Governance cost rises, N21b for three presidential jets

Dora_akunyiliNIGERIA’S rising public expenditure profile swelled on Wednesday by another N21 billion ($154 million). The money will be used to acquire three jets to boost the aircraft in the presidential fleet.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC), which met in Abuja on Wednesday, approved the money for President Goodluck Jonathan to buy the aircraft.
Only on Tuesday, the Senate had approved the sum of N87.721 billion for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC for the conduct of the 2011 general elections.
The Presidency however explained that it is not Jonathan’s plane that was being changed.
Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media, Ima Niboro, who commented on FEC’s action, said: “Please, note that it is not the President’s plane that is being changed. It is some old aircraft on the fleet that are being replaced. The fleet services the entire apparatus of governance, from the executive to the legislature, judiciary, certain levels of the security services and more. This is for clarification.”
Also, yesterday, three ministerial nominees recently cleared by the Senate were sworn-in by Jonathan, who immediately assigned portfolios to them and redeployed two serving ministers.
  Those sworn-in were Kenneth Gbagi (Delta) as Minister of State for Education, Mrs. Yabawa Lawan Wali (Borno), Minister of State for Finance and Mrs. Salamatu Suleiman (Kebbi), Minister of State II Foreign Affairs.
  In the new deal, Navy Captain Olubolade of the Ministry of Special Duties moves to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as Minister of State, while the Minister of State for Finance, Remi Babalola, is now Minister of Special Duties.
  Also sworn-in are INEC Commissioners, Ambassador Mohammed Ahmed Wali and Dr. Christopher Emoga, as well as Prof. Dan Adebiyi as the Special Adviser on Policy Monitoring and evaluation.
  All the new ministers have assumed duty.
The weekly FEC meeting, presided over by Jonathan approved the immediate release of the N21 billion contained in the 2010 budget for the purchase of the aircraft.
 The deal was the outcome of negotiations between Nigerian officials and two separate business concerns from France and the United States for the three aircraft, with Dassault Aviation of France handling the supply of two units of new Falcon 7x Aircraft, while the Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation of USA is to supply the Gulfstream G550 for use by the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF).
Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili, said negotiations at the instance of the President culminated into a Definite Purchase Agreement (DPA), which was signed in May 2010.
She said the purchase price of the two Falcon jets was put at $102 million, while the single Gulfstream jet is to cost another $53 million totalling $154 million.
  Akunyili said the committee set up for the negotiation of the acquisition of the aircraft got a reduction of $2.9 million from the proposed price of the two Falcon jets and another reduction of $5.47 million from the offer price of the single Gulfstream jet.
  The minister explained that the first of the two Falcon jets would be delivered by the end of the fourth quarter of this year while the second Falcon and the Gulfstream jets will be delivered by the end of the second quarter of next year.
 “The sum of N21 billion has been provided in the 2010 Appropriation Act for the outright purchase of the two Falcon 7x aircraft and the one unit G550 to be delivered as agreed in the contract,” she stated.
“After consideration,” Akunyili said: “Council approved the purchase of two Falcon 7x aircraft and one Gulfstream G550 aircraft in favour of Messrs Dassault Aviation and Messrs Gulfstream respectively at the cost of $154.529 million. “
The Falcon 7X is the latest member of the Falcon family of aircraft and flies faster, further and higher than its predecessors. It is the world’s first fly-by-wire business jet.
The fly-by-wire control technology, adapted from Dassault fighter aircraft, adds performance and safety benefits, including precise flight path control, automatic trim adjustment, and basic autopilot functions via the side-tick control for setting the heading and attitude.
As at 2008, the approximate unit cost of the 7X was $50 million, while pilots who spoke to The Guardian, described the aircraft as “real machine” that flies higher than any light aircraft.
With eight passengers and a crew of four, the range of the aircraft is 10,556km (5,700nm), allowing non-stop flight from say, Riyadh to New York or from Paris to Tokyo.
With three engines, the aircraft is unrestricted by Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (ETOPS) International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Standard and Recommended Practice (SARP) permitting twin-engine commercial air transporters to fly routes that, at some points, are farther than a distance of 60 minutes’ flying time from an emergency or diversion airport considerations across oceans. The aircraft flies at speeds above Mach 0.85.
Niboro, who fielded questions from State House Correspondents, after the FEC meeting, said the Air Force One being used by the President is not being replaced by other aircraft in PAF.
He said that the aircraft would not only be operated as a fleet, but would also be deployed appropriately to serve other principal officers of the Federal Government, including the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“I have to clarify also that these aircraft are not going to be used by the President but what is happening basically is that it is being operated as a fleet and it is being deployed appropriately to serve other purposes, especially serving principal officers of the Federal Government, including, as the case may be, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.”
Niboro explained that the provision made for the procurement of the new aircraft for the presidential fleet in the 2010 budget was informed by the need to gradually replace the aging aircraft in use by the presidency, some of which are as old as 18 years.
Indications also emerged in Abuja yesterday that the 50th independence anniversary would be eventful as Jonathan officially unveiled the countdown to the event on October 1.
In his address, at the event, jointly organised by DAAR Communications and Integrated Management Resource at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Jonathan described the planned celebration as historic and directed the countdown clocks to be placed in strategic places across the country where Nigeria intends to reenact the same event of lowering the Union Jack and the raising of the Nigerian flag 50 years ago.
“This event is to officially begin the countdown to the 50th anniversary, which will be celebrated on October 1, 2010. I have directed that the counting down clocks be placed at strategic places as a constant reminder of our jubilee independence anniversary.
“I dare say that current challenges notwithstanding, Nigeria has a glorious past worthy of celebration that should arose in us all the good things about Nigeria. We must rededicate ourselves to those patriotic ideas and creative potentials in us all.
“It is worthy of note that the event to celebrate our 50th independence anniversary is purely private sector initiative sponsored by Integrated Management Resources in partnership with DAAR Communications Plc, those organisations deserve our special commendation for the patriotic vision.”

Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC and CEO of Portia Web Solutions. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websits. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.

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