President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the sale of two presidential aircraft, a Falcon 7x executive jet and Hawker 4000.
It is not clear whether the economic recession in the country may have informed the decision to sell both aircraft but a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, indicated that the sale of the aircraft was to reduce waste.
A national daily was purported to have ran an advertorial on the sale of the aircraft, prompting speculations as to the authenticity of the sale.
But Shehu disclosed to State House correspondents in a terse statement that the information was true.
According to the presidency, “The newspaper advertisements for the sale of two presidential aircraft, a Falcon 7x executive jet and Hawker 4000 were duly authorised by the president.
“This is in line with the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari that aircraft in the presidential air fleet be reduced to cut down on waste.
“When he campaigned to be president, the then All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Muhammadu Buhari, if you recall, promised to look at the presidential air fleet with a view to cutting down on waste.
“His directive to a government committee on this assignment is that he liked to see a compact and reliable aircraft for the safe airlift of the president, the vice president and other government officials that go on special missions.
“This exercise is by no means complete. I am sure the commander of the presidential air fleet will any time from now call you to a ceremony at which he will hand over some other aircraft to the Air Force for their operations”.
According to a source at the presidency, the presidential air fleet comprises of 10 aircraft. These are Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737-800 or Air Force One); one Gulfstream 550, one Gulfstream V (Gulfstream 500), two Falcons 7x, one Hawker Sidley 4000, two Agusta Westland AW 139 helicopters and two Agusta Westland AW 101 helicopters.
Meanwhile, Solomon Dalung, Minister of Youth and Sports, has said bid for the full concession of Abuja and Lagos stadia will be opened in the coming weeks.
Dalung, who had a brief meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday, said the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) has already bought into the concession arrangement which was brokered since 2012.
He said the concession arrangement was meant to put both stadia in constant use and to generate some form of revenue for the government.
The sports minister also revealed that government was handicapped in maintaining the facilities hence the concession.
He also revealed that part of the concession will see the building of five star hotels close to both stadia to boost tourism potential.
“I agree that there is under-utilisation of sports facilities in Abuja. That has taken us to the issue of concession. The facilities cannot be managed effectively by government, looking at the budgetary allocation for even the maintenance.
“Government cannot maintain these facilities. So what we intend to do is to proceed with the concession process which we met on ground.
“FEC had in 2012 approved the concession of Abuja and Lagos stadia. We have proceeded with it and even appointed consultants.
“We are at the stage of getting the approval of Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE); from there we can now proceed to call for bids and engage the private sector so that we can run with the concession arrangement, so that they can come in and invest.
“We have also received the drawing on the proposed ?transformation of the place which will include the creation of artificial lake in the Abuja stadium that will provide for 12 water sports; then the building of a five-star hotel here in Abuja, Lagos will also have the same thing. The adjourning land will have adjourning parks.
“The moment you put these two, the economic status of the stadium will be uplifted and you will have ?foreign athletes coming in because there will be facilities. That’s the best way we can maximise stadium in Abuja in view of how it was located,” Dalung stated.