms that trailed continued retention of the Presidential Aircraft, NAF 001, in London where President Muhammadu Buhari is currently undergoing medical treatment, the presidency has said the action was taken for prestige, diplomacy and in the interest of national security.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement made available to reporters today in Abuja.
The Presidential spokesman was ostensible reacting to recent reports that went viral on the social media alleging that Nigeria is paying fortunes daily as parking fee for presidential aircraft in London since May 10 when Buhari left for the United Kingdom.
Shehu said the practice was not peculiar to Nigeria alone stressing that no world leader travels abroad and is left without plans for immediate return or possible evacuation.
The statement read, “The Presidency is constrained to decry criticisms, mostly on social media, on the retention in London of the Presidential Aircraft, NAF 001 as mostly informed by lack of understanding of protocol around foreign trips by Heads of State all over the world.
“It is important to state that for reasons of protocol, national security, diplomacy and prestige, there is no world leader who travels abroad and is left without plans for immediate return or possible evacuation.
“From operational point of view, this country’s Armed Forces as represented by the Nigeria Air Force are not to abandon their Commander-In-Chief in whichever circumstance he is. This is a standard operating procedure.”
On the alleged outrageous parking fee the aircraft is accruing, Shehu said where a waiver is not granted, such fees do not exceed £1,000.
He however posted the achievements of the Buhari administration as commendable.
He said, “We have also read claims about outrageous fees allegedly paid by Nigeria. The published amounts are totally untrue. 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.
“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.
“We appeal to Nigerians to ignore opposition campaign aimed at derailing this 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.”