Justification of government for renting another jet for the presidents trips untenable – Ablakwa
Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa who is the Ranking Member on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, has said the government’s justifications for renting a top-of-the-range private jet for the President’s trips to France, Belgium and South Africa recently are flawed.
Mr Ablakwa had accused President Nana Akufo-Addo of spending £15,000 of tax money every hour for the luxurious aircraft christened “penthouse in the sky” when there was a working presidential jet parked at the hangar.
He subsequently filed an urgent question requesting the Defence Minister to explain the government’s decision.
But according to the Member of Parliament for North Tongu in the Volta Region, the answers provided by the Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, to his urgent question today about why the presidential jet was ditched for the expensive Acropolis airliner are mere afterthoughts.
“The Minister must show Ghanaians some respect. Even if he will not accord the Minority in Parliament respect,” Mr Ablakwa said on Wednesday, June 16, during an interview with Joy News monitored by myactiveonline.com
Mr Nitiwul told Parliament on Wednesday that although the presidential jet is in a serviceable condition, it does not have the space to carry all the people the President usually takes with him on international trips.
“In practical experience since the aircraft was acquired in 2010 whenever the aircraft is travelling to the eastern part of the United States or Asia, the aircraft will not load through more than eight plus the luggage. So it depends on where it is going and the payload with it,” he said.
He also said the presidential jet has to do refuelling stops at different countries during long flights and this will compel the President to disembark and extend diplomatic courtesies to the country the flight lands.
“In this COVID-19 times, 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 make technica stops which are not desirable,” he said.
“Again, when he 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.
“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,” he explained.
But Mr Ablakwa said all the justifications are untenable.
The Hansard reveals that the aircraft can fly for a minimum of eight hours before refuelling. Accra to Paris is six and half hours so the President could have flown with this presidential jet which today [we have learned] is in pristine condition,” he said.
He said the reference to the President’s inability to take a bath in the presidential jet is most unfortunate and ridiculous.
“It is the most ridiculous thing perhaps we have ever been told in Parliament. The question is when the President is on land, in Accra, working as President does he take his bath every six and half hours? Accra to Paris is only six and half hours. How is having a shower so important?” he quizzed.
Mr Ablakwa said the presidential jet has a lifespan of at least 20 years and is currently in its 11th year so it was fit for the trips to the three countries.
By: Stella Annan |myactiveonline.com