By Sadiq Umar – The Presidency Thursday explained why the Presidential Aircraft, NAF 001 has remained parked at the London airport, saying it is a standard operating procedure for the Nigeria Armed Forces as represented by the Nigeria Air Force not to abandon their Commander-In-Chief in whatever circumstance.
Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu who was reacting to media report criticizing the parking of the Presidential aircraft in UK said the presidency is constrained to decry the criticisms, stating that it is “mostly informed by lack of understanding of protocol around foreign trips by Heads of State all over the world”.Mr. Shehu added that for reasons of protocol, national security, diplomacy and prestige, no world leader who travels abroad and is left without plans for immediate return or possible evacuation.
“We have also read claims about outrageous fees allegedly paid by Nigeria. The published amounts are totally untrue,” he stated, adding that Aircraft conveying heads of state all over the world usually enjoy waivers even where payments for parking are differentiated by aircraft categories.
He explained that where waivers are denied, the daily parking charges on the aircraft will not exceed a thousand pound.
“We have been assured that where the waiver is not granted, payment will not exceed £1,000, which is a quarter of the amount being peddled.”
He further stated that President Buhari was not the first, and would not be the last, to have a Presidential aircraft waiting for him.
“All past Heads of this country have had this privilege, and the part that surprises the most is that leaders who in the past travelled with three Nigerian aircraft did not suffer this trenchant criticism.
“We appeal to Nigerians to ignore opposition campaign aimed at derailing this administration’s big plans for the country,” Mr. Shehu claimed.
“This is a government that is constructing the Second Niger Bridge, the Mambila Power Plant, the East-West and the North-South standard gauge railway lines.
“We are a government that has saved this country an annual loss of two trillion Naira from fraudulent petroleum subsidy schemes by influential citizens and their children, and rid the public service of about 50,000 ghost workers. The Buhari administration certainly deserves a chance,” he added.