Reps disagree over Tinubu, Shettima’s use of chartered flights

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Some members of the House of Representatives have disagreed over the use of chartered flights by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima instead of the aircraft in the presidential fleet.

This followed the concerns raised in a motion of urgent public importance moved by Rep. Ahmed Satomi (APC, Borno) over the recurring use of chartered flights by Tinubu and Shettima as a result of faults with the aircraft in the fleet.

Presenting the motion, the lawmaker said, it was a great security risk for the presidential fleet to be having faulty aircraft that would compel the President and Vice President to opt for commercial flights.

According to him, the fleet is a vital component of running the nations day-to-day affairs by the duo as well as travelling for important national and international engagements.

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He said, “The report on various media platforms particularly Sahara Reporters of 28 April 2024 that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was forced to travel to Saudi Arabia on a Chattered flight for the World Economic Forum in Riyadh from the Netherlands where he had gone for a series of economic and diplomatic engagements because the presidential Jet developed fault in the Netherlands.

“Screaming news reports of May 6, 2024 by Business Day, Punch Newspapers, Thisday Newspapers etc that a faulty Presidential jet which occurred on Monday , 6” May, 2024 has aborted Vice President Kashim Shetima’s trip to the United States of America for the 2024 Us-africa Business Summit In Dallas Texas.

“This report was corroborated in the press release by Stanley Nwokocha — senior special Assistant to the President on Media and Communications, Office of the Vice President, stating that the Vice President Kashim Shetima who was originally scheduled to represent the president was unable to make the trip following a technical fault with the aircraft, forcing him to make a detour on the advice of the Presidential Air Fleet.

“These occurrences pose a clear present and imminent threat to the life of the President, the Vice President and other Very important Personalities who use the fleet from time to time”.

In his contribution, the House Leader, Professor Julius Ihonvbere (APC, Edo), reiterated the importance of having a presidential fleet that meets the needs of the nation by serving the leadership of the nation.

While contributing to the debate, the House Minority Leader, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) noted that while having the presidential fleet in a sound condition, he saw no wrong if the President or his vice flew commercial flights, adding that the UK Prime Minister flew British Airways.

He therefore argued that, Nigeria should not be an exception since it had failed to have a national carrier.

However, Rep. Sada Soli Jibia (APC, Katsina) informed that, the British Airways flown by the British prime minister were special flights.

Chinda however countered saying that, British Airways is a commercial entity with shareholders, not at the beck and call of the UK leaders.

He further noted that, the issue ought not to have been brought to the plenary since the House has a relevant committee to handle the issue.

After the contributions, the Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu, concurred saying that the motion be stepped down and the relevant committee commence the investigation which is covered by its mandate.

The mover of the motion, Rep. Satomi Ahmed, who is also the Chairman, House Committee on National Security and Intelligence, withdrew the motion and promised to work on the House’s directive on the matter.

The budget of the Presidential Air Fleet is under the Office of the National Security Adviser and billions are being appropriated annually by the National Assembly to take care of the fleet.

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