Presidential Fleet: Nigeria’s President Has 10 Planes; Leaders of Britain, Singapore Have None...By Eric Teniola


This piece was first published in Vanguard on April 28, 2015, by Eric Teniola who is a former Director in The Presidency and lives in Lagos UNTIL 1999, the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) was under the control and supervision of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).

Before then, senior Air Force officers, in their grey-upon-blue well-ironed uniforms, were seen on the eleventh floor of the Federal Secretariat which was then the office of the SGF, hanging around.

The argument was that since the Chief of Staff was the head of the staff attached to the President and since he was aware of the hourly movement of the President, he was in a better position to control the fleet adequately.

I understand the fleet is now under the National Security Adviser.

Before 1999, the fleet was almost dormant for lack of use.

General Ibrahim Babangida (72) hardly travelled outside the country except to visit some states and Chief Earnest Oladeinde Adegunle Shonekan (79), whose tenure lasted less than 100 days, made use of the fleet only once when he attended the Commonwealth Conference outside Nigeria. The second time he used the fleet was when he was overthrown and brought down to Lagos in company of Chief Dapo Sarumi.

General Sani Abacha hardly travelled outside Abuja.

In fact, during his era, pilots attached to the Presidential Fleet complained of under utilisation, raising fears that they might lose their licenses for not flying enough.

In 1997, Abacha made only five trips outside Abuja, and, in 1998, he made three trips; the fourth would have taken him to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso on June 8, 1998 for the African Union Conference, the very day he died.

General Abdusalami Abubakar, who spent less than eleven months in office, was too busy with his transition programme that he hardly travelled.

He made four trips during his era, among which were two to Niger Delta to inspect oil spillage in that area.

Flying President

As for President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Jagunmolu of Egbaland, he was a flying President. Even till date, when the Presidential Fleet is outside his control, he is still flying around the world.

He loves to fly. That is the way he is. And the pilots attached to the Presidential Fleet loved him for that.

The Presidential Fleet remains today the most important posting in the Nigerian Air Force.

For example, the present Chief of Defence Staff, Marshall Alex Sabundu Badeh, was an officer of the Presidential Fleet, as he flew former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar between 1999 and 2007 severally.

Even the present Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Nunayun Amosu, was an officer of the Nigeria Presidential Air Fleet too.

The fleet is among those with the largest number aircraft in the world in comparison to other countries.

Who has what?

The British Prime Minister has no presidential aircraft.

Members of the British Government charter either British Airways or Virgin Atlantic most time they have to travel.

The government of Tunisia operates a Boeing 737 BBJ.

An Airbus A340-500 has also been purchased and VIP configured, but was never used for travel and has been stored since 2011 revolution that ousted former dictator Ben Ali.

The Tunisian government is reportedly trying to sell both aircraft.


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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