The Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its weekly meeting on May 16, 2012 approved the sum of N1.7 Billion to the Nigeria Customs. This colossal sum is supposed to fund the procurement of a Cessna Citation CJ4 surveillance aircraft (fancy name huh?)
While award of contracts are fairly routine at FEC meetings, and we all know that aircraft procurement is a very expensive venture, I decided to do a little digging into the aircraft in question and to find out whether or not it was the best option under the circumstances.
According to the official Cessna website (www.cessna.com) “the Citation CJ4 is brimming with bold ideas, subtle flourishes and smart, usable technological advancements that make it, without a doubt, the most advanced CJ ever. And one of the most advanced citations ever.” So its a huge relief to know that the Nigerian Customs is not purchasing a World War II relic or another 'flying coffin' but a top of the range, king of the skies jet. Does this however justify the approved contract sum of about US$11 Million?
Cessna Citation CJ4
My findings revealed that a Cessna Citation CJ4 aircraft typically retails at US$9 million. What this means is giving the fact that the procurement has been awarded to a contractor, Messrs Africair Incorporated, and taking into consideration their profit margins, freight and other logistics, this will probably go down as one of the most transparent procurement processes in the Nigeria. Except that in Nigeria, nothing is ever as it seems. For instance, I found nothing in the procurement details suggesting the aircraft to be purchased is brand new. To put this in pespective, a tokunbo Cessna can be procured for almost half the approved amount!
I also discovered that the Citation CJ4 is essentially a luxury jet. What this means is that the engineers at Cessna designed the aircraft for comfort. Thus acquiring it for surveilance purposes will no doubt require some modifications in order to meet the desired specifications. The question is, would'nt it have been easier and more cost effective to simply buy a through and through surveilance aircraft?
Inside the CJ4
There is a need to carefully monitor this purchase to ensure that Nigerians are not short changed once more in the name of contract. We need to send a loud and clear signal to Government at all levels that we will no longer be fed vague information couched in fancy, high sounding words. The modern day Nigerian is enlightened and informed and has dozens of ways to disseminate information to other Nigerians.
Government must know and take note of the new activism growing within us and start taking governance seriously. We must be determined to hold every public officer to account by scrutinizing every policy, every contract award, and every remark to see it for what it really is. The people must be taken for granted no longer!