The Presidency says wife and children of President Muhammadu Buhari have the right to use the Presidential jet when they need to.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, said this in a message sent to The PUNCH on Saturday.
Shehu was reacting to criticisms from some Nigerians over the decision of the President to allow his daughter, Hanan, to use the Presidential jet to attend a private function in Bauchi on Thursday.
The President’s spokesman said Hanan received approval from her father who in turn informed National Security Adviser.
Shehu said, “It’s true that a member of the First Family was flown to Bauchi yesterday on a mission duly authorised. It wasn’t an impromptu or improper trip because it followed normal procedure. The Presidency informed National Security Adviser of the mission who in turn informed 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, Senate President, Speaker and any other person(s) authorised by the President.”
A debate has been raging on social media following the decision of the President to allow his daughter to use the Presidential jet for a personal engagement.
This is despite complaints by Nigerians that the budget of N8.5 billion for the Presidential jets in the 2020 budget is too high.
Hanan, according to Daily Nigerian, was conveyed by the Presidential jet to attend the Durbar in Bauchi on Thursday.
The President’s daughter, who recently graduated with a first-class in Photography from Ravensbourne University, London, was said to have been invited by Emir of Bauchi, Mr Rilwanu Adamu, as a special guest of honour.
In photographs which have since gone viral on social media, Hanan could be seen disembarking from the plane and being welcomed by Bauchi State officials.
It was gathered that the durbar was specially organised to avail the President’s daughter of the opportunity to take photographs of the traditional durbar, Bauchi architecture and other cultural sites in the state.
As a professional photographer, Miss Buhari is expected to document her experiences in pictorial form in her gallery.
The incident has since sparked a debate on social media.
Pro-transparency activist, Mr Inibehe Effiong, described the use of the Presidential jet by Buhari’s daughter as an abuse of office and a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“Buhari is only fooling himself and his supporters with this fake integrity,” he added.
Some Buhari supporters, however, said there was nothing wrong with the President allowing his daughter to use the Presidential jet.
Recall that Buhari had before becoming President, criticised past governments for misusing public funds.
All Progressives Congress, the president’s party, had promised to sell off some of the jets in the Presidential fleet due to the high cost of maintenance.
However, only two helicopters out of the fleet of 10 were donated to Nigerian Air Force while two presidential aircraft, a Falcon 7X executive jet and Hawker 4000, that were advertised for sale in October 2016, are yet to be sold.