By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA – The presidency has vehemently refuted the reports in several quarters that a huge sum of N6b had been lavished on the Maintenance of presidential Air fleet (PAF) in the last 6 months.
The presidency spoke through the Senior Special Assistant to the president on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.
Shehu in a statement said that only N2.3b had been spent contrary to the figures making the rounds.
He regretted that the president has had to be distracted by some “fictional report”, which he had “caused the government a lot of negative reviews especially in the online media”.
The statement further stated thus: “The government is focused on solving the many major issues our country faces in the areas of the economy, corruption and security. Yet almost every week, the Presidency has to also deal with the distractions which do nothing but distract from the task of government.
“Referring to documents he had requested from the Operational Office of the Presidential Fleet after his attention was drawn to the speculative report, Malam Shehu pointed out that the sum of N2.3 billion was released to the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation between May and November 2015. This includes releases for personnel cost, overhead and capital expenditure out of the sum of N5,190,381,386.00 appropriated for PAF on the 2015 budget.
“The documents also showed that the sum of N2,127,103,086.66 had so far been expended, leaving a balance of N172,568,912.34 from the amount released.
“However, the sum of N149,062,791.12 was transferred from the PAG’s operation account to the Treasury Single Account, following the President’s recent directive,” he said.
“He added that the sum of N23,801,122.17 remains unutilised out of the funds so far released. During the period 31 May 2015 till date, the Fleet expended the sum of N1,358,910,962.75 to settle outstanding liabilities carried over from last year till May 2015. Furthermore, the sum of N500 million was refunded to the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA for financial support rendered to the Fleet prior to release of funds from the OAGF.
“Thus, the Fleet expended the sum of N449,081,037.25 within the last months comprising N98,500,218.00 for operations, N165,373,176.91 on training and N85,500,116.75 on personnel medicals and overhead. Additionally, the sum of N99,715,493.51 was expended on aircraft maintenance, spares, and subscription services required for operations.
“Any of these documents could have been made available had the newspaper reached out to me or to any one of my colleagues. The damage to the image of government and the good management of the Presidential Air Fleet could have been avoided”.
“Shehu also pointed that the number of aircrafts on the Presidential fleet was 10, not 14 as being bandied about, even as he gave the inventory of the planes to include:
1. 1× 737 BBJ
2. 1× G550
3. 1× G500
4. 2× Falcon 7X
5. 1× HS 4000
6. 2× Agusta139
7. 2× Agusta 101
Total aircraft holdings 10.”