MOTTO: DIALOGUE, NOT VIOLENCE

14th June, 2024

PRESS RELEASE:

SELL OLD PRESIDENTIAL JETS, BUY NEW – MURIC

 

As Nigeria’s presidential jets continue to show signs of old age, a faith-based human rights advocacy group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has advised the Federal Government (FG), to sell off the old jets and buy brand new ones to avoid tragedy. MURIC’s advice came on the heels of the move by the National Assembly (NASS) to buy new aircrafts for the president and the vice president.

 

MURIC’s advice was given by the Executive Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola. His contribution came in the evening of Friday, 14th June, 2024.

 

He said:

 

“The performance of the presidential jets in recent times has given us serious concern. This explains why we jumped at the idea moved by the National Assembly (NASS) to buy new aircrafts for the presidency. We strongly support the suggestion coming from the NASS because it is not only reasonable but sine qua non. No rational Nigerian can oppose it.

 

“Our advice is that all old jets in the fleet should be sold and some money should be added to buy new jets. We see our suggestion as complementary to the move made by the NASS. (https://www.naijanews.com/2024/06/13/national-assembly-moves-to-buy-new-presidential-aircrafts-for-tinubu-shettima/).

 

 

“Nigeria’s presidential jets are showing signs of old age. These signs call for concern as the planes develop faults from time to time. The safety of our leaders must matter to reasonable people because when the chicken perches on a rope, neither the chicken nor the rope will remain stable. Some Nigerians may find the fear we express here frivolous but it is always better to err on the side of caution.

 

“For example, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had to continue his journey on a commercial plane very recently after two presidential jets broke down simultaneously (https://gazettengr.com/exclusive-tinubu-forced-to-fly-commercial-to-saudi-arabia-from-netherlands-as-two-presidential-jets-break-down-at-once/).

 

“Also on 7th May, 2024, Vice President Kazim Shettima had to shelve a trip to the United States for the US-Africa Business Summit when the presidential jet developed a fault one hour after take-off (https://punchng.com/shettima-shelves-us-trip-as-presidential-jet-develops-fault-midair/). These are scary narratives.

 

“One of the jets that has been taking President Bola Ahmed Tinubu across the wide Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific and the Red Sea is twenty years old. This is a humongous risk. We must avoid anything capable of throwing the nation into turbulence.

 

“To date, none of the planes in the presidential fleet, the Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737-800 or NAF 001), the one Gulfstream 550, one Gulfstream V, two Falcons 7X, one Hawker Sidley 4000, two Agusta Westland AW 139 helicopters and two AgustaWestland AW 101 helicopters is less than ten years old.

 

“This is not good enough. We are not taking enough caution. About ten world leaders are known to have died in plane crashes. Ebrahim Raisi of Iran who died two weeks ago in May 2024 is the latest victim. Across history, nations that gambled with the life of their presidents pay high prices.

 

“That was what happened when Samora Machel died in a plane crash in 1986. The Mozambiqan revolution suffered a hiccup. The death of Ramon Magsaysay, the seventh president of the Philippines in a plane crash which occurred on Mount Manunggal in 1957 left a deep divide between communists and democrats in Phillipine.  

 

“The cause of the crash of the aircraft conveying General Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan in 1988 remained controversial for a long time with speculation about mechanical failure, sabotage and conspiracy theories. Pakistan has not known peace since then. Can Nigeria take that chance in our present situation of mutual suspicion?

 

“Just four days ago, on Monday, 10th June, Saulos Chilima, the vice president of Malawi, died in a plane crash along with nine other people (https://www.premiumtimesng.com/foreign/africa/702888-malawi-vice-president-dies-in-plane-crash.html). The incident is too close for its lesson to be lost on all of us. Nigeria must change old presidential planes that develop fault one hour into airbourne to brand new aircrafts.

 

“What MURIC wishes to suggest is that all the old aircrafts in the presidential fleet should be put to sale while steps are taken to replace them with brand new ones. We cannot afford to be pennywise but pound foolish.

 

“According to the Aircraft Bluebook’s Winter 2023 data, a brand-new Large Jet direct from the OEM costs between $25 million (2023-model Bombardier Challenger 650) and approximately $80 million (2023-model Gulfstream G700), (https://usd.currencyrate.today/convert/amount-80000000-to-ngn.html

https://www.avbuyer.com/aircraft/private-jets/). $80 million is approximately one hundred and eighteen billion, nine hundred and sixty million naira. This is worth it compared to the tremendous calamity we would have avoided.

 

“These prices may appear humongous and prone to criticism by doubting Thomases. But the burden is bound to be reduced after we might have sold all the old aircrafts in the presidential fleet. We are not insensitive to the state of the Nigerian economy but we have to face reality. Afterall we did not elect our leaders for the purpose of making them cavia porcellus.

 

“It is gratifying to note that already the House of Representatives Committee on National Security has shown interest in the issue of faulty planes in the presidential fleet. The committee met the commander of the presidential fleet recently (https://www.thecable.ng/reps-panel-meets-commander-of-presidential-air-fleet-over-faulty-aircraft/) and moves are being made to buy new planes.

 

“We advise the committee to work closely with the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. We further advise that the old jets should not be used by the presidency. Both the president and his vice should suspend all foreign trips with their present aircrafts until new jets are procured for them.”

 

#SafePresidencySaferCitizens

 

Professor Ishaq Akintola,

Founder/Executive Director,

Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC).

 

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