How presidential aspirants squander millions on private jets

Governor Tambuwal on one of his trips

Nine serving governors have relegated the core service to their states to pursue their presidential ambitions while allegedly spending millions of naira in state funds to charter private jets with the aim of wooing delegates in various states, a Daily Trust analysis indicates.

The governors, who are aspiring for the presidency, include Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom), Ben Ayade (Cross River), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa) and Yahaya Bello (Kogi).

With 8 of these governors concluding their second term in office, Bala Mohammed only served his first term.

Other presidential aspirants travel across the length and breadth of the country in chartered flights while the reckless spending of their peers has attracted the attention of Nigerians.

Daily Trust reports that there are 38 presidential aspirants in both APC and PDP including the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, among others.

What is the cost of hiring jets

At the moment, a private jet charter costs between $7,000 (over N4m at 580/$) to $10,000 (N5.8m) per hour depending on the size of the plane.

An operator who spoke to Daily Trust said the prices could be higher should a client request a luxury jet that could carry at most 11 passengers like Challenger or Beechcraft Hawker with up to 13 passenger capacity.

In addition, a charter Embraer ERJ 145 for instance, with a 50-passenger capacity, could even cost more depending on the number of waiting hours at the destination airport.

Also, it was gathered that in line with the industry requirement, the private jet operators charge 3,000 dollars per hour, depending on the airline after landing at the airport.

“If it is a two-leg trip – to and fro, you will pay 3,000 dollars per hour as landing and parking charges. It would start reading after the first three hours. The charges vary from airlines,” an aviation expert said.

Boom in the industry

A private jet operator who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity said that there is a boost in demand for private jets.

Ibrahim Aliyu, a security expert said most of the governors could not travel by road to any of the states in the country because of insecurity hence their resort to traveling by air.

“It will be suicidal for the politically-exposed persons to embark on journeys by road and so, they rather use the privileges at their disposal and criss-cross Nigeria by air.

“As you can see, some of the aspirants handling non-executive positions had to drop their ambitions when President Buhari asked them to resign. The reason is simple- they would no longer have access to unlimited resources to foot the bills of rigorous campaigns,” he said.

Daily Trust learnt that there has been a marginal increase in the cost of aircraft charter following inflation and the high cost of operation, hence additional spending by those who prefer air travel. One of the factors that have driven the increase in the cost of charters is aviation fuel, which has virtually quadrupled.

Despite this, that segment of the aviation business continues to boom even as more airlines join the business recently.

It would be recalled that a start-up airline, Xejet Aviation, recently commenced operation to provide only business class passengers.

Aviation analyst, Group Capt. John Ojikutu in a chat with Daily Trust said though private charter services are unscheduled flights, they contribute to the aeronautical revenue of the airport authorities.

“Theirs are unscheduled flights but they pay charges on navigational and air traffic services, landing and parking for day and night at different charges and handling charges. All these are additional revenue earnings for the various aviation services.

“Yes, their flights can increase the unscheduled air traffic movements by about 50 per cent or more and therefore the revenues of the service providers,” he said.

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