Political office holders in the country, especially governors and ministers have embraced a new way of flying in state-of-the-art private jets to destinations within the country and overseas without necessarily owning them, findings have shown.
The new private jet ownership model called time-share lease, which is fast gaining ground among the political elites, has seen over 30 private jets in the country, carrying mostly ministers, governors and top government and private sector shots, exclusively.
“They are many things that these our government officials are doing that are harmful to our economy; that is why we see a situation where a lot of projects are left undone, or left midway without completion.
“For instance, the number of private jets operating in the country is too much, and the maintenance of these jets is biting deep into the nation’s purse.
“The fact is that if these government officials are leasing these planes from foreigners and are using their personal funds to maintain them, it is bad for the economy; and if they are using government’s money, then it means they are depriving the citizens of the country and using it for their pleasure.”
Investigations by The Punch revealed that some European companies and a few Nigerian private jet firms were behind the time-share private jet lease business model.
It was learnt they introduced the model to the country to enable them make money from the political class.
Time-share private jet lease, also called fractional jet ownership, provides individuals and corporations a way of enjoying the benefits of a private jet anytime they want it.
The fear of scandal and fraud allegation as a result of the outright ownership of private jets had made serving ministers and other top men in the Presidency to embrace the time-share lease arrangement.
A top aviation official explained, “What European companies and some few Nigerian private jet companies are doing now is to engage in time-share private jet lease agreement with members of the political class, especially minister and governors.
“Through this time-share lease arrangement, many ministers and governors now have access to the use of private jets, as much as they want without necessarily buying or owning them. It is a smarter way to save them from scandals and fraud allegations that may greet the outright purchase of a jet by political office holders.”
The official further said, “Some of them buy as much as 15 hours or more in a month. For example, some buy 15 hours a month for six months; this equals to 90 hours. They make that payment at once. In a year, some pay as much as $500,000 or $1m.
“The companies ask for their schedule and make the jets available to them regularly. This is the kind of deal the private jet companies are closing with some ministers and governors to enable them make use of the private jets regularly without actually owning them.”
The private jets firm had been making millions of dollars from ministers, governors and top political actors in the country through this arrangement, while the people they are elected to serve struggle to feed themselves.
The revelation came on the heels of recent reports that a serving minister, who is believed to be close to the Presidency, had spent millions of dollars in the last two years flying a Bombardier Challenger 850 plane.
The said Minister is a woman and she is powerful in the Goodluck Jonathan government. Sorry, Nigerians!