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General News of Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Akufo-Addo's 'taste' for luxurious planes foundation for acquiring new presidential jet - Ablakwa

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu, has indicated that, steps by the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo led government to purchase a bigger presidential jet, was on the premise of the government abandoning the existing presidential jet for obscene luxury charters.

Eugene Arhin, the Director of Communications at the Presidency, speaking to the media on Monday, September 27, at the Jubilee House, hinted: “Government is already in the process of acquiring a bigger jet for use."

"The Minister of Defence has made it clear that the government has decided to buy a bigger jet to save us from all these troubles. I wouldn't want to go into details. I am sure when the Minister of Defence has the opportunity he will do that," he said.

Reacting to what he describes as the "bigger announcement" on his Facebook timeline, Tuesday, September 28, the Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament accused the Akufo-Addo administration of failing woefully to convince objective Ghanaians that the Falcon 900 EXE isn’t fit for purpose.

Giving a background on why the presidential jet was acquired, Okudzeto Ablakwa wrote thus, "the Kufuor-led government informed parliament on the 19th of March, 2008 during the approval processes leading to the purchase of the Falcon (Ghana’s fourth presidential jet) that the lifespan of our presidential jet is for at least 20 years from the date of delivery being October 2010.

"Ghana’s current presidential jet is therefore barely 11 years old. The Namibian’s who use a similar presidential aircraft, albeit an older model— a Falcon 900B continue to use theirs after 30 years. (The Namibians purchased their Falcon in 1991)."

He added that he will not fall for the size propaganda.

He explained, "When President Akufo-Addo opted to charter ultra-luxury aircraft, size was not on his mind. The Airbus ACJ320neo which he leased in May is a 17-seater. The Boeing 737 LX-DIO which he’s been flying subsequently and which he used to the US last week is a 19-seater. President Akufo-Addo did not on one occasion charter a 40 or 50-seater capacity aircraft. Remember our presidential jet is a 17-seater very much within the same capacity range of the President’s newly acquired taste for ultra-luxury monsters.

"As the Defence Minister confirmed in Parliament on June 16, 2021, in reaction to my urgent question which many believe was a Freudian slip - I am referring to the infamous sky bath debacle; President Akufo-Addo is simply motivated by an insatiable desire for profligacy and extreme personal comfort never exhibited by any of his predecessor presidents," Ablakwa's post read.

He continued, "the fundamental question, therefore, is — how did this ailing economy which cannot afford more than a 4% pay rise for agitating organized labour suddenly become buoyant to afford a new bigger ultra-luxury jet which by conservative market estimates would not cost the Ghanaian taxpayer anything less than US$65million (GHS392.6million)?"

Okudzeto Ablakwa said, after an acute lack of accountability, disdain for Ghanaians seeking transparency and the gross disrespect of Parliament in the pursuit of its constitutional mandate of oversight, "it would be exceedingly interesting to see how Parliament would be approached with this needless, gravely insensitive and badly-timed agreement for a new bigger ultra-luxurious aircraft in this climate of grand opacity and excruciating economic hardship."


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