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Three Presidential Air Fleet Proposed For Sale As Jets Gulp Billions In Maintenance

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Three jets in the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) are to be sold off, it was learnt at the weekend. This is part of the cost-saving measures being adopted by the Tinubu Administration, an official told our correspondent.

There are 10 aircraft in the fleet – six jets and four helicopters – which will be cut to seven if the planned action sails through.

During the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the plan to sell two planes in the fleet did not materialise.

In October 2016, a Dassault Falcon 7x executive jet and a Beechcraft Hawker 4000 business jet were put up for sale.

The preferred bidders who initially agreed to pay $ 24 million for the two aircraft, later reduced their offer to $ 11 million. This was rejected by the then government.

Thereafter, an arrangement to put some of the aircraft on chatter for willing governors was initiated to make the planes income-generating, thereby reducing the government expenses on maintenance.

The planes in the Presidential Fleet are Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) 737, Gulfstream G550, Gulfstream G500, two Falcon 7X, HS 4000, two Agusta 139, and two Agusta 101.

The BBJ 737 is the Nigerian Air Force One, which is used exclusively by the President.

It is designed to serve as an office and a residential quarter on air to enable the president to function effectively during his trip.

The President also uses one of the helicopters for shuttles during his trips around the country.

Other jets in the fleet are used by top government officials, including the Vice President, governors, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the National Assembly members on special shuttles, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, ministers on special missions, the Chief of Staff, advisers and even ambassadors of plenipotentiary status.

It could not be ascertained at the weekend if the President BBJ 737 will be sold and replaced.

The BBJ was bought for about $43 million during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

A Falcon and Embraer jets have been slated to be sold.

Not less than N80 billion has been budgeted for the PAF as maintenance cost, as follows: 2016 (N3.65 billion), 2017 (N4.37 billion), 2018 (N7.26 billion), 2019 (N7.30 billion), 2020 (N6.79 billion), 2021 (N12.55 billion), 2022 (N12.48 billion) and in 2023 about N25.7billion, made up of N13billion in the budget and N12.7billion in the 2023 Supplementary Budget.

The amount released from the budgetary line year on year could not be confirmed.

But President Tinubu is said to be uncomfortable with the rising cost of maintenance, hence his directive to reduce the fleet.

A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The President is uncomfortable with the rising cost of maintaining the planes.

“Three planes have been pencilled down for disposal.

“The main reason is cutting down high maintenance costs.

“I think officers in PAF were particularly concerned about the frequency of maintenance and how much it costs the nation.

“The President decided to let off the aircraft that constitute the most burdensome.”

An investigation confirmed that the presidency might have incurred over $5 million as maintenance fees in the past few months.

It was unclear the actual figure of outstanding commitments on the fleet which have not been settled.

Giving reasons for the use of some of the planes by top government officials, a source said: “It takes much time to connect some African countries by air. In such a situation, the Presidential Air Fleet is handy.

“The use of the fleet is domiciled in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) for effective management.”

Last week, President Tinubu in another cost-saving measure imposed a three-month travel ban on public-funded foreign trips by Federal Government officials.

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Disparaging Dangote Uncalled For, Creating Bad Waves For Nigeria – AFDB President, Adesina

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The president of the African Development Bank Group, Akinwumi Adesina, has spoken out in defence of the Dangote Refinery, addressing concerns about potential monopolistic practices.

In a statement shared by businessman Femi Otedola on Tuesday via X, Adesina expressed his shock at the controversy surrounding Dangote’s operations, warning that it is “creating bad waves for Nigeria globally.”

According to Otedola’s post, Adesina argued that monopolies often arise in industries with high entry barriers or capital costs, citing railways and large-scale refineries as examples.

He was quoted as saying, “Monopoly often exists where there are high barriers to entry or high capital costs. How many individuals or companies can do railways? How many can do refineries of the scale of Dangote Refineries? In a nation that has been importing refined petroleum products for several decades, the abnormal simply became very normal.”

The AfDB President emphasised the significant investment made by Dangote, stating, “No smart investor would make a $19.5 billion investment and want it to be undermined by importers.”

He highlighted manufacturing challenges in Nigeria, describing the business environment as fraught with policy uncertainties and reversals.

“To manufacture is extremely expensive and risky. This is even more so in Nigeria, given the very challenging business and economic environment, fraught with policy uncertainties and policy reversals, and where the self-defeating default mode of “simply import it” is always so easily rationalized and chorused to solve any problem,” he said.

