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Opinions of Sunday, 31 July 2011

Columnist: Agbodza, Kwame

Re: Gov’t Must Provide A Pro Forma Invoice On Jets - Atta Akyea

By Kwame Agbodza

I have great respect for most Members of Parliament. After all, our democracy could not function properly without the participation of intelligent and morally upright members of Parliament. We must all do well to support the institution of parliament to ensure that laws promulgated by parliamentarians reflect the will and aspiration of the people. We must also ensure that people with dodgy backgrounds don’t end up in parliament to soil the reputation of the ‘Honourable House’

I have been following news about Atta Akyea for a while. He appears to have made news both in and out of Parliament, sometimes for the wrong reasons. I listened to Atta Akyea during an interview with Suhini Alhassan on Radio Gold this week. Atta Akyea appears to put on his usual ‘Mr clean hat’ and made all sorts of statements in relation to governments move to equip the Air force as required. Atta Akyea’s comments made me conclude that he does not understand the difference between buying motor bikes for District Assembly members and the provision of strategic logistics to Armed forces. He said “…If you want to buy a gadget and you are trying to fund the money, you are entitled to a pro forma invoice. With this the additional will be understood since it will indicate the various prices. This is simple and it is going to help in resting this matter. We can put this matter to rest if a pro forma invoice is submitted to parliament for everyone to understand…,”


I disagree with Atta Akyea on this issue completely. Enough details have been provided by government regarding the purchase of the Aircrafts. There are very good reasons why you should not expose some other details of the 5 aircrafts to the world, some of the details bother on National Security and the capabilities of our Air force in current global setting. The Embraer 190 aircraft that Atta Akyea and his NPP are fixated on may appear on their so called internet price comparison site at a price, but that may be completely misleading. The United States Armed forces maintain a fleet of Aircrafts for the purposes of transporting the President popularly called the ‘Air force One’. The US secret service previously customised Aircrafts such as a C-87 Liberator Express and a C-54 Skymaster for use by presidents but were all later scraped. Currently a fleet of two Boeing VC-25 specifically configured, highly customised Boeing 747-200B series aircraft are used by the president and may carry the "Air Force One" call sign while the president is on board. On the outside these Aircrafts appear to be just another Boeing 747, but these are not ,and no one knows the actual prices of the extra items. All we know is that cost of operating Air Force One is about $40,243 per hour of flight. They are highly customised; which ever extra items were added during customisation is only known to the Armed forces and secret service. The government does not need to show Atta Akyea and the NPP a pro forma invoice of these aircrafts. Their members on the relevant of Parliamentary committees can ask for more details and the military may choose to supply that information based on the level of sensitivity to national Security.
In any case I don’t think Atta Akyea can be trusted to be privy to top national security details. Are we not reminded of a tape played on Radio Gold during the 2008 election allegedly suggest that Atta Akyea was planning acts that may have plunged the Ghana into a state of insecurity ? . Is he also not allegedly being accused of fraud by a former client. If Atta Akyea’s was that good in book-keeping his former client may not have been accusing him of fraud.
I wonder why Atta Akyea and the NPP are so anti-military and does not see the need to provide the necessary logistics to them. Why are they hiding under ’pro-forma invoices’ undermine the integrity of the military? Are they not aware the need for a well trained and equipped military in protecting our democracy?
I urge the government to be committed to the fundamental duty of any civilised state, which is to protect its law abiding citizens and territory. If this requires the acquisition of 5 Aircrafts, that must be done to protect the peace in the country.
Long Live the Air force..
Long live Ghana
God Bless Us All
Kwame Agbodza