President Muhammadu Buhari and the delegation that recently travelled with him to the United States escaped an air mishap after the presidential jet marked 5N-FGT suddenly developed a fault while they were returning to Nigeria, SaharaReporters has gathered.
Buhari had on Sunday, September 19, 2021, travelled to New York for the 76th United Nations General Assembly.
Sources told SaharaReporters that the aircraft, a Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737-800) developed a fault while the President and his entourage were returning to Abuja on Saturday, September 25.
SaharaReporters gathered that the aircraft left the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York at 12:08 pm, landed at Sable Island Airport around 5:24 pm and had a 3-hour stopover.
The Nigeria Air Force 1 then departed the airport for Santa Maria, California where it landed around 9:10 pm. From Santa Maria, it flew to Nigeria and landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Sunday, September 26 at 5:01 am.
Sources said the aircraft was subsequently moved to Euro Airport in Germany on September 29 and arrived at 4.15pm after leaving the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport at 9.48am, with the Nigerian government paying €5,000 (Euros) (N2,385,000 at official rate of N477 to €1) per night as parking fee.
This means by Thursday, October 28, the Muhammadu Buhari-led government has paid €145,000 (N69,165,000) as parking fee for the aircraft.
To avoid backlash, SaharaReporters gathered that the registration of the 5N-FGT aircraft was done using AMACGND.
“The Presidential Boeing Business Jet registration number 5N-FGT developed a fault during his trip from New York. He travelled to Saudi Arabia with a smaller jet. A Falcon 7X jet with registration number 5N-FGV. No picture of his departure to Saudi Arabia was released to avoid the public knowing about the jet he travelled with,” a presidential source told SaharaReporters.
“The one that developed fault has been moved to EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg, Germany for repairs since September. It is registered and operated under another name AMACGND. They intentionally hid it and parked it under another name because it cost €5,000 (Euros) for parking per night.”
Despite promising to cut waste, the Buhari-led government has spent at least N41 billion on the presidential fleet.
After taking office on May 29, 2015, the 2016 Appropriation Act signed by the President allocated N3.652 billion for the upkeep of the presidential fleet.
In 2017, the cost of maintenance of the presidential aircraft rose to N4.37 billion (19.6 per cent). The figure then skyrocketed to N7.260 billion (98.7 per cent) in 2018.
In 2019, the cost of maintaining the PAF again rose to N7.297 billion (99.6 per cent). The allocation, however, fell to N6.793 billion (86 per cent) in 2020. But in 2021, the budget for the presidential fleet saw its sharpest Buhari-era jump to N12.550 billion (243.6 per cent).
By comparison, the 2015 budget, which was in effect upon Buhari’s inauguration, earmarked N5.190 billion for the presidential fleet. The appropriation for the Presidential Air Fleet in 2021 indicates a 243.6 per cent increase from the allocation six years prior.