BY AMOS DUNIA, ABUJA – The Presidency on Thursday said that retention of the Presidential Aircraft, NAF 001 in London, is for reason of protocol, national security, diplomacy and prestige.
The Presidency, which was reacting to criticisms mostly in the social media with regards to the parked Presidential Aircraft, said there is no world leader who travels abroad and is left without plans for immediate return or possible evacuation.
It noted that such criticisms are mostly informed by lack of understanding of protocol around foreign trips by Heads of State all over the world.
These were contained in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, who further explained that from operational point of view, the country’s Armed Forces as represented by the Nigeria Air Force are not to abandon their Commander-In-Chief in whichever circumstance he is, stressing that; “this is a standard operating procedure.”
Shehu further 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 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.”
He appeal to Nigerians to ignore opposition campaign aimed at derailing this administration’s big plans for the country, adding that 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.
Shehu further said; “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.”