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President Jonathan’s Official Car: How Secure?

Since 1963, when American President, J F Kennedy was killed, while driving through Dallars in an open-topped limousine Lincoln Continental SS-100-X, world leaders have had reasons to acquire automobiles that keep them safe from attacks. But how secured is Nigerian presidential car? FEMI OWOEYE finds out..

MERCEDES-BENZ S-CLASS: Heavily armoured to keep the president safe
MERCEDES-BENZ S-CLASS: Heavily armoured to keep the president safe

the common practice in most countries of  the world is to acquire automobiles that provide adequate security for rulers( President, Prime Ministers, Governors, etc).

What every nation budgets for this purpose  varies from country to country. For security reasons, many of them must not ride in cars similar to what ordinary citizen rides in. Their cars must be capable of protecting them from being hit by bullets or bomb in case of attack. Some even have gone as far as acquiring cars that could withstand  nuclear attacks.

Though it is on record that President Jose Mujica of Uruguay has no reason to feel apprehensive, as he drives about in a Volkswagen Beetle, a country like Nigeria, a highly polarized nation, whoever is elected as a president is not likely to want to take that kind of high risk. As usual, huge sum of money would still be budgeted for safety and security. Part of such budget goes into acquisition of specially built automobiles for president and even state governors to ride in. That has been the case of the nation’s incumbent president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. The question is assuming there is any form of attack against the president while in his official car, how safe is he?

Nigerian Presidential Convoy

Nigerian  president’s official convoy are made up of about 30 cars. Sometimes more. But how safe is the president?  While on an official outing, he doesn’t ride in an Innoson car. He rides in specially ordered armoured Mercedes-Benz S-Class on which Nigerian Flag and flags of his political party are stalked. Depending on security level and occasion of his destination, he could ride in also fully armoured BMW 730Ld or Range Rover.

However, on a typical presidential outing, especially one that would get him close to the ordinary people, who voted him to power, he travels in his armoured Mercedes S-Class, surrounded by  six  similar cars occupied by members of the State Security Service. If there are visiting Diplomats, their vehicles, also armoured, are made to travel along the president’s and so are shielded together.  Leading the way are usually at least 10 unprotected escort motorcycles, which ceremoniously rev and stray in front of the presidential motorcade. They add colour to the president’s outing.

Essential part of president’s motorcades are at least 30 vehicles, some of which are Peugeot, Range Rover and BMW.

Presidential Automobile Security

Shielded in the middle of the armoured Mercedes-Benz  S-550 occupied by members of the SSS. However, in case of gun or bomb attack, first line of defence for the Nigerian president is the car he rides in. If parked side by side with any other  similar model of Mercedes Benz S-Class, no difference can be spotted. However, Nigerian presidential car is a world apart from any other similar car, even with bullet proof glasses.

Nigerian presidential vehicle is protected not just by one bullet proof glasses, but by more than two  alternating layers of glass and polycarbonate (a plastic) laminated together. Windshield and side glasses of the car have got enough layers capable of absorbing any form of bullet fired at the car.  If fired at, combination of the layers of glass and polycarbonate prevents any bullet from penetrating, a system known as controlled delamination.

BOOLET-PROOF GLASS AND BODY: If shot at, combination of layers of glass and polycarbonate prevents any bullet from penetrating

Because of those protective layers, the presidential car is too heavy to drive on normal suspensions. So it comes with specially enhanced suspension, shocks and brake. Makers of the car also took into consideration possibility of attackers firing at the tyres . Those tyres are designed to run flat at 90km/hour.

From all indication, Nigerian president is one of the most secure and protected world leaders. His official Mercedes-Benz S-Class is unlike any other one. It was specially ordered and built to specification. Meaning it is not like what is popularly known as armoured cars around the world. That is why the figure on the car’s purchase invoice is three times higher than what ordinary armoured cast costs.

MERCEDES-BENZ S-CLASS: Heavily armoured to keep the president safe
MERCEDES-BENZ S-CLASS: Heavily armoured to keep the president safe

President Who Rides In Volkswagen Beetle

Unlike the highly protected president, Uruguay President Jose Alberto Mujica of Uruguay is one head of State, who worries not about security. He rides about in a Volkswagen Beetle. Perhaps he has every reason to feel secure among the common man, for he spends 90 of his income on charity. Why would anyone want such a man dead?

VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE: Official car of Alberto Mujica, President of Uruguay; what a world!


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