Despite the several points the DG of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Capt. Fola Akinkuotu tried to make to justify the agency’s purchase of two bulletproof BMW 760 Li Amoured vehicle Series for N255 million, Nigerians have opined that the purchase was uncalled for at a time the parastatal is in a precarious financial situation, even as experts said the cars were overpriced by the agency.
It was gathered that the NCAA did not have the cash backing and hence the deal with Coscharis Motors and First Bank of Nigeria to finance the purchase was negotiated on hire purchase basis.
“There is no way NCAA could have raised that kind of money in one lump sum. Therefore when the pressure became unbearable that the vehicles had to be bought for the minister, the only option open to us was to explore how it could be done on hire purchase”, an NCAA source said.
According to the source, the deal was sealed based on anticipatory payment.
Explaining why the minister zeroed-in on NCAA to buy the vehicles, the source explained that it is one of the hard currency generating aviation agencies and payment for the vehicles was denominated in dollars.
“NCAA is in this trouble because we are one of the hard currency generating aviation agencies. That is why the minister zeroed-in on us to buy the two cars because we were made to understand that payment had to be made in dollars,” the source said.
“But it wasn’t as if the NCAA could afford to pay for the cars, being expensive as they are. We have many issues contending for funds including training of staff abroad on aircraft air worthiness and so on.
“We entered into anticipating payment for the cars such that the payment is spread over a period of time based on our projections. The source explained that it may take several months for the parastatal to fully pay for the vehicles.”
Akinkuotu had earlier said in a press briefing that the cars were duly budgeted for and had been purchased before he became DG.
“As I said, some of these things have been concluded even before I became DG, but I do believe that those who preceded me who were acting on my behalf at that time must have followed due process. The information that I have with full conviction was that they followed due process. I have on record that the two vehicles cost N255, 150, 000.00 only.”
He also said they were not paid for outrightly.
“When you want to acquire a particular property for instance, it is very important how you acquire it. These vehicles are part of our operational vehicles for the agency. They were structurally financed and not outright payment. The cars are at the pool of the NCAA. I know that the agency had bought this kind of vehicles before for security purposes,” Akinkuotu said.
Experts said the cost of the two cars should not have been more than $400,000 including freight charges as against the $1.6 million paid by the NCAA.
The insinuation was that the vehicles were grossly overpriced.
Efforts to get Coscharis Motors, the BMW representative in Nigeria, to speak on the matter proved abortive as the president of the company, Dr. Cosmas Maduka, was said to be on a foreign trip to South-Africa and China.
A Coscharis source said, “I am not competent to speak on the matter because the issue of armoured vehicles is strictly not for every staff, as most customers would not like people to know that their vehicles are armoured. It is usually confidential.”