HURIWA Calls for Transparency, Openness in Selling Off Three Presidential Jets.

Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called for openness and transparency in the process of selling off three out of the ten jets/helicopters in the Nigerian Presidential fleet.

Applauding the decision by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to sell off the national assets, the group demanded that the move should not be a game-plan to pass on the national assets to a ‘privileged family’ for political patronage.

In a media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA said the process of selling off the three jets must be handled by a tested and trusted business entity and there should be proper accountability regarding the proceeds from the sale of the three aircrafts.

“It is appropriate that the presidency has finally authorised the selling off of some of the ten jets/helicopters in the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) as a way to reduce the high costs of maintenance. Our main concern is that just like most governors do when they are in offices, they sell off government assets to themselves, their family members and their cronies at give-away prices to shortchange their people, we hope the president will ensure that these three jets are simply not sold at ‘bend-down-select’ prices to their family members, sons-in-law or cronies and therefore short-changing the good people of Nigeria of their hard-earned and highly prized national assets. We are tasking the office of the National Security Adviser to the President to follow the principles of transparency, accountability and openness. We urge the government to ensure open, competitive bidding process devoid of insider abuses and this should be observed by accredited and credible civil rights organisations.”

According to The Nation, the PAF, which currently comprised six jets and four helicopters, is set to undergo downsizing measures, potentially reducing the fleet to seven aircraft pending approval.

“Previous attempts to sell off two aircraft during President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration faced hurdles, with potential buyers initially offering $24 million for a Dassault Falcon 7x executive jet and a Beechcraft Hawker 4000 business jet. However, the reduced bid of $11 million was rejected by the government at the time.

“As part of efforts to generate revenue and alleviate maintenance costs, some aircraft were considered for charter services to interested governors, though the specifics of this arrangement remain unclear.

“Among the aircraft in the PAF are Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) 737, Gulfstream G550, Gulfstream G500, two Falcon 7X, HS 4000, two Agusta 139, and two Agusta 101. Notably, the BBJ 737 serves as the Nigerian Air Force One, exclusively catering to the President’s travel needs.

“While the fate of the BBJ 737 remains uncertain, the administration has earmarked Falcon and Embraer jets for potential sale” the statement said.

HURIWA said the government would be judged according to how it followed the law and observed all the ethics in selling off the prized national assets including rendering proper account just as the group endorsed the decision to downsize the over-sized Presidential Air Fleet that represented “more of cash-guzzling assets” because of the unprecedented costs of yearly maintenance of the ten jets and helicopters.

NIM

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