The Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has requested for more time from Parliament to provide a response to the urgent question on the cost of President Akufo-Addo’s recent trips to France, Belgium, and South Africa, despite being notified over two weeks ago.
The Finance Minister was scheduled to answer the said question on Thursday after the Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, responded to the first part of the question on the airworthiness of the Presidential jet on Wednesday [June 16, 2021].
But the question directed at the Finance Minister by North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, was taken off the order paper for the day.
Mr. Ablakwa subsequently posted on his social media pages that the Minister has requested more time to answer his question.
Speaking to Citi News, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said he will not back down in his quest to establish the true cost of the President’s trips to the Ghanaian taxpayer.
“The Minister for Finance has had ample notice of my question. He has had more than two weeks to prepare for this question but what we know for certain is that our resolve to pursue this matter is unwavering. We will continue with strong determination in the interest of accountability, in the interest of good governance, and in the interest of protecting the public purse.”
Nitiwul answers his question
On the airworthiness of the presidential jet, the Minister for Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, has justified why Nana Akufo-Addo didn’t use the presidential jet for his recent trips.
According to Mr. Nitiwul, the ultimate factor in deciding the type of aircraft the president uses for his trips is “safety”.
He insisted that the challenges with the current presidential jet, such as the limited passengers it can carry, the number of times required for refuelling on a trip, and luggage capacity, among other things, makes the aircraft not fit for purpose.
He concluded that no president can even take his shower on the aircraft when the need arises.
“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 w8ill 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 refuelling 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.”
“In fact, the president would also have to go a day ahead because no president can shower in this aircraft. He cannot move from this aircraft straight into a meeting.”
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.