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Opinions of Thursday, 20 March 2008

Columnist: Ablakwa, Samuel Okudzeto

Purchase of Prez Jets: Kufuor's End of Service Package?

The Purchase of the two Luxurious Custom Made Presidential Jets: President Kufuor’s End of Service Package? The NPP’s Shameless Treachery and the Welcome Challenge to Ghanaians.

Governments never learn. Only people learn. - Milton Friedman (The Observer, 1980)

The NPP Government has once again insulted Ghanaians and shown that it deliberately chooses not to prioritize and therefore ignores the plight of the suffering masses. This time, by its conduct in the intended purchase of not one but two Luxurious Custom Made Presidential Jets namely the 12 seater Falcon 900 and 30 seater Airbus Jet 319 both at the cost of $105,015,000, is only a further proof of the degree of bad governance, vulgar opulence by the NPP ruling elite and pathetic levels of double standards and hypocrisy which has characterized this NPP regime.

This is the regime that opposed the purchase of the Gulf Stream III by the NDC Government when it was in opposition in 1999 and 2000. In Parliamentary Hanzards dating 15th February 2000 and 30th March 2000, NPP MPs like Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku, Mr. J.H. Mensah, Nana Akuffo Addo, et al take turns to lambast the NDC regime for being insensitive to the plight of the people. They further said that the international community from which Ghana borrows wouldn’t take us serious. They even questioned the suitability of a 14 seater Gulf Stream III.

We must not forget that during the NDC period it was even just one jet which was at a cost of $16,680,000 and it was a 14 seater second-hand jet. Contrast this with the current $ 105, 05,000 for the 12 seater Falcon 900 plus 30 seater Airbus 319 which are brand new, luxurious and with Government of Ghana special customized demand specifications valued at $10,000,000 according to the Defence Minister Hon. Albert Kan Dapaah on Peace FM on Tuesday March 18, 2008.

Today, when the tables turned, and the NPP were entrusted with power by we the people, they consider us fools who don’t matter anymore. The NPP aren’t making the arguments they made in 1999 and 2000.

Today the Presidential Press Secretary Andrew Awuni who continues to lie when he issued a statement on March 15, 2008 according to the GNA stated “The Presidency has not ordered any Presidential Jet for itself as being alluded to in the current debate on the issue… what the government has simply done regarding this matter is to put before Parliament an elaborate and comprehensive request from the Ghana Air force for re-equipping its communications squadron.” This shameless blatant liar thinks Ghanaians don’t know that the President of Ghana is the Commander-in-chief of the Ghana Armed Forces and that all Presidential Jets since 1957 are piloted and maintained by the Ghana Air Force. It is this same liar, Mr. Andrew Awuni who had the sheer effrontery to tell Ghanaians on Joy FM that “Ghanaians must do away with the poverty mentality.” Yes, when your fortunes suddenly change only few remember where they came from and that they left many people over there.

I ask myself, does the NPP Government, its spin doctors and mercenaries who come in different laughable styles and sophistications have any conscience at all? Do they listen to themselves when they speak? The same NPP which raised the issue of the plight of the people in 2000 now look at the people suffer a national devastating water crisis, thousands of youth unpaid for months under the NYEP, the sick carrying their own sachet water to hospitals for surgery, teachers, civil servants, nurses and doctors still crying for better salaries, schools in the Northern and Volta Regions threatening to close down if their food and scholarship subventions from the Government aren’t paid, millions of Ghanaians and industry being crippled with an unsubsidized and over-taxed fuel price, millions suffering excruciating poverty and the widening north-south dichotomy.

Today the NPP chorus is different and one of their gigantic looking mercenaries had no shame in saying on radio recently that priorities are subjective and sheepishly asked whose prority? This pathetic giant wants to deliberately forget that basic Economics has long cleared any doubt about priority in theorems such as Opportunity Cost and Scale of Preference. Again, where is the principle of J.H. Mensah in 2000 when he averred that the international community since we depended on their aid wouldn’t take us serious by the purchase of the Gulf Stream III which he called a toy? This time, the shameless irony is that the arrogant NPP General Secretary and the audit indicted Information Minister has no shame in telling us that the French President had to be pressed upon to help Ghana get a reduced deal. How embarrassing! If you cannot afford it, who and what are forcing you? The point must also be made that the claim by the Government that in 2010 all the Air force Planes will be grounded so there was urgency required in this matter is nothing but fallacious. We must note that President Kufuor has managed to travel all over the world without what the Air force had since 2001 so this claim can only be fallacious.

Secondly, what right has a vindictive and failed zero-tolerance for corruption President have in tying the hands of his successor when he himself refused to use the Gulf Stream III. Why does Kufuor think his successor will use his? President Kufuor by his conduct has already grounded the Ghana Air force since 2001 and if nothing happened then, nothing will happen after 2010.

As I look across to Nigeria and see the revelations about the alleged sleaze and corruption in Ex President Obasanjo’s purchases and contracts for which he is likely to be dragged before the Nigerian Parliament soon, then I wouldn’t be wrong in looking curiously at Obasonjo’s best friend’s actions here in Ghana especially as he also prepares to step down. What might be in it for President Kufuor that makes him appear to desperately love his unknown successor beyond 2010 so much? But well, as the African adage goes, and as events in Nigeria have proved- “it is when the frog dies that it’s true length will be known.”

Milton Friedman was right when he remarked that “Governments never learn. Only people learn.” To us ordinary Ghanaians, this Presidential Jet saga is only a challenge the NPP Government has thrown to us.

The NPP wants to test Ghanaians to see if what we did to the NDC in 2000 for similar acts will be visited on them in December 2008? I want to assure the NPP that this challenge is a very welcome one, and they should prepare for a more humiliating defeat in the December 7 elections which will be in direct proportion to their sins against us and this, we the people will continue to do until we attain what Plato said that “our object in the construction of the state is the greatest happiness of the whole, and not that of any one class.”

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is the author of the book, A State of Coma; he has several other publications to his name. He was NUGS President and is currently a leading member of the CJA. He welcomes your comments.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.