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Presidential Air Fleet grossly underfunded- Commander

The Presidential Air Fleet says its budgetary allocation in the past years is insufficient to fund its operations.

The Commander of the fleet, Air Vice marshal (AVM) Abubakar Abdullahi, made the remark when he received members of the House of Representatives committee on national security and intelligence who were on an oversight visit to its base in Abuja.

Represented by the fleet operations officer, Ahmed Dari, (AVM) Abubakar Abdullahi explained that in 2021, the fleet submitted a total budget of N18,767,393,235 but only N12,550,18,732 was approved in the Appropriation Act, while N10,907,642,492 was released as of December 2021.

Mr Dari said, “in 2022, the fleet proposed the sum of N19,479,313,645, but N12,476,607,142 was approved in the national budget. the total releases to the fleet as of November 2022 comprise 99.83 per cent of personnel cost, 94 percent of overhead, and 99.99 percent of capital cost amounting to the sum of N11.13 billion which is 98.07 percent of the total fund approved. For 2023, Dari noted that the fleet requires the sum of N15,522,357,626 out of which N438,571,562 was for personnel cost; N11,641,170,764 for overhead cost; while N3,442,615,300 is for capital expenditure.”

According to him, the shortfall in the overhead cost usually affects aircraft maintenance activities in the fleet while aircraft maintenance which accounts for 46 percent of the overall budget proposal is an integral part of the overhead cost.

some mandatory upgrades were carried out on a credit basis on the fleet’s longstanding relationship with maintenance companies while others have been moved to the year 2023 budget”.

Mr Dari stressed that the average age of the Presidential Air Fleet Aircraft was 11 years and in Aviation, Maintenance increases proportionately with the age of the aircraft.

He however, disclosed that the cost of maintaining each aircraft ranges between $1.5 million to $4.5 million depending on the level of maintenance, some aircraft in the presidential fleet require compulsory refurbishment.

The Chairman of the Committee, Mr Sha’aban Sharada, acknowledged that the lawmakers are aware of the constraints faced by the Presidential Air Fleet and gave assurance that efforts would be geared towards addressing the challenges.

Reporting by Ibrahim Shehu; editing by Julian Osamoto & Adeniyi Bakare