House of Representatives Divided Over Presidential Jet Maintenance Issues

Members of the House of Representatives experienced a sharp division on Wednesday during a plenary session in the Green Chamber, as Ahmed Satomi raised concerns over the recent breakdowns of presidential jets. Satomi, representing Jere Federal Constituency, Borno State, highlighted incidents where President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima faced inconveniences due to faulty aircraft, questioning the use of appropriated funds for maintenance.

Satomi brought attention to an incident in April when President Tinubu had to charter a plane from the Netherlands to Saudi Arabia for the World Economic Forum. More recently, Vice President Shettima canceled a trip to the United States for the 2024 US-Africa Business Summit because of a faulty aircraft. Satomi demanded an explanation from the National Security Adviser (NSA) regarding the maintenance funds for the presidential fleet.

“We have appropriated enough funds for them to maintain this aircraft, that is why I say the NSA should come and tell Nigerians what is happening. We have all it takes as a country not only to own but also to maintain the aeroplanes,” Satomi asserted.

Ali Isah, representing Balanga/Billiri Federal Constituency in Gombe State, supported the investigation and suggested that President Tinubu and other leaders travel by road to experience the state of Nigeria’s infrastructure firsthand. “I think this will allow our President and other leaders to travel by road and appreciate the state of our roads. This happens all the time in some countries of the world,” Isah stated.

This suggestion was met with opposition from Deputy Speaker Benjamin Kalu, who presided over the session. Kalu questioned the practicality of having the President travel by road. However, Deputy Minority Leader Kingsley Chinda supported Isah’s stance, pointing out that in Britain, the Prime Minister often flies commercial airlines like British Airways. Chinda also called for the revival of a national carrier to avoid such embarrassments.

Despite the debate, the motion was ultimately stepped down as Satomi announced that his committee would investigate the matter independently. Satomi explained, “I didn’t step down the motion because it lacked merit or support. I stepped it down because I have the power to summon the NSA and the Commandant of the Presidential Air Fleet, which is the prayer in that motion for them to explain.”

Satomi emphasized the urgency of the issue, citing an incident where the Vice President’s aircraft developed problems mid-flight, forcing a return to land. “As I speak with you this afternoon (Wednesday), he used a commercial flight to Kebbi, and the aircraft belongs to an individual. The Presidential aircraft belongs to the country. That is why the presidential jet is called ‘Airforce 1’. Therefore, it is a shame!” Satomi concluded.


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