Nine serving governors have so far squandered millions of naira to charter private jets to move around the country to advance their presidential ambitions, a Daily Trust analysis has revealed.
Ahead of the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), presidential aspirants including the nine serving governors have been travelling across the 36 states and FCT to woo delegates.
According to reports, there are 38 presidential aspirants in both APC and PDP including the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, among others.
While all the aspirants have been travelling across the country in chartered aircraft, the spending of the nine serving governors has attracted public attention and scrutiny.
The governors, who are aspiring for the presidency, include Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom), Ben Ayade (Cross River), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa) and Yahaya Bello (Kogi).
Of the nine governors, only Bala Mohammed is serving his first term, the rest are completing their second term in office.
Reports revealed that government activities are being relegated to the background in some of the states as the governors are preoccupied in their presidential campaigns with allegations that they are using state resources.
Cost of hiring jets
At the moment, a private jet charter costs between $7,000 (over N4m at 580/$) to $10,000 (N5.8m) per hour depending on the size of the plane.
An operator says it could be higher when one requests for a bigger luxury jet, which could carry up to 11 passengers like Challenger or Beechcraft Hawker with up to 13 passenger capacity.
In addition, a charter Embraer ERJ 145 for instance, with a 50-passenger capacity, could even cost more depending on the number of waiting hours at the destination airport.
Also, it was gathered that in line with the industry requirement, the private jet operators charge 3,000 dollars per hour, depending on the airline after landing at the airport.
“If it is a two-leg trip – to and fro, you will pay 3,000 dollars per hour as landing and parking charges. It would start reading after the first three hours. The charges vary from airlines,” an aviation expert said.
Boom in the industry
A private jet operator who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity said that there is a boost in demand for private jets.
Ibrahim Aliyu, a security expert said most of the governors could not travel by road to any of the states in the country because of insecurity hence their resort to traveling by air.
“It will be suicidal for the politically-exposed persons to embark on journeys by road and so, they rather use the privileges at their disposal and criss-cross Nigeria by air.
“As you can see, some of the aspirants handling non-executive positions had to drop their ambitions when President Buhari asked them to resign. The reason is simple- they would no longer have access to unlimited resources to foot the bills of rigorous campaigns,” he said.
Daily Trust learnt that there has been a marginal increase in the cost of aircraft charter following inflation and the high cost of operation, hence additional spending by those who prefer air travel. One of the factors that have driven the increase in the cost of charters is aviation fuel, which has virtually quadrupled.
Despite this, that segment of the aviation business continues to boom even as more airlines join the business recently.
It would be recalled that a start-up airline, Xejet Aviation, recently commenced operation to provide only business class passengers.
Aviation analyst, Group Capt. John Ojikutu in a chat with our correspondent said though private charter services are unscheduled flights, they contribute to the aeronautical revenue of the airport authorities.
“Theirs are unscheduled flights but they pay charges on navigational and air traffic services, landing and parking for day and night at different charges and handling charges. All these are additional revenue earnings for the various aviation services.
“Yes, their flights can increase the unscheduled air traffic movements by about 50 per cent or more and therefore the revenues of the service providers,” he said.
Wike, Tambuwal compete for trips
Analysis of reported trips of the governors as at yesterday showed that Governor Wike has visited 20 states including Kaduna, Edo, Kogi, Lagos, Katsina, Kano, Ekiti, Ondo and Cross River all by air using private jets.
It is however not clear whether he is chattering the planes or using those belonging to Rivers State.
“There is no difference between using a chartered aircraft or the one belonging to the state,” said Sadiq Sabo, a political pundit.
“The point is that it is wrong to use state resources in terms of equipment or otherwise to facilitate personal endeavours,” he said. The Rivers State governor who is eyeing the presidential ticket of the PDP has also visited Ebonyi, Adamawa, Plateau, Anambra, Niger, Imo, Ogun, Oyo, Bayelsa, Benue and Kebbi states using private jets.
Like his Rivers State counterpart, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State has visited 20 states.
Tambuwal, who is also eyeing the PDP presidential ticket has been to Taraba, Borno, Yobe, Kogi, Niger, Gombe, Kaduna and Zamfara States.
The Sokoto governor has also flown to Plateau, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo, Nasarawa, Kebbi, Kogi, FCT, Ogun and Osun States.
Fayemi’s 16 trips gulp millions
On his part, the Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, has visited 16 states in the course of his presidential campaigns. Fayemi, who chairs the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), wants to pick the presidential ticket of the APC.
The states visited by Fayemi are; Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba, Kano, Nasarawa, Benue, Kebbi, Sokoto, Rivers, Anambra, Ogun, Osun and Ondo.
Bala Mohammed’s visit to 12 states
Coming next to Fayemi, is the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed. Unlike Fayemi, Mohammed is eyeing the ticket of the PDP. Despite the fact that he is a first term governor, he is deeply engrossed in his presidential ambition.
States visited by the Bauchi governor, who is said to have also picked the governorship forms of the PDP include; FCT, Anambra, Enugu, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Oyo, Kaduna, Niger, Jigawa, Taraba and Katsina.
Udom was in six states
So far, the Akwa Ibom Governor, Emmanuel Udom, has visited six states including Plateau, Katsina, Edo, Oyo, Cross River and Gombe. He is one of the 15 contenders cleared for the PDP presidential primaries.
No media tally on Ayade, Badaru, Bello, Umahi’s trips
Daily Trust could not establish the number of trips embarked upon by the Cross River, Jigawa, Kogi and Ebonyi States governors.