By Johnson Eze
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. But, if executives would have to travel 4 -5 times a week, even economic efficiency goes down. A much better option would be to go for a private jet in those cases. Then, 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.
However, 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 on airports. Also, 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. And 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.
It is therefore easy to appreciate the economic and operational reasons why Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) opted to charter jets for certain services of the organization. But in spite the rationale behind chartering of the jets, which 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 continue to dwell on the subject with hyperbolic appeal. Perhaps, it is in order to attract more attention, sensationalism is being made of the amount of money that was probably expended in whole project of using jet over a two year span. And 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?
Notwithstanding, these above and other questions beg for answers as the dust raised by the All Progressive Congress (APC) parliamentarian from Lagos state, Hon. Babatunde Adejare, on the alleged wastage of 10 billion naira by NNPC for chartering of aircraft for the official and personal use of minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison in the past two years continues to generate ripples across every divides.
On its own, the management of the NNPC in throwing light to the issues has told Nigerians that Chartering aircraft is a normal practice in local and international businesses. According to a to a statement by the former Acting Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division of Corporation , Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, said contrary to the information being peddled is some quarters; the NNPC has not chartered any aircraft for the exclusive use of the Minister of Petroleum Resources or any particular official of the Corporation. He stressed that Mrs. Alison Madueke did not chartered any aircraft for her personal use or the use of her family, as 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. He maintained 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.
But, the House of Representative is probing the alleged 10 billion naira spent by NNPC in chartering aircraft for the minister of Petroleum Resources who also double as the Board Chairperson of the corporation for her official and personal trips as the house alleged. And they want her out of office so that the angel they will recommend who will not make use of chartered flight in the cause of his or her official duties should be appointed.
By and large, the questions that remained unanswered as this probe progresses is whether the previous ministers also enjoyed the services of a chartered aircraft in the cause of their day to day activities while in office? At what point did NNPC start using chartered aircraft in their business activities? Did former ministers Rilwan Lukman, Jubril Aminu, Don Etiebet, Dan Etete use chartered aircraft during their time. If yes how much did they spent each in chartering aircraft? I think the best thing the legislators should concern themselves with is speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which is pending before them for too long and leave the corporation and the minister alone to do their job.
Johnson Eze via firstname.lastname@example.org