CACOL, CDHR Knock FG for Parking Buhari’s Jet in UK
Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership and the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights — have knocked the Presidency for parking the presidential aircraft in London since May 10, saying the action was “an unnecessary expenditure and display of affluence.”
The CACOL Director, Debo Adeniran, said Nigeria while finding its way out of recession could not afford such “profligacy, using our hard-earned foreign exchange to maintain the aircraft for nothing.”
He said, “It is an unnecessary expenditure. The aircraft should have been returned to Nigeria. We have canvassed even during the previous regimes that aircraft in the presidential fleet not in official use should be hired out in order to generate revenue. We should not spend our hard-earned foreign exchange to maintain this aircraft for nothing.
“It is double economic jeopardy. The whole world is watching us that a country, which is writhing under economic recession, is wasting a source of revenue. It is uncalled for and an unnecessary display of affluence. We may not blame the President, but his aircraft handlers should be held responsible for this waste.”
Also, the CDHR President, Malachy Ugwummadu, said, “It is another wrong judgment for the government to say we merely parked it. Since there is no emergency as to the President’s return, if the President needs the aircraft, the managers of the presidential fleet could take appropriate steps and bring him back.
“To now justify the continuous keeping of the aircraft in London does not augur well. The law is that once the President transmits the notice of his absence from office, his powers, privileges including the presidential aircraft automatically become vested in the Vice-President in that acting capacity.”
But the Presidency has said the retention of the presidential aircraft, NAF 001, in London where President Muhammadu Buhari is currently receiving medical attention is borne out of protocol, national security, diplomacy and prestige.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in a statement in Abuja on Thursday.
Shehu was reacting to recent reports especially on the social media over an outrageous fee allegedly being paid for parking the aircraft in London since May 10 when Buhari embarked on his second medical vacation for the year.
Shehu said, “The Presidency is constrained to decry criticisms, mostly on the 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 Nigerian Air Force are not to abandon their Commander-in-Chief in whichever circumstance he is. This is a standard operating procedure.”
The presidential spokesman also debunked the parking fees being reported, saying presidential aircraft enjoy waivers worldwide.
Shehu added that where waiver was not granted, such fees would not exceed £1,000.
He urged Nigerians to discard the report which he claimed emanated from the camp of the opposition.
Culled from Punch Newspaper