North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

The Presidency says discussions surrounding the cost of President Akufo-Addo’s travels could have been entirely avoided had the erstwhile NDC government, of which Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is a member, proceeded to buy the jets procured by the Kufuor administration.

Mr. Ablakwa on Thursday, June 23 accused President Akufo-Addo of spending €480,000.00 on his recent trip to Belgium and Kigali for a Pan-African Vaccine Manufacturing Project.

Although the Office of the President had denied these claims in a statement responding to Mr. Ablakwa, the North Tongu MP said there cannot be any “justification whatsoever for the grave insensitivity of President Akufo-Addo.”

This was the latest in his series of allegations concerning the President’s “Arabian-style” travels.

Responding to the latest assertions by the Ranking Member on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin, stated that had the erstwhile NDC government gone ahead to complete the procurement processes to acquire two jets for the President, these discussions would have been avoided.

“We must all, sincerely, acknowledge that these ultimately unproductive discussions about the cost of presidential trips would have been obviated had the far-sighted decision of the 2nd President of the 4th Republic, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, to procure two (2) presidential jets not been altered by the government of his successor, as a result of the same kind of propaganda that the North Tongu MP is engaging in today,” he said.

He explained that “President Kufuor placed orders for the current presidential jet, the Falcon 900EX aircraft, for short haul travel, and a 120-seater Airbus A319 for long haul travel.

“Due to populist reasons, the processes for the acquisition of the larger Airbus A319 aircraft, which could have been used for both long haul and short haul travel, and which would have accommodated the President’s entire delegation, including security and media personnel, were scrapped in favour of the smaller Falcon 900EX aircraft, which seats fourteen (14) people for short-haul travel and between eight (8) to ten (10) for longer haul travel.

“Having trivialised the importance of secure and efficient presidential travel, the successor government, of which Hon. Ablakwa was a loud member, had no option but to cancel the larger aircraft to the detriment of the country.”

He added that “We are reaping the rewards of the bitter seeds sown, and this is why sincere and candid public discourse on such matters must be undertaken at all times.”