VIPs Hit Plateau With 30 Private, Chartered Jets

Over 20 governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress and several other party chieftains arrived at the Jos airport on Tuesday with over 30 private and chartered jets to witness the presidential campaign inauguration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his running mate, Alhaji Kashim Shettima.

Data obtained from aviation authorities showed that the Yakubu Gowon Airport recorded over 95 aircraft arrivals and departures of private and commercial planes which conveyed the APC bigwigs, top government officials, and other Very Important Personalities in and out of the Plateau State capital.

While about 17 private jets and helicopters arrived at the airport for the august political gathering, over 15 regional jets and turboprops also touched down in the aerodrome…

According to the airport and airspace data obtained by The PUNCH, some of the luxury private jets which touched down at the airport are: Canadian-made Bombardier Challenger 601 operated by Air First Hospitality with an American registration number N320MK, Hawker Siddeley HS 125 operated by Trobell with registration number 5N-ALG, and Learjet 45 operated by Max Air with registration number 5N-BLW.

Others are Challenger 601 operated by West Link with registration number 5N-PDA, United Aviation’s HS125 with registration number 5N-AMM, Gyro Air’s HS125 with registration number 5N-AUB, and Global Aviation’s HS125 with registration number 5NBNM.

The list also includes Triaxell’s Gulfstream IV with registration number 5N-PZE, Nest Oil’s Gulfstream IV with registration number 5N-BYO, and Mounthill Aviation’s Learjet 45 with registration number 5N-BZS, IZY Air’s Challenger 601 with registration number 5N-1ZY, Dornier Aviation’s Beechcraft B190 with registration number 5N-BYW, and Dornier Aviation D328 with registration 5N-BYN

Some of the regional jets that landed in Jos also include Max Air Embraer E135 with registration 5N-BXK, Air Peace Embraer E145, Jet Support Embraer E135, and Aero Tak’s E135 with registration number 5NLRK.

Others are Jet support’s Embraer E145 with registration number 5N-BZT, KS R3 Global’s Embraer E145 with registration number 5N-LOS, Jaz Aviation’s Aviation’s Embraer 135 with registration number 5N-JLA, ValueJet’s Bombardier Challenger CRJ9 and Max Air’s Boeing 737 plane.

Others include Xejet’s Embraer E145 with registration 5N-BZN, Azman Air’s Boeing 737-300 with registration number 5N-AIS, Arik Air’s Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 with registration number 5N-BKW.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was also at the event. Some of the aircraft in the Presidential Air Fleet are PAF Boeing 737 with registration number 5N-FGT, PAF Nigerian Air Force helicopter with registration number HIPO04

Also on the ground at the airport was PAF helicopter with registration number 5N-FGI, NAF aircraft F900 with registration number NGR961.

Findings show that the airport lacks adequate parking space for the high number of aircraft arriving in the state capital. As such, some of the aircraft were forced to fly to Abuja to park, which is just about 30 minutes flight from Plateau. It made it easier for the pilots of the VIP jets to return to pick up their passengers.

This was after an old and unused aircraft hangar at the airport was used for parking by some of the arriving aircraft.

However, Tinubu’s presidential inauguration recorded more private and charter jets than that of Peoples Democratic Party’s Atiku Abubakar where about 15 private and chartered jets landed in Uyo airport, Akwa Ibom State, for the formal inauguration of the party’s presidential campaign.

Jos stadium

Meanwhile, Tinubu’s presidential campaign was held inside Rwang Pam stadium with party chieftains expressing confidence that the party’s standard bearer would coast home to victory in the 2023 poll.

Our correspondent who was at the Jos airport observed the aircraft which brought dignitaries from different parts of the country to the state capital from where they were moved in motorcades to the Rwang Pam stadium, the venue of the campaign.

Prominent Nigerians at the rally included the Senate President, Ahmed Lawal; governors of Cross River, Ben Ayade; Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai; Yobe, Mai Buni; Imo, Hope Uzodimma; Plateau, Simon Lalong; Kogi, Yahaya Bello; Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), and Lagos State Deputy Governor, Femi Hamzat.

Others were former Bauchi State governor, Mohammed Abubakar, former Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, former governor of Borno State, Modu Ali-Sheriff, and former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.

Also at the rally were the APC presidential candidate’s wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, and Hajiya Nana Shettima, wife of the vice presidential candidate, who both addressed the crowd, and Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, the wife of Governor Sanwoolu of Lagos, ministers, and members of the APC National Working Committee.

At the event, Buhari assisted by the APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, handed over the APC flag to the presidential candidate, who in his speech promised to neutralise terrorists and recalibrate the nation’s security architecture.

The President equally promised to lead the party’s campaign for the 2023 presidential election.

Buhari assures voters

Before going to the campaign venue, Buhari was driven to the palace of the Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Jacob Gyang Buba, in the company of the APC candidate, the Director-General, Presidential Campaign Council and Governor of Plateau State Simon Lalong, Chairman of the APC Abdullahi Adamu, among others.

Buhari, during his visit to the Gbong Gwom of Jos reiterated his commitment to ensuring that every vote counted while urging party members to march to deliver the APC candidates now that the party had decided.

According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari, said, “No election winner will be denied his mandate, irrespective of the party to which they belonged,” apparently in response to the Campaign Director-General, Governor Simon Lalong, who announced the intention to recreate the 1993 Moshood Abiola’s historic victory in 2023, in a campaign that took off in the same city 30 years ago. That election victory was annulled by the military.

Thousands of party faithful and supporters were also bused to the campaign venue.

