NNPC charter jet and matters arising (1)

(By Johnson Eze)

In order to attract more attention, sensationalism is being made of the amount of money that was probably expended in the whole project of using jet over a two-year span. The question is: Have we compared the financial or economic returns which the use of the jet has brought to the country within the same period with its cost? Have we thought of the losses that would have been incurred for the country by the operators had they not used jets to meet the timely requirements of the business?

IF there is something more precious for business executives than anything else, it is time. Like Benjamin Franklin rightly stated years back, “Lost time is never found again”. For optimum management of time, it is universally agreed that commercial airlines are not a really time efficient option for high profile businessmen and executives, like the key players in the Oil and Gas sector, since they have to travel constantly. If executives travel four-five times a week, even economic efficiency goes down. A much better option would be to go for a private jet in those cases. A private jet provides flexibility to fly wherever and whenever you want as there are many airports which are not served by commercial airlines. It also saves check in and checkout time, baggage checking and waiting time at airports.

   Furthermore, owning a private jet brings a lot of headache along with it. If you are not worrying about licensing, you have to make the private jet Stage 3 compliant if it is not already. You have to maintain the jet with regular checks by flight mechanics. You have to arrange for parking and security at airports. Besides, the costs of extra fuel, the crew, the pilot, space and maintenance can turn out to be a lot. If you do not travel way too often, all the overhead is not really worth the cost. Chartered jets are available at very short notice. You can usually get the jet of your choice with one call. In fact, you can look for discounts if you travel quite often. The luxury and time efficiency is completely there without the added responsibility.

  Thirdly, if one is not certain on how often one needs to travel, then a chartered jet is a far better option. If not used to full extent, the excessive investment of millions of dollars on a private jet is not worth it at all. You might even run into tax problems and extra insurance charges if you own a jet compared to using a chartered jet. A chartered jet is just like a commercial plane except that you will save a lot of time.

  With the aforementioned analysis, it becomes easy to appreciate the economic and operational reasons why Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), opted to charter jets for certain services of the organisation. But in spite the rationale behind chartering of the jets, which a majority of the stakeholders in the industry have actually come to terms with as being sensible in relation to industry exigencies, cynics and critics have continued to dwell on the subject with hyperbolic appeal. In order to attract more attention, sensationalism is being made of the amount of money that was probably expended in the whole project of using jet over a two-year span. The question is: Have we compared the financial or economic returns which the use of the jet has brought to the country within the same period with its cost? Have we thought of the losses that would have been incurred for the country by the operators had they not used jets to meet the timely requirements of the business?

  These and other questions call for answers as the dust, raised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) parliamentarian from Lagos State, Babatunde Adejare on the alleged wastage of N10 billion by NNPC for chartering of aircraft for the official and personal use of Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the past two years continues to generate ripples across every divides.  On its own, the management of the NNPC, in throwing light on the issues, has told Nigerians that chartering aircraft is a normal practice in local and international businesses.

  According to a press statement by the former acting Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division, Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, the corporation has not chartered any aircraft for the exclusive use of the minister or any particular official of the corporation. Contrary to the information being peddled in some quarters; Alison-Madueke has not chartered any aircraft for her personal use or the use of her family, stressing that the said charter was in consonance with the legal instrument which establishes the corporation as a commercial entity to engage in the oil and gas sector. The statement went on to say that NNPC, in the course of discharging its statutory and commercial functions, engages third parties for the provision of services outside of its core business.

   According to the statement, “This practice is common and acceptable in the local and international business environment in which it operates. More specifically, we would like to state as follows; there is nothing prohibiting NNPC from owning or chartering an aircraft. On the contrary, by the enabling legislation, NNPC is empowered to hold, manage and alienate moveable and immovable property and enter into contracts or partnerships with any company, form or persons which in the opinion of the corporation will facilitate the discharge of the said duties under this Act .(Please refer to Section 6 of the NNPC Act, Cap. N123, LFN 2004).

• To be continued.

• Eze wrote from Abuja.

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