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Senate denies approval of new jets for president, vice president

Senate President Dismisses Reports as Malicious Amidst Economic Challenges

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Senate President Godswill Akpabio refuted claims on Tuesday that the Senate had sanctioned the purchase of new presidential jets for President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima.

Akpabio labelled the reports as malicious, asserting that they falsely quoted him saying the National Assembly would endorse the acquisition of new aircraft regardless of the country’s economic hardships.

These allegations surfaced following a recommendation by the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence, suggesting new aircraft for the President and Vice-President due to the current presidential jets being deemed faulty and unsafe.

Last week, President Tinubu travelled to South Africa for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inauguration using a private jet. The Presidency defended the necessity of procuring new presidential aircraft, countering criticism from Peter Obi, the 2023 Labour Party presidential candidate, who criticised the plan as misguided and insensitive.

Presidential spokesperson Bayo Onanuga swiftly rebuffed Obi’s remarks, questioning if he preferred the President to risk flying in defective planes. “Does he (Obi) want him (Tinubu) to continue moving around in a rickety plane and die like the VP of Malawi and Iran President? Let him tell us. This is a basic thing any sane government will do. You can’t toy with your President’s welfare,” Onanuga stated.

Akpabio, in a statement issued by his media aide Jackson Udom, denied any National Assembly approval for new aircraft purchases. Speaking to journalists in Maiduguri, Borno State, after leading a delegation on a condolence visit to Senator Tahir Monguno over his father’s death, Akpabio clarified his stance.

“I want to dispel the rumour that you are hearing that the Senate President said he would buy a new plane for the President and his Vice, irrespective of the fact that Nigerians are hungry or whatever. I never said that. I was actually in Zanzibar, Tanzania. It is the handiwork of propagandists and fifth columnists, who never see anything good in what we are doing,” Akpabio said.

He urged Nigerians to pray for the government and assured them of the administration’s commitment to bringing prosperity. Akpabio also expressed satisfaction with the security situation in Borno State, attributing the peace to President Tinubu’s efforts.

“I am happy to see that peace has returned to Borno, as a result of the hard work of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I want to tell the good people of Borno to continue to support the administration,” he concluded.

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