MasterwebNews 30/6/17 - Nigeria: Why presidential plane is parked in London

[ Masterweb Reports: Isiaka Wakili reports ] - The Presidency has explained rationale behind parking a presidential aircraft in London as President Muhammadu Buhari continues his medical treatment in the United Kingdom.


The Presidency dismissed criticisms that the presidential aircraft in London consumes £4,000 everyday for parking lot and its idleness.


The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said in a statement yesterday that the presidential aircraft was at the service of President Buhari, who has been in the UK for medical treatment since May 7.


He said the Presidency was constrained to decry criticisms on retention in London of the aircraft, NAF 001, as mostly informed by lack of understanding of protocol around foreign trips by heads of state all over the world.


He said: "It is important to state that for reasons of protocol, national security, diplomacy and prestige, there is no world leader who travels abroad and is left without plans for immediate return or possible evacuation.


"From operational point of view, this country’s Armed Forces as represented by the Nigeria Air Force are not to abandon their Commander-In-Chief in whichever circumstance he is. This is a standard operating procedure."


Shehu described claims about outrageous fees allegedly paid by Nigeria as totally untrue, explaining that aircraft conveying heads of state all over the world usually enjoy waivers even where payments for parking are differentiated by aircraft categories.


According to the presidential spokesman, even where the waiver was not granted, "payment will not exceed £1,000 which is a quarter of the amount being peddled."


He noted that Buhari was not the first to have a presidential aircraft standing by for him as he would "certainly" not be the last.


"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."


Shehu appealed to Nigerians to ignore opposition campaign aimed at derailing Buhari’s administration’s "big plans" for the country.


*Photo Caption - Nigeria presidential jet

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