The Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has decried the justification of President Akufo-Addo’s luxurious flight which allegedly cost £15,000 per hour, by Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul.
“The Minority is stating that the reasons provided by Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul to Parliament is an insult to the Ghanaian people. It does not make sense and we don’t see the head and tail of it.
“The other unturnable excuse is that the presidential jet as it is now, the President cannot take a bath. I mean the most ridiculous thing perhaps we have ever been told in Parliament. When the President is on land in Accra, does he take his bath every six and a half hours? Why is having a shower so important?” he asked.
Addressing Parliament on Wednesday, Dominic Nitiwul stated that President Akufo-Addo could not use the presidential jet on his recent business trips to France, Belgium and South Africa because it lacked some facilities despite its being airworthy
“Again, when he (Akufo-Addo) is travelling with more than 20 people for a business trip, as he has done and brought huge sums of money for this nation, he will need more than just a Falcon, otherwise, the others would have to go a day ahead before the President to prepare themselves,” he stated.
But the reason provided to Parliament, according to Mr Okudzeto Ablakwah is an insult to the intelligence of Ghanaians who have been urged by government to assist its effort to recover the economy through the imposition of taxes.
He explained that concerns over the lack of capacity of the Falcon Jet cannot be compelling enough for the sum of ¢2.8million to be spent within 23hours by just an individual.
“He (Dominic Nitiwul) made the submission that the capacity of the presidential jet is not large enough to hold the security and some journalists accompanying the President. Why did he not go for bigger passenger aircraft? ACJ-320 takes a maximum of 17 persons.
“What is the difference between 17 and 11 people the Defence Minister is talking about? From our records, it is 15-capacity aircraft, that is the Falcon. So the six additional space is the difference for £15000 an hour, i.e. GH₵2.8million just for 23 hours,” he said.
He noted on JoyNews’ Top Story, Wednesday, that the presidential jet is in perfect condition and would not have required refuelling if the President used it for the six and half hour trip to France.
“The Hansard revealed that the aircraft (presidential jet) can fly for a minimum of 8 hours before you refuel. Accra to Paris is six and a half hours. So the President could have flown with this presidential jet. The most important thing is this presidential jet is in pristine condition – it is in great condition. It is available to be used. The President could have used it. He could have flown this jet without needing to refuel.”
The assertion that the luxurious flight hired was to satisfy the desire and yearning of President Akufo-Addo will continue to stand according to Mr Ablakwa following the unacceptable rationale presented.
He revealed that the extravagant expense was deliberate since the government could have employed the services of the Emirates flight which would have hosted the number of persons accompanying the President as well as provided the team with the avenue to shower.
The North Tongu MP has, therefore, accused President Akufo-Addo of promoting double standards as he has failed to protect the public purse as promised to the people of Ghana.
“It is clear to us in the Minority that this whole arrangement was just to satisfy the cravings and comfort of the President. How can the Defence Minister tell Parliament that the President with this chattered arrangement is able to shower in the sky? They can shower and freshen up so that is why this is expedient.
“For Christ sake, as I told the Defence Minister, if it is all about showering in the sky if you fly first class on Emirates, it provides that service. So that cannot be an excuse to blow £15,000 per hour.
“So it is totally wrong, especially from a President who promised to protect the public purse. Is this how you protect the public purse?” he stated.
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