Addressing concerns about anti-competitive practices, Adesina said, “Competition is good for everyone. But is Dangote refineries anti-competitive? What is the evidence? Has Dangote Refineries prevented any other company from setting up refineries? Why have others not done so? How come they have not done so for several decades?

“Was it Dangote that held them back? But Dangote refineries surely cannot be asked to ‘compete’ with importers of petroleum products. That is not competition. Let the importers set up local refineries and compete by refining in Nigeria. That is fair and justified competition.”

Adesina stressed the broader economic implications of the refinery, stating, “We cannot and must not undermine, disparage or kill local industries, talk less of one that is of this scale — a jewel of industrialisation in Nigeria. It is more than simply delivering the cheapest product to the market.

“It is about domestic supply security, driving (and yes, protecting) globally competitive industries, maximising forward and backward linkages in the local economy, job creation, reducing forex expenses and shoring up the Naira. We must not be myopic.

“This whole disparaging of Dangote is uncalled for. It is self-defeating. And it is very bad for Nigeria. Who will want to come and invest in a country that disparages and undermines its own largest investor? Investing is tough. Pettiness is easy. It sadly sends a signal that the price for sacrificing for Nigeria is to get sacrificed.”

 

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BBC To Cut 500 Jobs As It Attempts To Save £200m For ‘Transformation’ Of The Corporation

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The BBC has announced plans to cut 500 jobs as it attempts to save £200 million to drive the “transformation” of the corporation.

Chief operating adviser, Leigh Tavaziva said it is making the changes to improve its premium video offering and digital capabilities.

It comes as the BBC is already attempting to save £500 million as part of a plan announced two years ago.

Tavaziva said “significant activity” is already underway to make the corporation “more flexible”.

She said: “In March this year we announced a requirement for an additional £200 million of savings and reinvestment plans to drive the continued transformation of the BBC.

“This will support greater investment into premium video content and further develop our digital capabilities.”

She added: “To further build our digital capabilities, whilst targeting efficiencies, over the next two years we will continue to close and transfer roles in some areas and create new roles in growth areas.

“This will result in a forecast net reduction of 500 roles in the public service by March 26, with further growth in targeted areas planned in our commercial group.

“To support these changes we will today be launching a new voluntary redundancy scheme for staff.

“Our priority remains to protect and champion the BBC’s fighting role as the UK’s public service broadcaster, for all our audiences both local and global.

“I would like to thank all colleagues for their continued efforts and commitments over the past 12 months.

“I am immensely proud of the exceptional content creativity, delivery, and innovation that our teams both provide and support every day.”

The BBC announced in March 2023 that it was to cut 1,000 hours of TV in order to save money, with half of that coming from sport.

In the same year, the corporation announced it was scrapping its in-house chamber choir, the BBC Singers, and reducing salaried orchestral posts across the BBC English Orchestras by around 20%.

In December 2022 it said that it was making £11m worth of cuts in local radio, which saw its 39 stations required to share content and broadcast less localised content.

Back in 2016, the BBC said it needed to cut £800m worth of costs, with £80m of that coming from news.

The move saw the Andrew Neil Show axed in 2020, along with 450 jobs in English regional TV news and current affairs, local radio and online news.

 

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I Have No Blending Plant Outside Nigeria, NNPC Boss Kyari Replies Dangote

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The Group Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari has said he does not own a blending plant outside Nigeria.

Kyari stated this on Tuesday, July 23, while reacting to claims that some officials of the NNPC have blending plants in Malta.

Reacting in a post on his X handle (formerly Twitter), Kyari said he had been inundated with calls from family members and friends, asking if he truly owns a blending plant in Malta.

Kyari stated that he does not own or operate any business directly or by proxy anywhere in the world except a local mini-agricultural venture.

He also said he is not aware of any employee of the NNPC that owns or operates a blending plant in Malta or anywhere else in the world.

“I am inundated by enquiries from family members, friends and associates on the public declaration by the President of Dangote Group that some NNPC workers have established a blending plant in Malta thereby impeding procurements from local production of Petroleum products.

“To clarify the allegations regarding the blending plant, I do not own or operate any business directly or by proxy anywhere in the world with the exception of a local mini Agric venture, neither am I aware of any employee of the NNPC, that owns or operates a blending plant in Malta or anywhere else in the world.

“A blending plant in Malta or any part of the world has no influence over NNPC’s business operations and strategic actions.”

The NNPC boss threatened to sanction any official of the NNPC involved in such acts if they truly exist.

 

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