The Presidency on Thursday revealed the reason for President Muhammadu Buhari’s unannounced stopover in London three days after his meeting with United States President, Donald Trump at the White House.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and publicity, Garba Shehu, blamed the situation on the type of aircraft used by his principal for the trip which he said could not undertake the trip at a go.
He stated that the Eagle 001 jumbo craft which Buhari usually uses for his trip was undergoing routine maintenance, necessitating the use of a smaller aircraft for the journey.
According to him, “The big jet is under repair. It has been taken for major repairs. So the President is using a small plane and there is a limit to the distance the small plane can cover.
“So the technical stopover I talked about is that the journey from the US to Abuja is broken into two. Technical stopover is that the plane stops at a point, refuel, do some checks and then proceed on the journey.
“This is very normal. There is nothing unusual about it. In any case, they are already on their way back home.
“It is a routine thing. The plane can do Abuja-Washington, that’s about 12 hours and the maximum the plane can fly is 12 hours, 40minutes. But you don’t need to push it to the edge.”
But in its reaction, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, queried the presidency’s explanation, calling on
the Presidency to end their official secrecy and come clear on the reasons for Buhari’s purported ‘technical stopover’ in London.
The main opposition party, in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, invited Nigerians to note that the President left the United States 48 hours ago and embarked on an unofficial visit to the United Kingdom for undisclosed reasons without transmitting a letter to the National Assembly.
The party asserted that the action of the President is impunity and another constitutional breach.
It recalled that Buhari had on Tuesday left the United States, “where he had an embarrassing and fruitless outing and instead of returning to the country, detoured to the UK for another private visit without regard to full disclosure requirements of our constitution and laws”.
The statement continued, “Indeed, Nigerians are worried about the signal being sent out by this penchant for the secret itinerary, particularly, given the poor reputation and government transparency issues confronting our nation under the Buhari administration.
“The Presidency must understand that President Buhari is not a private citizen and as long as his upkeep and itinerary are sourced from our hard-earned resources, there must be full disclosure, as citizens deserve to know the purpose of the visit and the cost to our nation.
“This is especially as President Buhari’s foreign trips, which come at great costs, have not brought any gains to our country. Instead, the President has continued to de-market our nation in the international arena. The just concluded the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London, where he cast aspersion at our enterprising youths and failed to return with any dividend readily comes to mind.
“Furthermore, President Buhari’s admission at the Voice of America (VOA) that he was unable to reach an agreement with President Donald Trump on any matter of interest to Nigeria, during his US visit and that he has no future development agenda to validate his 2019 re-election bid, confirm our position that the Buhari administration has nothing to offer Nigerians.”
The PDP ended by advising the handlers of the President to adequately prepare him before international outings as well as ensure full disclosure on all his visits outside the country, since he embodies the image and integrity of the country.