Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has joined angry Nigerians in condemning what he called the “privatisation of the presidency of Nigeria.”
Falana in a statement he issued on Sunday condemned what President Buhari did in allowing his daughter to enjoy the exclusive usage of the private presidential jet for her private affairs was a new development that lacks precedence in policy and law.
Buhari’s last daughter, Hanan, had flown in a presidential jet to Bauchi state on Thursday, January 9, 2020, for a personal engagement at the palace of the emir of Bauchi, and presidential aide, Garba has sort to justify the action by saying it is a normal practice because the president’s family has rights to use the aircraft in the presidential fleet.
But Falana refuted that there was precedent, saying the “official policy” of the federal government “does not authorise the children of the President to use the presidential jets to attend to private social functions”.
A constitutional lawyer and scholar, Muhammad Bello, told judicialsketch.com that it could be an offence to have any person other than the president and those specifically allowed by law to use the presidential jet, especially because the aircraft carries the country’s coat of arm.
Yet another lawyer, Audu Bulama Bukarti, said it was “sad, disgusting and frustrating” to have President Buhari who “rode on the back of fighting corruption to become president” doing this.
Journalism scholar, Farooq Kperogi called it an “unprecedented abuse of presidential powers.”
Kperogi said it is untrue that there was no legal violation or subversion of convention for Buhari’s daughter to use a publicly funded presidential jet for private purposes, adding that “even if it were true, things don’t always have to be illegal for them to be condemnable. Something can be condemnable because it’s unethical or immoral, even if it’s legal.
“Making a tax-funded presidential jet available for the private use of Buhari’s daughter is straight-up unethical, even borderline illegal. Of course, it’s entirely defensible, even expected, for Buhari’s family members to get on a presidential jet WITH him. That’s one of the perks of the presidency. But Buhari’s daughter, not being a Vice President, a Senate President, or a Speaker, cannot, on her own, use a presidential jet—certainly not for private purposes”. He said.
He added that “there’s no precedent for this in Nigeria. None of Obasanjo’s children ever used a presidential jet for personal vanity trips. We definitely never heard of any Yar’adua children use a presidential jet for private functions. And most people never even knew Jonathan had children. We barely heard of or saw them, and surely never ever read that any of them used a presidential jet without their dad in it.
Agreeing with Falana, Kperogi said “No one in Nigeria’s history has personalized governance and murdered age-old expectations of basic decency in governance with as much impunity as Buhari has. Most members of his extended family not only hold key positions in his government, his children intrude on our national consciousness in the brashest and crudest ways imaginable.”