The federal government of Nigeria has admitted to parking NAF 001 presidential jet in London for the past 50+ days of Buhari’s medical leave. At 50 days, this would be the second time this year Buhari has spent so many days in London with the plane parked in wait.
While presidential spokesman Garba Shehu denied the parking cost was as much as N80 million as lamented by Retiola (Retty) Susie who broke the viral news with a picture of the jet parked in the UK, the spokesman admitted that it could cost the public as much as N20 million so far. He gave the expected discounted rate if the UK agency does not agree to the FGN’s plea for bill forgiveness, as 1000 GBP/day and not the standard rate of 4000 GBP. This comes to about $70,000 so far lost. Enough to buy several bomb detector systems and acquire bomb sniffing dogs to deploy to the University of Maiduguri.
But the cost does not end at parking fees, but actually starts there.
Keeping NAF 001 comes at much higher cost to the tax payer. Along with the president, there are an entourage of about 89 official government employees from pilots to Engineers and aides and assistants.
With a daily estacode of $425 for senior staff and $385 for junior staff, all lodged in the Hilton Paddington (400 GBP/night) and other five-star hotels, we can estimate $35,600 daily cost on estacode: $400 x 89. We are hitting the $2 million mark for the 50 days thus far. This whopping amount of waste to keep the president in UK indefinitely with his jet parked as on official visit, can change the lives of the people dying of hunger in Borno. With a budget of just $400, ENDS’ AlmajiriProject this Eid fed 300 Almajiri kids with plastic bowls that double as utility containers, and also gave them 200 slippers and soap.
$2 million could feed the 300 Almajiri kids and buy them soap and slippers every day and much more for 13 straight years. $2 million could provide 1000 $2000 a piece classrooms across the entire northeast.
Depending on the inclusion of Hotel at 400GBP per night and retaining full or 1/3rd estacode, we hit a range of $3-4 million so far spent. And this does not include medical bills.
The Bogus Claims of The Presidency
Garba Shehu, whose reputation has been tarnished for promoted falsehoods about the president’s state of health, later debunked by the president himself; claimed it was routine for presidents to keep a “getaway” vehicle with them when they travelled abroad. This is quite untrue once again.
Tanzania’s phenomenal president John Magufuli is known for making journeys by road to save cost and not even flying when expected. And he has been flying the national carrier, “Air Tanzania” which he recently bought two more planes for in the interest of the state.
But the nation with Africa’s largest economy, South Africa itself shows a very different example than Garba Shehu sought to paint as routine. President Jacob Zuma recently travelled to the United States for the UN assembly 71st session, via a commercial flight in the nation’s national carrier, SAA to promote the airline.
There is no international “protocol” for presidents to keep a getaway vehicle when they travel not only on business but less so for indefinite medical leaves.
Bring The Plane Home
We implore on the cabal at the presidency to respect the plight of ordinary Nigerians who do not enjoy government salaries and perks elected officials and government employees do. Bring the aircraft home with the retinue of staff, with a load of cabal in it if it is to clean for the masses to sit in it. And get it to use locally while the president minds his business in UK with as few staff and family members including his beautiful and thoughtful wife, as necessary.
Finally, Buhari should be urged to resign to save him from calls for his impeachment as he did for late Yar’Adua.
May God deliver Buhari and Nigeria.
Dr. Perry Brimah; @EveryNigerian; AdvancedNigerian.com