Presidential Fleet: Cutting Nigeria’s Coat According to Her Cloth

Ben Murray-Bruce

Ben Murray-Bruce

On the 10th of May 2015, I tweeted the following “Left to me, we must sell the Presidential fleet. Public servants, including the President must only use made in Nigeria Peugeot as official car!”. I really believe what I tweeted and was overjoyed when the media reported that President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the sale of nine presidential jets. My joy was however cut short when the Presidency denied those reports and said the president had not taken such a decision. Nigeria may perhaps be the only country in the world without a national air carrier whose presidential fleet is larger than many airlines.

This was wasteful in the years of our oil boom, but in this current dispensation of reduced income from oil, it actually makes no sense to maintain the presidential air fleet. Recently, I tweeted that we should start compulsorily teaching our youths entrepreneurial skills from primary school through university and when they graduate they should spend their National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) years in an entrepreneurial finishing programme and upon satisfactorily completing of the programme each corps member should receive N5,000 in the form of a bank guarantee to pay for setting up a Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (SME).
A youth who liked the idea tweeted back at me and asked me how Nigeria could pay for this.

Well, Nigeria presently spends on average N5 billion (5.3 billion in the 2015 budget) to maintain the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF). This is not the value of the fleet. It is just the amount used to maintain the 11 planes in the fleet. This amount can be used to provide business start-up grants of over five N500,000 to 10,000 NYSC members. So, in answer to Okikiola Raymond @DonOkizle, who is the youth who asked me that question, Nigeria can pay for it with the money we are currently using to maintain our PAF and other wasteful expenditures.

We need a common sense revolution and though I know it is not practical, I almost wish President Buhari would appoint a minister for common sense!
Does it make sense that our presidential fleet is larger than that of the Queen of England?

Does it make sense that our president flies to a G-7 meeting to ask for financial and technical assistance in a presidential jet that is either as expensive or more expensive than the planes that conveyed some of the G-7 leaders to Germany? Nigeria has failed woefully to wean itself from oil and we really should begin taking drastic measures to wean ourselves otherwise we will suck mother Nigeria dry and then what! I always fly Arik to any destination I am headed. The only exception is where Arik does not fly that route.

Many people will be surprised to note that Aliko Dangote, the richest black man on planet earth, flies Arik just as I do. Yes, Arik has challenges, but those challenges are not insurmountable and they will be better able to surmount them if you and I patronise Arik. I do not have a single share in Arik, but I have stakeholder interests in Nigeria and Arik flies the Nigerian flag. When our big boys buy a British Airways ticket, they are helping to service the British economy and pay for salaries there. That money leaves Nigeria and circulates in England where it helps shore up the value of the British Pound Sterling.

Let me tell you of an experience I had. I once flew from Paris to Abuja (Arik doesn’t fly that route) on an Air France flight. An air hostess approached me and asked me to join their Frequent Flyer programme where upon I asked her if it was similar to British Airways’ programme. I was taken aback when she began appealing to me not to fly BA but stick to Air France. She brought her colleagues and they gave me gifts on board and ensured me they would look after me if I continued to fly Air France. This is the behaviour of people who love their country. They believe in her and sell her and promote her to others even where it does not bring any specific pecuniary interest to them.

I appeal to President Buhari to sell off our presidential jet and in addition to that he should consider issuing an Executive Order mandating all government officials to fly Nigerian airlines except in those cases where a Nigerian airline does not fly to the destination in which they are headed. President Buhari should take a cue from President Joyce Banda of Malawi who not only sold off that country’s presidential jet, but also sold off 60 Mercedes Benz limousines attached to her Presidency. So impressed was he by President Banda’s move that Andrew Mitchell, the UK International Development Secretary, immediately handed over 32 million pounds of British Aid to her government.

Malawi had only one presidential jet and 60 Mercedes Benz limousines. Nigeria currently has at least 11 presidential jets and hundreds of Mercedes Benz cars in her inventory. These are depreciating assets that add value to only a few people at the top. If we do the commonsensical thing and sell off these luxury items and apply the savings towards developing the entrepreneurial skills of our youths, we will spark off a revolution that will see our youths re-channelling their minds and energies away from Boko Haram terrorism, kidnapping, pipeline vandalism, Internet fraud into positive endeavours like enterprise and innovation.

