CELEBRITIES ABANDON MMIA PRESIDENTIAL LOUNGE

Activities at the presidential wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos have dropped drastically as many top government officials no longer travel through the area.

The presidential wing is created for top government officials including the President, Vice President, Senate President, speaker of the House of Representatives, serving governors and their deputies and past heads of state.

A source told our correspondent on Saturday that the movement of Very Important Personalities around the area had dropped considerably in the last one year, from at least two people daily to one a week or none at all for a whole week.

Our correspondent also gathered that only Vice President Yemi Osinbajo occasionally used the wing when on a visit to Lagos while others used it only when the President was scheduled to visit and they had to fly into Lagos ahead of him.

“It is not as if some of these VIPs don’t come to Lagos; they do but most of them now prefer to fly commercial like every other person,” the source added.

Another source told our correspondent that apart from top government officials, most other VIPs who used the wing on transit through Lagos had given out their private jets to airlines to manage on commercial basis.

The source said, “The reason for the lack of activities may not be farfetched. Since the fight against corruption began everyone has been maintaining very low profile. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is monitoring everyone and people have become more careful.

“What determines movement at the wing is if there’s any function in Lagos and on the average, there used to be two movements daily for those entitled to use the wing and even their friends and associates, but now, there’s hardly any movement. Most of them have given their private jets out to companies on lease while they fly commercial.”

Another source however said that the reason why many private jet owners were flying commercial was due to the economic downturn.

Early this year, it was reported that the number of privately owned jets in the country shrank by almost 50 per cent between 2015 and 2016, with about 31 of them deregistered with the aircraft either sold off or leased; it could also have been returned to the original owners abroad.

According to reports, during the last administration, there were about 67 privately owned jets in the country, but only 36 private jets are currently registered,18 of which are state-owned; and 18 owned by individuals and corporate companies.

Copyright PUNCH.

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