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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Akufo-Addo’s latest ‘luxury’ jet use cost taxpayers GH¢3.5million – Ablakwa alleges

Akufo-Addo arrives in Serbia aboard a chartered Boeing jet codenamed LX-DIOAkufo-Addo arrives in Serbia aboard a chartered Boeing jet codenamed LX-DIO

Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has alleged that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s latest chartered ‘luxury’ trip to Serbia cost the taxpayer over half a million dollars which translates to about GH¢3.5 million.

Ablakwa confirmed a GhanaWeb story that showed how President Akufo-Addo and his entourage attending the Non-Aligned Movement, NAM, conference in Serbia, flew on a Boeing 737-900ER BBJ3 registered under the name LX-DIO.

Ablakwa, who is also the Ranking Member on Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament said in an October 13, 202, Facebook post that he had been vindicated by photos shared by the Serbian Foreign Ministry after they posted Akufo-Addo’s arrival aboard the LX-DIO.

“Just to illustrate from our latest tracking: President Akufo-Addo took off aboard the LX-DIO to Belgrade at 12:22pm last Sunday from Accra. He landed in Serbia at 8pm local time. The President arrived back home at 5pm today.

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“The LX-DIO was ordered on Saturday 9th October, 2021, leaving its base in Luxembourg and landing in Accra at 12:46pm local time on Saturday after a brief stop in Abuja. Ghanaian taxpayers therefore paid for the overnight waiting period.

“At a conservative estimate of 42 hours of aircraft lease duration, the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer is coughing up nothing less than US$588,000 which translates to a scary GHS3.5million.”

He also called out government officials who vehemently dismissed his repeated reporting about the President’s use of chartered luxury jets. This is the fourth time Ablakwa has posted information about presidential travels he deems luxurious and uncalled for given that Ghana has a functional presidential jet.

The current 3.5 million cedis bill he has disclosed brings the total amount of spending on the last four presidential overseas travels to over 13 million Ghana cedis.
Back and forth on presidential travels

The subject of presidential travels have become topical in recent months with the North Tongu MP accusing government of spending on luxury at a time when the country is grappling with a pandemic and struggling economy hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government last month, through the Director of Communications at the presidency, announced plans to buy a new presidential jet.

Whereas Defense Minister Dominic Nitiwul admits the current presidential jet, the Dassault Falcon 900 EXE, was functional he added in a response in Parliament that it was not fit for purpose.

An aide to Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, Gideon Boako, is on record as saying the President used the current jet for subregional travels and chartered jets for long haul travels, on advice of the National Security.

Read Ablakwa’s full post below:

Keep your Falcon and buy me a new bigger more luxurious Presidential Jet or I will continue to charter in vulgar opulence the Boeing 737-97Y(ER)(BBJ3) registered LX-DIO at US$14,000 an hour, no matter how loud your resistance.

That is the clear message from President Akufo-Addo to outraged Ghanaians as he continues to contemptuously defy public outcry by his continuous stiff-necked lease of the now famous distinctively blue and white ultra luxury executive jet.

The Serbian Foreign Ministry has obviously created credibility crisis for government propagandists who had been claiming I was making up stories considering that the Serbs have put out official photographs of President Akufo-Addo disembarking from the LX-DIO as he arrived in Belgrade on Sunday to attend the 60th anniversary of the Non Aligned Movement.

The skeptics can now appreciate why even though dishonest elements at the Presidency have sought to deny the Presidents use of the ostentatious bird, they have been unable to inform Ghanaians which specific aircraft the President used for the travels in issue. That it has to take another government to further expose the Akufo-Addo administration albeit inadvertently reveals just how scarce commodities such as transparency, accountability and respect for the citizenry have become under a leader who hitherto touted his self-professed good governance credentials.

May I state for the record that despite government’s shenanigans and attempts at obfuscation, our comprehensive tracking system makes it impossible for the President’s profligate travels to escape our vigilance. This means that the good people of Ghana can be assured that when Parliament resumes, every one of these Arabian-king-style trips and every single minute of flight time plus every associated incidental cost at the taxpayer’s expense shall be accounted for to the People’s Representatives.

Just to illustrate from our latest tracking: President Akufo-Addo took off aboard the LX-DIO to Belgrade at 12:22pm last Sunday from Accra. He landed in Serbia at 8pm local time. The President arrived back home at 5pm today. The LX-DIO was ordered on Saturday 9th October, 2021, leaving its base in Luxembourg and landing in Accra at 12:46pm local time on Saturday after a brief stop in Abuja. Ghanaian taxpayers therefore paid for the overnight waiting period.

At a conservative estimate of 42 hours of aircraft lease duration, the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer is coughing up nothing less than US$588,000 which translates to a scary GHS3.5million.

Meanwhile, more African Presidents are queuing to use our Presidential Jet even though government propagandists who seem to have little regard for the intelligence of Ghanaians claim our Falcon is unsafe and uncomfortable to use. (See attached from final set of slides tracking evidence of the multiple African Presidents using Ghana’s presidential jet).

May we hope that after being reminded of the global inspiration, vision, modesty and sacrificial leadership of the Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah who together with Tito, Nehru, Nasser and Sukarno established the NAM some 60 years ago, President Akufo-Addo will be compelled to reflect on his own legacy and how he would like the world to remember him.

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