Asked about her decision to sell off her presidential jet, Mrs Banda said “I can as well use private airlines. I am already used to hitchhiking”. That is a leader! She cuts her coat according to her nation’s cloth not according to its size. This is the best advice for Nigeria at this point in time. We can take it or we can continue to spend billions maintaining our Presidential Air Fleet!

Senator Murray Bruce is the senator representing Bayelsa East and is the Chairman of the Silverbird Entertainment Group

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42 replies

  1. I have never seen a politician like Ben Murray Bruce ever in this country. This is the kind of person that our nation needs. Positive minded being who always look after the Nigerians

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  2. This us a very good talk, am proud of Bruce.

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  3. Sir am really encouraged by this article that I can also become a nation changing politician, I was also wondering how Nigeria could pay youth corp members such amount and not run dry, thanks for educating me.

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  4. I like this…straight forward practical thinking. Sir, I have followed your activities right from the 90s and I have no doubt in your prowess. Well done for being so true to yourself and others. Well done!

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  5. Oh, is our dear country leaders listening to you, will they considered your positive thought? Sir you are the voice of the youth help us.

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  6. I believe strongly that Nigeria Economy is not as bad as it is being portrayed. All we need is serious minded people who are ready to offer the needed sacrifice required to revamp the economy. let the president know that his action in the next couple of month will tell if our economy will revive or not.

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  7. I am always happy anytime I read your comments on issues bothering our beloved nation. However, i thank God that you are in a better position today as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to present these issues to the President through the National Assembly. Like I, so many Nigerians are looking forward to see your Bills to the House of Assembly and how you would talk out your colleagues to supporting you. Remain Blessed, sir.

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  8. good advice..hope GMB will take this advice

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  9. Great to promote local services. Can’t say anything about Arik as I have never flew them before but will definitely give it a go next time if it’s available on my route. Having said that local companies also must step up to better customer service, if my ticket price is similar to the foreign airlines, I will expect similar treatment on board.

    But seriously, you think NYSC should continue? Why not bring back our technical schools in full swing so people could attend if they so wished from after secondary school – two years hands on is a lot more beneficial I think.

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  10. Well said Senator BMB……. I knew I never made a mistake adopting you as a role model and mentor even though we have not officially sat down for me to tap direct from you. Your Idea on Entrepreneurial start up is amazing as I am presently a budding entrepreneur who is struggling seriously with the issue of finance, sometimes I wish you were the one who sat in place of GEJ when South South had its fair share of opportunity to rule Nigeria.

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  11. The ministry of common sense is in pipeline as your thoughts are already igniting fire in some life.
    However as others have suggested the Calabash will give the point at which the rope will be tied.
    We are seriously looking forward to the right legislation that will bring about action and forward matching of the Nigeria Laws.
    Thanks for been in the forefront of good that will come to pass in this great Nation called NIGERIA.
    GOD BLESS NIGERIA.

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  12. The truth is that, it takes people integrity and morales to listen to common sense and interpret it physically. Another is, we don’t have politicians who are technocrats, rather we’ve politicians who are infected amnesia; because they don’t think on her to improve the economy, but only think for their pockets and children alone, that’s just the problem of this nation right from independence.

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  13. good one,don’t you think the government s trying to save cost of donbling n rumbling of it’s top officials’ can you please calculated d cost spend I flying overseas with the top officials? if , hw much? if No, “ask to be on the pix. thanks.

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  14. Vote common sense not change.

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  15. Another common sense from distinguished Senator,Ben Murray Bruce. Examplary leadership as demonstrated by Malawian president, Mrs Banda is exactly the behavior Nigerian president should exhibit; but you see, as people will say, “common sense no common at all “.With the 5billion Naira cost of maintaining the 11.planes in the presidential fleets, 33000 Nigerian youths will be provided with 150,000.00 naira business Starts-ups .But the leaders will not heed such advice, especially when they are used to life of luxury .Distinquished, I think you equally need to do something about the National Assembly budget, at least now that you are a senator of the Federal Republic ;sincerely 150billion is too much for so few in the National assembly. Am looking forward to seeing a bill from you my senator addressing this anomaly. God bless as you sponsor such bill.

