Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

The North Tongu Member of Parliament (MP), Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has said that he will not stop investigating the use of the chartered flights by President Akufo-Addo for foreign travels.

He said although the President boarded a commercial flight to the Dubai Expo on Monday, his previous foreign travels must be accounted for to ensure transparency and fairness.

“I will not abandon the probe for a full-scale inquiry by this House [Parliament] into all of those charters, because the President should not have started that in the first place.”

“Mind you, this is a House of accountability and a House that demands checks and balances. That is what Parliament exists to do,” he told JoyNews in an interview on Tuesday, March 8.

He made these known after he lauded the President for his decision to travel on commercial flight for the Dubai Expo.

In a Facebook post on Monday, March 7, Mr. Ablakwa noted that “this is the first time in at least a year, President Akufo-Addo has jetted out of the continent without using a profligate and sybaritic charter at a profound expense to the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer.”

“President Akufo-Addo, who has defiantly flown on ultra-luxurious chartered executive jets for all his trips outside Africa since May last year, deserves some credit for finally listening to an outraged public and surrendering to legitimate patriotic pressure from struggling Ghanaians reeling under an economy in tatters.”

According to him, Ghanaians must be courageous and objective to acknowledge the government’s penitent conduct “when our elected officials finally exhibit good judgment, even if it took great struggle from us.”

Background

Since last year, the Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee has been condemning the President for using a chartered luxurious private jet for his foreign trips.

On February 12, this year, he alleged that the President spent over GH¢4 million on his 10-day trip to some European countries and Guyana.

He has accused the government of wasting taxpayers’ money and called on Ghanaians to hold government accountable.

In May, 2021, the MP stirred controversy when he alleged that the nation paid £15,000 an hour as the President opted for luxurious aircraft instead of using the presidential jet on his travels to France, Belgium and South Africa.

He subsequently filed a question and Parliament summoned the Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, to answer questions on the cost and why Ghana’s presidential jet was not used.

The Minister justified the President’s decision to rent the aircraft, arguing that the capacity of the presidential aircraft can no longer carry the President’s entourage.

He told the House that the Finance Minister is best to provide other details regarding the cost incurred on the trip.

Not satisfied with this answer, Mr. Ablakwa filed another question to summon the Finance Minister to discuss the cost.

Ken Ofori-Atta appeared before Parliament and noted that questions on the cost and travels of the President will be best answered by the National Security Ministry.

Whilst the nation is yet to be informed of the actual cost incurred through both trips, a former Chief of Staff, Kojo Impiani suggested that an alternative method should be adopted to halt the extravagant lifestyle of leaders at the expense of taxpayers.

Mr Ablakwa again in September alleged that the President hired another luxurious aircraft on his recent foreign trips to the UK and Germany. 

According to him, the nation paid GH¢3.4 million for President Akufo-Addo’s recent trips to the United Kingdom and Germany.

But the Director of Communications at the Jubilee House, Eugene Arhin, dismissed the claims stating that the information put out by Mr Ablakwa on the President’s recent travel were false.

He added that President Akufo-Addo did not use a Luxembourg-based aircraft registered LX-DIO as suggested by the MP.