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Politics of Friday, 18 June 2021

Source: happyghana.com

Mahama also travelled in private jet; Akufo-Addo isn’t the first – MP defends

The Member of Parliament for Afigya Kwabre North, Collins Adomako Mensah, has justified President Akufo-Addo’s use of a supposed luxurious private jet for some official trips in recent times.

According to him, Nana Addo is not the first Ghanaian President to have used a private jet for official government business.

Government has been criticised by some Ghanaians after the North Tongu Member of Parliament, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, questioned the use of a supposed luxurious private jet for trips to France, Belgium and South Africa, when the country’s presidential jet is available for use.

But the Defense Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, who was hauled to Parliament to explain the airworthiness or otherwise of the presidential jet, said it was inconvenient for the President’s use due to multiple factors.

According to him, the safety of the President is the utmost consideration in the selection of an aircraft for his trips rather than a focus on cost.

“This aircraft will carry a load of 11 persons minus the crew. When this aircraft is travelling to the eastern part of the USA or Asia, it will not load a crew of more than eight plus the luggage. So it depends on where it is going. Secondly, I have also said the aircraft has to do refueling stops, and also in this Covid-19, when you are travelling to multiple destinations like the president’s recent travel, the Falcon couldn’t have been taken because he would have had to do technical stops which are not desirable, and when he is travelling with more than 20 people like he has been doing for business trips that brought huge sums of money for this country, he will need more than just a Falcon, otherwise, the others would have to go a day ahead before the president to prepare themselves.”

Even though this justification has also been criticised widely, the Afigya Kwabre North lawmaker, Collins Adomako Mensah, says no wrong has been committed.

Speaking in an interview on Thursday, June 17, 2021, Mr. Adomako Mensah said former president John Mahama at some point during his presidency also used private jets for official trips.

“This is not the first time any president is using a private jet on official travels. Former President Mahama occasionally used private jets, but he wasn’t described as an Arabia king when he did that, and at the time our hospitals were still choked.”

“So the arguments about the fact that we borrowed and are using the money on private jets instead of using it on the economy is a non-starter”.

Okudzeto Ablakwa

The North Tongu lawmaker has claimed President Akufo-Addo has spent an amount of GHS 2.8 million on his recent travels to only South Africa and France, using the services of a private jet.“The Airbus ACJ320neo owned by Acropolis Aviation based in Farnborough, UK and registered as G-KELT, is the most luxurious and the most expensive in the Acropolis fleet. The manufacturers describe it 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 legislator alleged in a post on Facebook.

He accused the President of blowing the money “to satisfy his insatiable appetite and comfort at the expense of the suffering masses”.

“Let’s further analyse President Akufo-Addo’s latest trip to Europe: 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.”

“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 rate, that is a staggering GHS2,828,432.80,” he posted.

The Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, in an interview on Eyewitness News on Citi FM, blamed the opposition National Democratic Congress for their inability to use the current presidential jet.

He says the debate on why the President did not use the presidential jet for his recent trips, would not have been had if the NDC under the erstwhile John Evans Atta Mills administration had not abrogated an order for a larger jet for the Ghana Air Force in 2009.