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  16. It’s not enough to appreciate your comment, but to support the course of making Nigeria a developed country. We really have what it takes, we can do it. Now I believe that common saying that common sense is not common.

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  17. Waooo dear Mr Ben Bruce am ver proud to have u as a senator, how i wish we have few senators of like minds dis country will nver remain the same.. Please sir, do not relent. I am a strong believer in your common sense series. D cost of governance is so high dat if the r reduced, the proceeds can be used help so many jobless nigerians of which I am one. I am a graduate, lost my job last ear due to the economic situation of the counntry. I need is just little assistance to start my own business without depending on any one to employ me.

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  18. Wow, straight talk from a Nigerian. Maybe there is hope for Nigeria.

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  19. Thanks a million my distinguished senator. How I wish we have many of you in the national assembly. Sincerely speaking I don’t know what a country in such an economic dilemma is doing with the presidential fleet when British PM flies a commercial airline. Why do we have to import expensive cars for public and civil servants Instead of encouraging and developing the local automobile industries with its multiplier effects. I’ve once seen the British PM ride a bicycle to Parliament and was told he sometimes trek the short distance from his residence. Why are we so wasteful in Nigeria ? I pray that the President wake up to the challenges of governance and start cutting waste looking inward to encourage local production and diversification of the economy.

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  20. No doubt, u are a rare bred, an asset in our land…Nigeria. l have painstakingly read through your pieces of collectivities…they actually made a lot of common sense, devoid of partisanship.
    Just keep it up. They are very educative an inspuring.
    I wish to meet u.

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  21. This is simple common sense.
    And it the truth everybody knows.
    This country needs a total different direction.

    Even this so-called NYSC
    Has turned into a teaching practice.
    Is a shame.
    Even graudates who are not trained to teach
    Are force to class rooms.

    This one year programme should be a Technical training and
    Practical entrepreneur training for all youths.
    And also grants must be made available with a social security system
    Whereby to check corrution. Also followup mentoring assistance
    Should be in place.

    When a country truly empowers the youth..
    The future and economy of that country is assured.

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  22. Dear Lord, this is my first time on this site and am totally impressed. Do we still have leaders like this? Are there still minds full of common sense? Am so in awe sir. you are just what we need. I pray they adhere to your voice, am so confused as a citizen of this country. I wish the leaders of our country will help our youths to be focused than confuse us the more. Long live Ben Murray Bruce

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  23. Very hypocritical. Dangote owns private jets. Yes, flies British Airways from Lagos to London too. We’ve been on a BA flight together. You have and can make your point without hyperbole.

    To serious matters. Common sense should start from home, i.e., Bayelsa. What do you think of her development state? Bayelsa receives the highest per capita FAAC because of the derivation principle and still cannot pay her civil servants. You didn’t start this austerity campaign when the most wasteful regime under GEJ was in power. Why now? Were you in anyway a beneficiary of a major contract from Godswill Akpabio for luxury projects that drained Akwa Ibom of resources that could have been deployed towards the empowerment of the youths of that State? Talk is cheap.

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  24. This is a non-partisan article that our leaders should embrace for good governance. The luxury in our leaders had really short changed the growth of Nigeria and further impoverished her citizens, there’s no headway for our teeming youths other than to engage in criminal activities. Our leaders should bear in mind that whatever goes around comes around.

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  25. None of the politicians, who doesn’t know what Ben knows, the problem is, majority of them don’t have the love of Nigeria and Nigerians at heart; otherwise, why should there be congratulation galore each time anyone of them wins an election either through the ballot, or court judgements. They don’t ever see the offices as service to humanity, but service to enrich themselves and their cronies!

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  26. Awesome article, how I wish PMB can have a glance on it.

