President Muhammadu Buhari last night returned to Abuja six days after he left the country for the United States, where he held bilateral talks with President Donald Trump.
The president, who left the country on Saturday night and arrived Washington D.C. on Sunday, touched down at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport at about 11 p.m. last night.
He had left Washington on Wednesday but did not fly directly to Nigeria. Instead, he had a stopover in London en route Nigeria, during which refuelling and the necessary checks were carried out on the small aircraft he had used for the trip.
Malam Garba Shehu, the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, who had earlier explained that the president had a “technical stopover’”in London, said that his arrival in Nigeria was delayed because the president did not fly in the larger presidential presidential jet, Eagle One, because it had gone for repairs.
According to him, Buhari used a smaller aircraft which he said could only cover 12 hours and 40 minutes.
He pointed out that the stopover was necessary to ensure that the aircraft was not overstretched with a direct flight, even though the distance from Washington DC to Abuja is 12 hours.
Against this backdrop, Shehu said the journey had to be broken into two with a stopover in London to create room for the necessary checks on the plane before proceeding to Nigeria.
“The big jet is under repairs. It has been taken for major repairs. So the president is using a small plane and there is a limit to the distance the small plane can cover.
“So the technical stopover I talked about is that the journey from the U.S. to Abuja is broken into two. The technical stopover is that the plane stops at a point, refuels, undergoes some checks and then proceeds on the journey.
“This is very normal. There is nothing unusual about it. In any case, they are already on their way back home.
“It is a routine thing. The plane can do Abuja-Washington, that’s about 12 hours and the maximum the plane can fly is 12 hours, 40minutes. But you don’t need to push it to the edge,” Shehu said.