|By Oyetunji Abioye|
One of the three presidential jets ordered by the Federal Government last year has arrived the country.
Sources close to Aso Rock told our correspondent that the jet, a Falcon 7X, arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja from France a week ago.
The aircraft which was manufactured by Dassault Aviation of France cost the government $51m (about N7.65bn.)
The Federal Executive Council had on August 12, 2010 approved $102m for the purchase of two Falcon 7x and $53.3m for one Gulfstream G550 aircraft to beef up the Presidential Air Fleet.
Our source added that the second Falcon 7X would arrive the country during the second quarter of the year.
Confirming the arrival of the first jet, a top official of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, who pleaded anonymity as the matter has to do with the Presidency, said the aircraft arrived last week.
He said the presidential crew flying the aircraft had been on a two-week training in France.
Some officials of the regulatory agency, who will keep safety regulatory oversight on the ultra-modern jet had also gone on training in France, the source added.
“The jet came in last week. In fact, before they brought it into the country, some officials of NCAA, including a regional manager, had gone to inspect the plane. The second Falcon 7X will arrive later,” he added.
In what is probably its first mission, the jet was said to have conveyed the the wife of President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, to Sokoto on Tuesday.
Sources in Sokoto confirmed that the jet, marked Nigerian Air Force 5N-FGU, was sighted at the Sa’ad Abubakar III Airport, Sokoto.
The two Falcon 7X aircraft are to be supplied by Messrs Dassault Aviation of France, while the Gulfstream G550 will come from Messrs Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation of the United States.
The Federal Government had expected the first Falcon 7X aircraft to arrive in Nigeria by the end of December and the second in the second quarter of 2011.
The Gulfstream G550 is also expected in the country by the second quarter of 2011.
The sum of N21bn was provided in the 2010 budget for the purchase of the three aircraft.
The former Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili, had told journalists in Abuja last year that the Federal Executive Council approved the purchase of the aircraft.
FEC had at the end of its November 25, 2009 meeting announced that the government had commenced a phased replacement of aircraft in the PAF.
The government explained that the decision to drop some of the eight aircraft in the PAF followed the discovery that they had become too expensive to maintain due to old age.