President Muhammadu Buhari and the delegation that accompanied him to the United States recently avoided an air mishap when the presidential jet, designated 5N-FGT, developed a fault while returning to Nigeria.
Buhari travelled to New York for the 76th United Nations General Assembly on September 19, 2021.
The aircraft, a Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737-700), developed a fault, according to SaharaReporters, while the President and his entourage were returning to Abuja on Saturday, September 25.
According to SaharaReporters, the plane took off from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport at 12:08 p.m., landed at Sable Island Airport at 5:24 p.m., and had a 3-hour layover.
The Nigerian Air Force 1 then flew to Santa Maria, where it arrived around 9:10 p.m. It took off from Santa Maria and landed at Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport at 5:01 a.m. on Sunday, September 26.
According to sources, the plane was moved to Euro Airport in Germany on September 29 and arrived at 4.15 pm after leaving Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport at 9.48 am, with the Nigerian government paying a parking fee of €5,000 (Euros) per night (N2,385,000 at the official rate of N477 to €1).
This means that by Thursday, October 28, the Muhammadu Buhari-led government had paid the aircraft’s parking fee of €145,000 (N69,165,000).
To avoid backlash, SaharaReporters learned that the 5N-FGT aircraft was registered with AMACGND.
“During his flight from New York, the Presidential Boeing Business Jet, registration number 5N-FGT, developed a fault. He flew to Saudi Arabia in a smaller plane. 5N-FGV is the registration number for a Falcon 7X jet. A presidential source told SaharaReporters that no picture of his departure to Saudi Arabia was released to prevent the public from learning about the plane he flew on.
“Since September, the one that developed a fault has been relocated to EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg, Germany, for repairs. It is also known as AMACGND and is registered and operated under that name. They hid it and parked it under a different name on purpose because parking costs €5,000 (Euros) per night.”
On Saturday, October 23, the Falcon 7X jet with the registration number 5N-FGV was spotted near Ibadan, Oyo State at 6.31 pm and later at Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos at 6.55 pm, according to travel details.
It took off from MMIA at 7.58 p.m. and was last seen at 8.32 p.m. near Minna, Niger State.
It was first seen at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) in Abuja at 10.35 a.m. on Sunday, October 24, and then at MMIA at 11.25 a.m. on Monday, October 25.
It was back at NAIA by 1.05 p.m., and by 4.10 p.m., it was back in Lagos, where it was last seen at 5.00 p.m.
It was first seen near Jos, Plateau State, on Monday, October 25, and by 11.10 p.m. +03, it had arrived at Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid International Airport.
It took off from King Khalid International Airport at 3.19 p.m. +03 on Wednesday, October 27 and was last seen near Buraidah, Saudi Arabia, at 3.47 p.m. +03.
Then, at 11:03 p.m. +03, it was seen near Media, and then at 11.47 p.m. +03, it was seen near King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.
The Buhari-led government has spent at least N41 billion on the presidential fleet, despite promising to cut waste.
Following his inauguration on May 29, 2015, the President signed the 2016 Appropriation Act, allocating N3.652 billion for the maintenance of the presidential fleet.
The cost of maintaining the presidential aircraft increased to N4.37 billion in 2017. (19.6 per cent). In 2018, the figure soared to N7.260 billion (98.7% increase).
The cost of maintaining the PAF increased to N7.297 billion in 2019. (99.6 per cent). In 2020, however, the allocation was reduced to N6.793 billion (86%). However, in 2021, the presidential fleet budget increased by the most in the Buhari era, to N12.550 billion (243.6 per cent).
The presidential fleet was budgeted for N5.190 billion in the 2015 budget, which was in effect at the time of Buhari’s inauguration. The allocation for the Presidential Air Fleet in 2021 represents a 243.6 per cent increase over the six-year allocation.