Vocal Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has said that President Buhari should apologise to Nigerians for the misuse of the presidential jet, asserting that the country spends a lot on maintaining the fleet.
He said this in response to the Presidency’s defence of availing the presidential jet for a private engagement of Buhari’s daughter, Hanan in Bauchi.
Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu had released a statement defending the action, stating that the President reserved the right to decide who could use the jet.
He said, “It’s true that a member of the First Family was flown to Bauchi on a mission duly authorised. It wasn’t an impromptu or improper trip because it followed normal procedure. The Presidency informed the National Security Adviser of the mission who in turn informed the Commander of the Presidential Air Fleet.
“The normal practice, in existence for a long time, is that the Presidential Air fleet is available to the President and the First Family and four others. These four are the Vice-President, the Senate President the Speaker and any other person(s) authorised by the President.”
Falana in response to this statement, on Sunday said, “With respect, the statement credited to the Presidency is incorrect as it is at variance with the official policy of the Federal Government. In other words, the official policy does not authorise the children of the President to use the Presidential jets to attend to private social functions.
“In fact, there is no precedent whatsoever for such privatisation of the presidency of Nigeria. Having publicly declared that his administration would maintain ‘a compact and reliable aircraft for the safe airlift of the President, the Vice-President and other government officials that go on special missions’ President Buhari is stopped from allowing members of the first family to use the jets for their private affairs.”
He urged the President to stay true to his promises of cutting cost of governance and downsizing the Presidential airfleet.
He said, “In view of the foregoing, we call on President Buhari to stop the members of his family from using any of the aircraft in the presidential fleet with a view to cutting down on waste. A country that is said to be the headquarters of the greatest number of poverty-stricken people in the world cannot afford to waste billions of naira on the use of Presidential aircraft and hiring of commercial jets by state governors that are owing workers several months of unpaid salaries.”