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  27. Your commn sense is indeed not common; that is what we also stand for in http://www.nydafrica.org; We preache #ShowSomeCare, #BuildTheNation @nydachat

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  28. I am an advocate of Common Sense Revolution. And I wish to have your book, COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION.

    I am from Oguta LGA in Imo State and I work with an insurance company in Port Harcourt. Let’s assume there’s a rail line linking my Owerri to Port Harcourt, I would prefer to operate from my home rather than use all my earnings to pay for rent.

    If this can be made possible the cities will be devoid of much traffic. What do we work? Build a good house, own one or two vehicles at most and train our children in good schools.

    I just wanna join you in the common sense revolution boat.

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  29. I was very astonished and happy when my
    electrician told me to buy Nigerian made cables
    to wire up my house, out of curiosity I ask him
    why Nigeria cable? He boldly said it is d best n
    most durable cable known all over d world. my
    joy since that day is dat at least there is some
    real good Nigeria made product, I used to
    patronised Eva soup each time I want to wash my
    clothes n since I notice Nigeria Eva soup I have
    nvr spend my money buying d foreign Eva soup
    which is even more expensive. one day all d
    shakara of d developed countries will count for
    nothing for a Nigerian n Europe n America, Asia n
    d rest will no longer b an Eldorado’s for a
    Nigerians. God bless d Federal Republic of
    Nigeria.

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  30. please keep on the good work of telling our leaders the truth, one day God will touch their minds.

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  31. Prof Ben am in your lecture Room of commonsense and I enjoy every bit of it.I hope our leaders and every Nigeria will learn from these mind blowing class. Though I know that common sense is not common in this our country. But some thing that is very common is greed and selffisheness. That is all our leaders known. They may be RICH in CASH but poor at HEART,( COMMON SENSE)).

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  32. Prof Ben am in your lecture Room of commonsense and I enjoy every bit of it.I hope our leaders and every Nigeria will learn from these mind blowing class. Though I know that common sense is not common in this our country. But some thing that is very common is greed and selffisheness. That is all our leaders known. They may be RICH in CASH but poor at HEART,( COMMON SENSE)).

    Like

  33. I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU BECOME THE PRESIDENT OF THIS COUNTRY SIR …I JUST WANT to make common sense sir

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  34. The common sense senetor, one whose intention is to better the life of Nigerians, the zeal to change Nigeria is always burning in you even though you are not the so-called change agent,each time I read any of your articles I am always encouraged to do the right thing,and pray for common sense,for common sense is not common.Thanks and God bless you…

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  35. I did’nt know that we still have this kind of person in Nigeria and a senetor for that matter.Please sir God will contuine to direct you for standing up for the massas

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  36. Thanks my Distinguished for the love of country! Please how can this message be downloaded?

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  37. The man with the revolutionary ideas we (Nigerian) has been glamour ing for, The Lord God will be ur strength and protection in all ur daily, now ad then endeavours, Amen. Happy birthday to you Sen. Ben Murray Bruce in arrears sir.

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  38. Beautiful, if we can start using made in Nigeria our Naira will add to value and also our country will b useful and know not only by oil…. let eat made in Nigeria rice like we eat yam and other food…. let start dis within our local community I believe with dis idea b4 2018 Nigeria economy will grow… how I wish other leaders can follow dis ideal up too.. Daddy I pry for you God the Father, God the Son and God the only Spirit will show you more love, and His presence will always b with u….. ( amen) 007recordz wish u well

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  39. I used to love your “common sense post” and through they are all common sense…. I would love to ask if you have a organisation already for instance A well structured ” Ben Bruce movement” that people who shares the same interest such as me can key in and join to preach #commonsense in order to promote positive changes….
    I will like to know if such medium is available… of not please create it holistically. I would love to be a part of it.
    To the development of Nigeria
    God bless you more

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  40. Thank you, my most highly esteemed senator for educating Nigeria youth with your COMMON SENSE ideology . My question is why should we lobe our senators to implement your common sense idea you shared on April 11th 2016

    Like

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