Parliament’s Ranking Member on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has said he will not be distracted in seeking answers for what he calls luxurious travels by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo.
In a September 22, 2021 Facebook post, Ablakwa challenged critics who claimed he was engaging in double standards having previously benefited from a similar privilege to provide evidence that that he had ever chartered or used a private jet as a public official.
He added that history shows that the sitting president and the then opposition New Patriotic Party openly opposed the purchase of the Ghana’s third presidential jet, the Gulfstream GIII by the Jerry John Rawlings government.
“It has not been that long in our history when MP for Akim Abuakwa South, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his colleague NPP MPs raised major concerns and waged a spirited campaign over President Rawlings’ purchase of the Gulfstream GIII – Ghana’s third Presidential Jet,” his post read.
He added that unlike in his case where people are busily attacking his personality and seeking to gag him, “Nobody gagged MP Akufo-Addo then and my colleagues and I shall not be gagged now,” he added.
“We march on without fear or favour; our only motivation is the supreme national interest and the genuine protection of the public purse. For God and Ghana,” he stressed.
The post was made a day after he disclosed purported flight expense of the President on his trip to the United States where he is participating in the 76th United Nations General Assembly.
This was the third time in the last three months that he has disclosed Akufo-Addo’s use of luxurious chartered flights for trips to Europe and the United States.
Ablakwa alleged that conservative estimates show that the three times the president used chartered flights cost the state about 10 million Ghana cedis. He is concerned that Ghana’s presidential jet remains in mint condition and could have served the purpose and saved the taxpayer
The third presidential jet was brought in by President Jerry John Rawlings, the Gulfstream GIII. It was bought from the Americans and arrived in 1998.
Its purchase generated controversy and then opposition leader Kufuor refused to use it opting for commercial flights till the current one was purchased. Kufuor sold the Gulfstream in 2006.
The current and fourth presidential jet was ordered in 2008 by then President John Agyekum Kufuor , its documentation arrived in Parliament in March 2008 with the then government placing an order for two of the jets – the Falcon 900 EX-Easy aircraft and a Boeing Business Jet (BBJ).
The two aircrafts were to cost in the region of 105 million dollars but the current Falcon alone cost over 37 million dollars.
When the Mills government took office, it cancelled request for one of the jets, the BBJ, at the time the president argued that Ghana needed one jet citing the need for prudence in government spending.