The budgetary proposals for the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) have gone up by over 190 per cent in the last four years, a PREMIUM TIMES’ analysis has shown.
According to details of the 2021 budget proposal, the government proposes to spend N12.5 billion (12,550,018,897) on the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF). This consists of N3.9 billion (3,934,390,091) for overhead and N8 billion (8,175,622,044) capital allocation.
The new figure is 190.6 per cent higher than the N4.37 billion appropriation in the 2017 budget, which consisted of N3.97 billion for recurrent and N399.5 million for capital projects.
The president proposed N13.08 trillion expenditure for 2021, while raising concerns about the nation’s debt and revenue challenges.
Based on some fiscal assumptions and parameters, Mr Buhari said that total federally distributable revenue is estimated at N8.433 trillion in 2021 while the total revenue available to fund the 2021 federal budget is estimated at N7.886 trillion.
This includes grants and aid of N354.85 billion as well as the revenues of 60 government-owned enterprises.
The deficit, Mr Buhari said, will be financed mainly by new borrowings totalling N4.28 trillion, N205.15 billion from privatisation proceeds, and N709.69 billion in drawdowns on multilateral and bilateral loans secured for specific projects and programmes.
However, compared to the N8.51 billion allocation for PAF in the 2020 budget, the government proposes to spend more on the presidential air fleet in 2021.
PREMIUM TIMES’ analysis of the budgetary details on PAF revealed that N440 million (440,006,762) would be spent on personnel, consisting of salary, wages, social contributions. and related expenses.
Similarly, local as well as international travels and training will gulp N461 million (461,306,000), the proposal showed.
Allocation for utilities will gulp N168 million (168,787,359), which consists of electricity, sewage, water, telephone charges (N10 million) and internet access (N18 million).
On materials and supplies, office stationeries, books and newspapers will gulp N5 million, N3 million and N1.2 million, respectively. Similarly, foodstuff and catering material supplies would gulp N160 million.
General maintenance of motor vehicles, office furniture, IT equipment, plant/generators and others would gulp N1.6 billion while training, both local and international, would gulp N326 million.
A line item tagged “security vote (including operation)” would gulp N260 million while cleaning and fumigation would gulp N5 million.
The N467 million (467,860,000) was proposed for oil and lubricants while financial charges would gulp N264 million (264,150,000).
N184 million (184,025,000) was allocated for miscellaneous expenses, within which N38 million (38,000,000) was allocated for refreshment and meals.
Since 2017, PREMIUM TIMES’ analysis has shown that budgetary proposals for the presidential air fleet have continued to rise, despite the nation’s shrinking revenue and turbulent economic climate.
The sum of N4.37 billion was proposed in the 2017 budget, which consisted of N3.97 billion for recurrent and N399.5 million for capital projects.
In the 2018 budgetary proposal, the figure rose as N7.26 billion appropriation was put forward for PAF in the 2018 budget, with N4.3 billion for recurrent expenditure and N2.8 billion for capital expenditure.
In 2019, the Nigerian government proposed to spend N7.30 billion (7,297,022,065) on the PAF, a figure a little higher than in 2018.
In 2020, the government increased the proposed allocation to N8.51 billion (8,517,022,065), with a recurrent appropriation of N4,360,896,853 and N4,156,125,212 capital appropriation.
For the 2021 budgetary proposal, the government has since raised the appropriation figure to N12.5 billion, representing a 47 per cent increase from the last allocation.
Increased Allocation to PAF amid mounting debt
There have been concerns about how Nigeria plans to fund its budget amidst shrinking revenue and unstable oil prices in the international market.
Last October, while presenting the budget to the National Assembly, Mr Buhari emphasised the effect of poor earnings on budget performance.
“Let me emphasise that revenue generation remains our major challenge,” he told federal lawmakers in Abuja.
“Nevertheless, the government is determined to tackle the persisting problems with domestic resource mobilisation, as there is a limit to deficit financing through borrowing. The time has come for us to maintain a healthy balance between meeting our growing expenditure commitments and our long-term public financial health.”
Since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, Nigeria has been under immense pressure to maintain fiscal stability amid collapsing oil revenues.
As rising debt continues to put a lot of pressure on government’s earnings and performance, analysts opine that there was no better time to cut down on waste and improve budgetary appropriation than now.
When President Muhamadu Buhari came on board in 2015, he promised to cut down on the waste of public resources and assured Nigerians his administration would cut down on the number of aircraft (on the PAF) inherited from former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The PAF is widely considered the second-largest airline in the country, after Nigeria’s biggest but now troubled airline, Arik Air. For years, maintenance of the PAF has remained a controversial subject, as many Nigerians considered the fleet a waste of scarce resources.
The Jonathan government was heavily criticised for its failure to cut down on the number of aircraft in the PAF.
In November 2015, presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said there were 10 aircraft in the fleet. They included two each of Augusta 149, Augusta 101 and Falcon 7X, as well as one each of HS 4000, G500, G550 and 737 BBJ series.
By October 2016, the Buhari administration advertised the sale of two of the aircraft – a Falcon 7X executive jet and Hawker 4000. The proposed sale was however scuttled by negotiations, officials said at the time.
When contacted for details of the proposed sale at the time, Mr Shehu told PREMIUM TIMES that the sale of the Falcon and the Hawker was still to be concluded.
“The bids are being reviewed by both sides. One thing I want to assure Nigerians is that the present administration is determined to secure the country’s best interest in a market that is sounding hawkish,” he said.
Nothing has been heard of the proposed sale ever since.
When PREMIUM TIMES reached out to Mr Shehu on Wednesday, he did not reply to a text message nor answer his telephone line.
(This report is part of the fulfilment for the ATUPA fellowship by Civic Hive in collaboration with the U.S Embassy).