[The Presidential Blog] We are constrained to ask Garba Shehu one question and one question only

Dear good sir, do you have any idea how much the £ is to a Naira?

Having read Mr Garba Shehu’s latest gaffe of a press statement, there’s no way that question was not going to come up. Someone had warned us not to read it. That Mr Shehu’s statement, in the grand scheme of things, and more specifically to the point of the issue that it addresses – the outrageous parking of a Presidential Jet in the UK – does not amount to much.

But we did not listen. Because we just want to understand everything. So we read it. We invite you to do a quick read as well (we have highlighted the most important bits):

STATE HOUSE PRESS STATEMENT
NAF 001, PRESIDENTIAL AIRCRAFT IS AT THE SERVICE OF THE PRESIDENT – GARBA SHEHU

The Presidency is constrained to decry criticisms, mostly on social media, on the retention in London of the Presidential Aircraft, NAF 001 as mostly informed by lack of understanding of protocol around foreign trips by Heads of State all over the world.
It is important to state that for reasons of protocol, national security, diplomacy and prestige, there is no world leader who travels abroad and is left without plans for immediate return or possible evacuation.
From operational point of view, this country’s Armed Forces as represented by the Nigeria Air Force are not to abandon their Commander-In-Chief in whichever circumstance he is. This is a standard operating procedure.
We have also read claims about outrageous fees allegedly paid by Nigeria. The published amounts are totally untrue. Aircraft conveying heads of state all over the world usually enjoy waivers even where payments for parking are differentiated by aircraft categories.
We have been assured that where the waiver is not granted, payment will not exceed £1,000, which is a quarter of the amount being peddled.
For the avoidance of doubt, this President is not the first to have a presidential aircraft standing by for him, as he will certainly not be the last. All past Heads of this country have had this privilege, and the part that surprises the most is that leaders who in the past travelled with three Nigerian aircraft did not suffer this trenchant criticism.
We appeal to Nigerians to ignore opposition campaign aimed at derailing this administration’s big plans for the country.
This is a government that is constructing the Second Niger Bridge, the Mambila Power Plant, the East-West and the North-South standard gauge railway lines.
We are a government that has saved this country an annual loss of two trillion Naira from fraudulent petroleum subsidy schemes by influential citizens and their children, and rid the public service of about 50,000 ghost workers.
The Buhari administration certainly deserves a chance.

GARBA SHEHU
Special Senior Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
June 29, 2017.

Our analysis:

It is somewhat understandable that Mr Shehu feels “constrained” to do his job. Who wouldn’t feel constrained to do any job that demands this level of damage control. Only Kellyanne Conway was ordained by God for that kind of stress (and even she appreciates the value of taking long silences).

It is also understandable that the recent spate of terror in England – where the President chose to go on an indefinite medical vacation – has made it imperative on the Presidency to make the proactive call to leave a jet on standby in case there’s a sudden need for his “immediate return or possible evacuation”. We want for them to return a dead or badly incapacitated President after the long wait now, would we? And in any case, why complain when every world leader does the same thing right? #StandardOperatingProcedure.

Right… so Mr Shehu could have stopped there

But of course, he didn’t. He had to stick it up to the critiques. He had to let us know that despite his own implicit admission to not knowing the exact amount of the “outrageous fees allegedly paid by Nigeria” to keep the jet on standby, the alleged fees are “totally untrue”.

That because the UK is not mean to us and they have granted a waiver to the President, and allowed him to park his jet for only less than a quarter of what is being speculated – £1000. How kind right!

Except that you know that a pound to the Naira is approximately 461 Naira and that makes £1000 approximately NGN 461,000.

And except the media aide means to tell us that he was also assured that this is not a daily charge, waiver or no waiver, then that put’s the fee at NGN 25,355, 000. For parking!

But then, this is a government that has saved this country an annual loss of two trillion Naira and is even so kind to be constructing the Second Niger Bridge, the Mambila Power Plant, the East-West and the North-South standard gauge railway lines and ON TOP OF THAT, is a government that is reasonable enough not to have sent one President outside the country with three Nigerian aircrafts.

So of course, its 112 million people of its 191 million population that live under the poverty line and the 29 million unemployed youth population had better be grateful that this oh-so-gracious government has only chosen to spend 25.35 million Naira of the annual 2 trillion it has saved them so far on parking in 55 days.

Thanks good sir Garba, the ungrateful people of Nigeria (a.k.a the opposition campaign) have become grateful after reading your press statement.

Good job, sir!

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