Tinubu in his remarks said serving Nigeria is what he had always done and when elected, he would do more to build the economy, provide jobs, power, security, agricultural production and processing as well as the industrial revolution.

He stated, “We hereby reaffirm our commitment to progressive good governance and to the fruits that such governance can bring to this nation.   February 2023 is more than an election. It is a fight to define the soul of the nation and to determine our collective fate.

‘’Do we adhere to the ideals of broadly shared prosperity, competence, peace, justice and compassion toward all? Or do we toss these ideals away, lashing ourselves to the divisive politics of the past or to those whose ranting show they cannot distinguish between fact and fantasy?’’

“One party wants to take us back to a past that never should have been. Another party wants to take us to a past that resides only in its candidate’s head. Neither the old road nor the fantasy road is good enough.

“Instead, we forge the wiser path toward our approved destination —  an even better Nigeria. This is what the election is truly about,” he added.

To ensure overall energy security and resource mobilisation for the country, Tinubu promised to continue the ongoing exploration works in all frontier basins and especially speed up the development of the commercial oil find in Gombe/ Bauchi states.

He said, “Most importantly, I will give utmost priority to extinguishing terrorists and violent criminals. We shall augment our military, police and security personnel while providing them with better tactical communication and mobility. We will employ hi-tech aerial surveillance to track and attack these menaces.

“These evil forces seek to destroy our democratic way of life. I have news for them. We will defeat their destructive way of life. They shall be utterly defeated and vanquished from our soil.”

He thanked Lalong for leading the campaign as the director-general and hosting the flag-off which he described as successful.

While ending his address, the presidential candidate mistakenly blurted ‘PD’ while praying for his party.

The APC candidate was heard screaming, “God bless Nigeria, God bless PD-APC.”

The video clip immediately went viral as Tweeps shared it on Twitter.

The APC national chairman said Tinubu’s emergence as the party’s presidential candidate in a free and fair contest shows that he is an acceptable candidate to the party and Nigerians.

He, therefore, challenged the party members to work hard and ensure victory at all levels.

“Our victory is a done deal. We have no doubts that President Buhari will produce his successor. Let’s give democracy a chance”, he added, pointing out that Tinubu would build on the achievements of the President and ensure that Nigerians are provided with the best opportunities to thrive.

Former Governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye expressed confidence that Plateau and Nigerians would ensure APC and  Tinubu’s victory at the poll.

Dariye stated, “In 2015 and 2019, what the people did to the APC, we will repeat it again in 2023.”

Cross River State Governor, Ayade said that Buhari had done well in the past years and that it was important for the APC to produce his successor in order to continue the good work.

El-Rufai speaks

Governor El-Rufai who spoke in Hausa urged the people to support the APC presidential candidate to enable him to succeed.

He accused the opposition party of using ethnicity and sometimes religion to drag down the APC’s name and its candidates.

According to him, some people from the North hinted that they would not vote for Tinubu because he is not a Northerner, but he noted that the North would support what is right.

He stated, ‘’They said Asiwaju is not a northerner and they will not vote for him. The people of the North know what is right, they are friendly, and he worked in Lagos, treated our people in Lagos very well, and supported President Muhammadu Buhari to become president twice.

‘’The President has presented his candidate, Bola Tinubu. Those who are saying that Tinubu is not from the North, do they love the North more than the President? When they ruled the country what achievement did they bring? Do not be deceived, this election is between good and evil, between developments and retrogression.

‘’When you allow them into power the North will be dragged backward again, and there will be suffering. They have spent eight years out of power,  so the moment they are given the chance they will be back to embezzling with or without what to embezzle, they will embezzle. Therefore do not be deceived, both the youths and women.‘’

In his remarks, Lalong said there is great excitement and expectation over the prospects of a Tinubu government which he said promises to serve the people and carry them along ‘’just as Mr. President has done over the years.’’

Vice Presidential candidate, Senator Shettima, Senate President Lawan, Progressives Governors Forum Chairman Atiku Bagudu and other governors in various goodwill messages assured that Tinubu and all the candidates of the APC would emerge victorious in the poll.

Badaru confident

Addressing the rally, the Coordinator of the Tinubu Presidential Campaign, North-West, Governor Mohammed Badaru of Jigawa State  stated, ‘’Today, God has beamed the light and the truth has been unveiled; the liars will begin to run. Seven years and a half back we promised you three things: to enhance security, revitalize the economy and fight corruption. These liars are just lying after destroying the country in the past 16 years and giving it to us.

‘’There was insecurity and God brought President Buhari. Out of about 16 local governments in Borno State in the hands of Boko Haram but they are now rescued. No government did what the president did in the area of security.’’

Commenting on the slip by the APC presidential candidate, the Peoples Democratic Party described it as a sign of God’s blessing on the party.

The PDP spokesman, Debo Ologunagba in a statement said the development further attested to Tinubu’s belief that ‘’the PDP represents the hope and aspiration of largely Nigerians for a secure, prosperous future under a united country.’’

Ologunagba added that since ‘’Tinubu’s prophetic blessings’’ on the PDP, the party has been receiving flurries of calls, solidarity messages and visits from chieftains of the APC, who believe that his prayer is a divine act of God to lead the nation to the right direction.

He stated, “It is apparent that Asiwaju Tinubu was speaking under the ostensible weight of the recent revelation of his indictment for narcotic trafficking which has become a huge burden from which he cannot extricate himself and for which he has lost all moral and legitimate capacity to occupy the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“This perhaps explains why Asiwaju Tinubu was incoherent and had no concrete message to Nigerians at the flag-off of his campaign,’’ the party added.

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