Sunday, March 9, 2014

Minister accused of spending N10bn on private jet

A serving minister in the cabinet of President Goodluck Jonathan has been accused of maintaining a jet in the private hangers of the nation’s airports with a whopping sum of N10 billion in two years.

Of this amount, the cost of stationing the jet in private hangers of the airports had cost N3.120 billion within the period.

This allegation was contained in a petition forwarded to President Jonathan by some workers at the nation’s airports, under the aegis of Concerned Aviation Professionals (CAP) at the weekend.

The petition, also copied to the Senate President, David mark; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal; Senate Committee on Public Petitions, House Committee on Public Petitions, all political parties with members in the National Assembly and civil society organisations, has it that CAP is in possession of details of operation of the jet, a Challenger 850 with registration number 0E-ILA.

It was signed by both the coordinating chairman and coordinating secretary of CAP, Abdul Malik Masaya and John Obande Anihinru, respectively.

“We have details and impeccable records which confirm that the ‘Super Minister’ has been frittering away scarce Nigerian resources in maintaining the Challenger 850 aircraft at one of the private hangers in Nigerian airports in the last two years.

“The incontrovertible evidence we have is that the minister has been committing 500,000 euros (N130 million), monthly, to maintaining the aircraft in the last two years. Thus, in two years, the minister has committed the sum of N3.120 billion to keeping the jet, which is for personal and family use alone,” the professionals said.

They alleged further that the cost of flying the jet around the world was what cumulated to the said N10 billion, boasting that records of the many trips, solely on vacation and personal ventures, that the jet had been on were available.

They said, “We make bold to say the amount above is just a tip of the iceberg. Many other billions have been wasted in flying the jet around the world, obviously for leisure, by the minister and solely members of the immediate family.

“Our records show that the amount already wasted by this minister and members of the family on trips that are, in no way, beneficial to Nigeria runs into not less than N10 billion.

“The worst of all, Sir, is the fact that an agency of government is paying the billions used to maintain this jet. We are aware of a war that is now brewing in the lucrative government agency when some directors got wind of the huge funds being channeled into maintaining the minister’s private jet.”

Members of CAP challenged the president to investigate not only their allegation, but also the contractor involved in the maintenance of the aircraft so as to ascertain whether or not the services were being paid for by Nigeria.

“We want you to investigate who entered into the contract for maintaining the Challenger jet on behalf of Nigeria. Is it a formal or informal contract? Why is Nigeria paying for the jet? We cannot comprehend the sense in keeping a plane solely for the use of a minister, especially when the plane is not part of the presidential fleet.

“Sir, we are not speculating. We know the implication of details contained in this letter for your government, but we are concerned that this is no longer something to be kept under the table.

“Details in our possession include the series of flights the minister had engaged in with the plane in the last two years. The details also include the different locations, time and date of the flights, as well as dates the plane returned to Nigeria at each instance.

“In fact, we can confirm to you that the plane has been in use since July 2002.we are concerned that the waste has continued even in the face of dwindling national budget,” CAP said.


Story and comments/reaction:  http://www.tribune.com.ng

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