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FG’s plans to buy jets shows insensitivity to people’s plight — Obi

Peter Obi

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THE Labour Party’s 2023 presidential candidate, Peter Obi, has criticised the Federal Government’s intentions to buy new jets for President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima.

Obi, today in post on X (previously Twitter), asked the current government to focus on easing people’s suffering rather than wasting scarce resources on the acquisition of new presidential jets.

Last week, the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence requested that the Federal Government acquire new planes for Tinubu and Shettima.

The committee’s recommendation came after it conducted an examination into the status of the presidential aviation fleet.

The move followed accusations of malfunctioning planes in the presidential aviation fleet, which forced the President to fly to Saudi Arabia on a chartered plane from the Netherlands.

However, Obi said at a time when the “country is trending on the global media for facing its worst economic crisis, marked by high inflation, a falling currency, and widespread poverty, the government’s plan to buy new presidential jets demonstrates extreme insensitivity to citizens’ struggles”.

Obi said, “With rising insecurity, poverty, hunger, and homelessness, this decision highlights the disconnect between the government and the people. It is unacceptable and demands a more compassionate use of resources, prioritizing citizens’ welfare.

“It’s on record that our presidential jets have an average age of 12 years, purchased when most Nigerians could afford basic necessities. Now, as our country faces significant challenges, including a high debt profile, our citizens are in even greater need.

“Instead of adding to our luxuries, we should be focused on alleviating their suffering and finding solutions to their problems. For long, our bad leadership has made our priorities, as leaders, to be at variance to the needs of society, which is why we are headed now south, as a nation.

“To elucidate further, despite dropping down to the fourth-largest economy in Africa, with a GDP of $252 billion and a per capita income of $1,080, with huge debt burdens and borrowing to service debts, yet, we are spending $15 million for our Vice President’s residence, while the USA, the world’s largest economy with a GDP of $25 trillion, about 100 times our GDP, and a per capita income of $80,000, about 80 times ours, still houses their Vice President in Number 1 Observatory Circle, a house built over 100 years ago, and whose value is obviously less than the $15 million we are spending on our VP’s residence. A reputable real estate company, actually, reports that the US Vice President’s Official Residence is valued at about $7.5 million today.

“While we had earlier refurbished the old VP residence with $2 million, the over 100 years old US Vice President’s house has only undergone widescale renovations twice, funded by tax payers money; in 1993 and in 2021.

“Every new US VP is free to finance any minor refurbishing from his personal funds. It’s, therefore, time to stop this impunity, insensitivity, and shamelessness and refocus on the needs of our people. We must prioritize education, healthcare, and lifting our citizens out of poverty.

“Let us work together to build a nation that truly serves its people, not just the interests of a few. Let’s rise to the challenge, and build this new Nigeria which is now more possible than ever before.”

Concerns have recently been raised about the conditons of the Presidential Air Fleet.

In May, Vice President Kashim Shettima was unable to attend the Corporate Council on Africa’s 2024 US-Africa Business Summit due to a defective presidential jet.

Last December, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) put a presidential aircraft, the Falcon 900B, up for sale, inviting interested parties to submit proposals for the purchase.

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