A roaring furore has erupted like an Icelandic volcano over the purchase of a brand new presidential jet plane, a Falcon
900, for the exclusive use of the President.
The plane is expected to arrive in July and already, a Ã¢â‚¬ËœhangarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is being built at the Kotoka International Airport to house it.
But even before its arrival, two former ministers have locked horns in a war of words over the Ã¢â‚¬ËœsenseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ in buying an airplane when Ghanaians are still languishing in abject poverty.
The news published by DAILY GUIDE yesterday indicated that the Minister of Defence, Lt. General J.H. Smith, who made the disclosure at a Meet-the-Press series in Accra on Thursday, said the presidential jet would enable the presidency to travel in comfort in the sub-region and beyond.
The Defence Minister said there was a problem with the old Fokker 28 aka Ã¢â‚¬ËœFlying CoffinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ which should have Ã¢â‚¬Å“gone on retirement long ago.Ã¢â‚¬Â
But a hot debate has ensued between a former minister of State at the Interior Ministry in the Kufuor administration and a former deputy Minister of Defence in the Rawlings administration over the propriety of the acquisition of the jet.
Nana Obiri Boahene said he was utterly shocked at the Ã¢â‚¬Å“quick u-turnÃ¢â‚¬Â by the Mills administration to purchase an aircraft for the state after Ã¢â‚¬Å“harshly criticisingÃ¢â‚¬Â former President Kufuor when he attempted to acquire an airplane for the same purpose.
Dr. Tony Aidoo, who is Head of the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit at the Presidency, told Citi Fm yesterday that the NDC in opposition did not describe the purchase as needless, but only complained about what he termed Ã¢â‚¬Ëœproper proceduresÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for the acquisition, which according to him were not followed.
He noted that the NDC also felt that placing orders for two airliners was uncalled for, especially when neither of them could serve the Armed Forces and were solely to be used by the Presidency.
He said the NDC in minority then took into account too much expenditure at the time including the construction of the Jubilee House and the celebration of the [email protected] which made it unwise to spend those huge sums on the two jets.
However, Nana Obiri Boahene rubbished Dr. Tony Aidoos justification of the purchase.
Lawyer Obiri Boahene said it is a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmisplaced priorityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for the NDC government to purchase an airliner in the face of a high unemployment rate and economic hardship in the country.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœÃ¢â‚¬ËœWe were made to understand that it was not a priority for Ghana within that given situation. I personally maintained that it is also not a priority now, looking at the economy, looking at the facilities we have in this country, the rate of unemployment, I think that it is still not a priority.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬â„¢
He reminded the NDC administration of how they crisscrossed the country in order to galvanise the support of Ghanaians to foil KufuorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s initiative to acquire a presidential jet, only to turn around to do the same.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœÃ¢â‚¬ËœDr. Tony Aidoo was always on Radio Gold, trying to tear NPP into pieces, making the whole world to believe that it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a priority. Now he is arguing that procedurally, it is correct for them to go and acquire the aircraft.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœÃ¢â‚¬ËœNinety percent of Ghanaian politicians are dishonest, they are not reliable, and they are not trustworthy. How will, within a matter of two years, people arguing that the acquisition of a jet wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a priority will come to say it is utmost priority?Ã¢â‚¬Â Nana Obiri Boahene quizzed.
He said Ghanaian politicians have demonstrated beyond every reasonable doubt that they only think of their stomachs and not the welfare of the ordinary citizens and that this is a real reflection of what is happening all over Africa.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœÃ¢â‚¬ËœI am very much surprised that Dr. Tony Aidoo, with all the noise he made during the NPP time towards the acquisition of jets, is today trying to justify it. The bottom line is that, if actually God exists, it is my prayer that God himself should manifest his powers. I am not cursing them but I think that they have demonstrated beyond every preponderance of probability that they are dishonest politicians,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ he stressed.
As the verbal assaults seemed to turn against Dr. Tony Aidoo, he quickly announced that he was throwing in the towel.
He said there was no point in continuing the debate and bemoaned the trend where everything is politicised even when they are in the interest of the state and the people.