Shettima’s plane developed faults after one hour in air— Lawmaker

Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Ahmed Satomi, revealed that Vice President Kashim Shettima was already airborne for an hour when the aircraft carrying him to the United States, where he was scheduled to represent President Bola Tinubu at the 2024 US-Africa Business Summit, developed a fault.

He stated that the aircraft carrying the second-highest-ranking citizen was forced to return to Abuja, deeming the incident an embarrassment to the country.

He announced that the lower chamber would summon the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, to explain the circumstances surrounding the incident to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

Satomi, a member representing Here Federal Constituency, Borno, made this disclosure while briefing journalists after his motion on the need to investigate the presidential air fleet was postponed during the plenary on Wednesday.

Last week, the presidency stated in a release that the vice president, originally scheduled to represent the president, was unable to make the trip due to a technical fault with his aircraft, which led to a detour on the advice of the Presidential Air Fleet.

In his motion of urgent public importance, Satomi noted that in April, President Bola Tinubu had to fly in a chartered plane from the Netherlands to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to attend the World Economic Forum.

He added that Vice President Kashim Shettima had similarly used a chartered jet recently as the presidential jets were undergoing repairs.

He insisted that such incidents were national embarrassments despite billions of naira budgeted yearly to maintain the air fleets.

Supporting Satomi’s submission, Ali Isah, a member representing Balanga/Billiri Federal Constituency, Gombe State, maintained that the development should give President Tinubu an opportunity to travel by road to understand the state of road infrastructure across the country.

He said, “I think this will afford our President and other leaders the opportunity to travel by road and appreciate the state of our roads.

“This happens all the time in some countries around the world.”

Isah’s proposal did not sit well with Deputy Speaker Benjamin Kalu, who presided over Wednesday’s plenary.

“Are you suggesting that Mr. President, the country’s leader, should travel around by road?” he asked rhetorically amid support from All Progressives Congress lawmakers.

Also supporting Isah’s position, the Minority Leader of the House, Kingsley Chinda, argued that “In Britain, the Prime Minister flies British Airways. I don’t see anything wrong with a public officer using commercial transportation.”

Chinda also stated that bringing the motion to the floor of the House was unnecessary as it is the duty of the relevant committee to proceed with the investigation without necessarily bringing it to the floor of the House.

The Deputy Speaker, however, concurred, stating that it was indeed unnecessary to bring the motion before the whole House as it was within the duty of the relevant committee to investigate the incident if it deems it fit. He therefore called for the motion to be postponed.

Briefing journalists after the plenary, he said he postponed the motion because his committee already has the power to summon the National Security Adviser (NSA).

He stated: “I didn’t postpone the motion because it lacks merit or support; it is because I have the power to summon the NSA and the Commandant of the Presidential Air Fleet, which is the prayer in that motion for them to explain. The Vice President was one-hour airborne last week when the aircraft developed a problem and had to turn back. As I speak to you this morning, he used a commercial flight to Kebbi, and the aircraft belongs to an individual.

“That aircraft belongs to the country; that’s why the presidential jet is called ‘Airforce One.’ So, therefore, it is a shame!

“When Mr. President wanted to leave from Riyadh to the United Kingdom, he used a chartered plane. In the 21st century? No! Not Nigeria! Let’s be serious, please. Our flight defines our capacity; believe it, and we have appropriated enough funds, to my understanding, for them to maintain these aircraft. So, that’s why I say the NSA should come, and I want it to be public when he arrives. What is happening? We have all that it takes as a country, not only to maintain the aircraft.”

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