Nigerians have expressed outrage over the decision by the Nigerian Government to authorise the use of a jet from the presidential fleet to fly President Muhammadu Buhari's daughter, Hanan, on a private trip to Bauchi.
Recall that Hanan recently ordered the Department of State Services to unlawfully arrest and detain a Delta State-based businessman, Anthony Okolie, for 10 weeks after he legally purchased an MTN telephone line from a registered outlet in Asaba, the state capital.
The mobile number was previously owned and used by Hanan but later recycled for sale by the network provider after being dormant for a while.
After noticing that the number was in use elsewhere, the young lady, who is a graduate of Photography from Ravensbourne University, London, reported the matter to the DSS and ordered the arrest and detention of Okolie.
Failing several times to appear at the DSS office to give any statement to support her claims, the secret police eventually released the young businessman after 10 weeks in unlawful detention.
In the latest of the controversy to trail her, Hanan on Thursday attended an event to photograph a Durbar by Rilwanu Adamu, Emir of Bauchi, in one of the jets in the presidential fleet.
As a result of the act, Nigerians especially social media users have continued to rain hard knocks on Hanan and the Presidency for allowing her use a presidential jet for a private trip.
Under standard practice, only the President, First Lady, Vice-President, Senate President, Speaker, Chief Justice of Nigeria, former Presidents and a Presidential delegation are allowed to use the presidential jet.
Before wrestling power from the Peoples Democratic Party in 2015, the All Progressives Congress – dangling a mantra of change and a ‘blast from the past’ before Nigerians – promised to dispose some of the jets in the Presidential fleet due to the expensive nature of maintenance.
But despite those lofty promises, only two helicopters out of 10 were given to the Nigerian Air Force while two presidential aircrafts previously put up for sale had yet to be discarded as of 2018.
Under the 2020 national budget, around N8.5bn has been earmarked for maintenance of jets in the Presidential fleet.
Expressing displeasure at the use of one of the jets for a private trip by President Buhari’s daughter, a Twitter user, Young Otutu, said, “Lest we forget: The daughter of the president who promised not to allow unwarranted spending in governance, Hanan Buhari is busy flying Airforce 1 to go greet dignitaries and their wives with DSS securities, all on tax payers funds. Lest we forget.”
Another Twitter user identified as Dr Dbanj, said, “In what capacity is she being received at the airport? What kind of waste is this? If Npower could render so many generals jobless in these streets, yet this one flight could have kept them going for one month.
“Guess this was why we refused to sell any part of the fleet.”
Also enraged by the incident, @Kabir_kb1 said, “So, Hanan Buhari is now cruising with our Presidential jet.
“Though we were told in 2016 that there was a plan to sell them in order to reduce cost, but now his daughter, despite the fact that he's regarded as the "Man of Integrity" is using one of them.”
However, defending Hanan’s usage of the aircraft, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said that there was no big deal in the act.
According to him, President Buhari informed the National Security Adviser of the move before his daughter embarked on the trip to Bauchi.
He said, “It’s true that a member of the First Family was flown to Bauchi on a mission duly authorised. It wasn’t an impromptu or improper trip because it followed normal procedure.
“The Presidency informed the National Security Adviser of the mission who in turn informed the 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, the Senate President the Speaker and any other person(s) authorised by the President.”
But condemning the act, rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, said the use of the Presidential jet by Buhari’s daughter amounts to an abuse of office and a waste of resources.
He stated, “Buhari is only fooling himself and his supporters with this fake integrity.”