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General News of Friday, 28 May 2021

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Why is Akufo-Addo not using the Presidential jet? – Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa asks

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

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa cannot comprehend why President Akufo-Addo will spend to hire Airbus ACJ320neo instead of using the Presidential jet

• Akufo-Addo's trip to Europe cost the country £345,000

• The North Tongu MP has filed an urgent question in Parliament to demand answers


Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the North Tongu MP has questioned why the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, refused to travel on the Presidential jet but found it necessary to hire Airbus ACJ320neo owned by Acropolis Aviation on his recent 9-day visit to France, Belgium, South Africa and back to Ghana.

He has filed an urgent question in Parliament to compel the Defence Minister to explain to Ghanaians through their representative in Parliament, why President Akufo-Addo is not using the Falcon.

Okudzeto Ablakwa explained to Joy FM on Thursday, May 27 in an interview monitored by GhanaWeb that, “the purpose for the urgent question is to summon the Defence Minister before the august House to tell us why His Excellency the President and the Commander in Chief of Armed Forces is not utilizing the Falcon, which is the Presidential jet”.

The Falcon per checks by the MP “remains in a very pristine condition”.

The Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament said the Presidential jet flies nonstop for eight hours and for the President’s trip to France, he could have used the Falcon.

“As Aviation experts have told me in my preparations for this urgent question, it would have cost [the country] 15% [less] the over GH¢2.8 million that the President has blown on this needless thirst for luxury,” Okudzeto Ablakwa explained further.

In a post on his social media timeline, Okudzeto Ablakwa wrote, “per Flightradar24, the G-KELT aircraft left Accra with the President to Paris on the 16th of May — a 6 and half-hour duration. Airlifted the President from Paris to Johannesburg for 11 hours on the 23rd of May.”

He continued: “Then Johannesburg to Accra on the 25th of May was a five and half hour flight. This gives us accumulated flight travel of 23 hours; so, at £15,000 an hour, it thus cost us a colossal £345,000. At the current exchange, that is a staggering GH¢2,828,432.80.

“Aviation experts inform me it would have cost Ghana less than 15% of this 2.8 million Ghana Cedis had President Akufo-Addo opted for Ghana’s available presidential jet which is in pristine condition. Alternatively, far more affordable travel arrangements are available which could have aligned with the President’s rhetoric for sympathy from the west for African nations.”

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa indicated that President Akufo-Addo has been a leading voice for debt forgiveness in the international arena but back home in Ghana, he has been imposing additional regressive taxes with the justification that the economy isn’t in a good place.

“Sadly, he consistently fails to lead by example in a period of austerity where his government is appealing to struggling public sector workers to lower-wage increase expectations.

“It is an outrage and a blatant betrayal for Ghana to own a presidential aircraft in perfect working condition which was ordered by President Kufuor, used by President Mills and President Mahama; and yet President Akufo-Addo chooses to charter a top-of-the-range luxury aircraft offered by Acropolis Aviation,” he noted.

Okudzeto Ablakwa said the manufacturers describe the aircraft President Akufo-Addo hired as “the most outstanding ambassador for Airbus Corporate Jets. It costs the Ghanaian taxpayer approximately £15,000 an hour when President Akufo-Addo rents it.”

The NDC MP said further, “the aircraft in issue is less than two years old and had only returned from Switzerland where it received the highest luxurious spruce up ever known in the aviation world just before President Akufo-Addo chose that particular luxurious monster. The jet can take up to 150 people in ordinary circumstances, however, it has been configured to accommodate only 17 royal passengers. The spectacularly opulent aircraft comes equipped with a lavish master bedroom, an imposing en-suite bathroom, monarchial dining facilities and round-the-clock IT connectivity.

“President Akufo-Addo undoubtedly has the greatest taste any Ghanaian President has ever had but the question is, should that insatiable appetite for his creature comforts be at the expense of the suffering masses? “The irony is that President Akufo-Addo engaged in this fantastic extravagance on his way to France to go beg President Emmanuel Macron for debt cancellation. Needless to add that President Macron does not travel in such splendour.”

Okudzeto Ablakwa noted further that such lavish spending by the President in such a period of austerity sends the wrong message not only to the foreign powers whom the President was beseeching for debt cancellation but to the Ghanaian citizens who in recent times have been agitating for #FixTheCountry.

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