The Defence Minister has justified government’s decision to hire a luxury aircraft for President Akufo-Addo’s latest foreign trip which is alleged to have cost £15,000 per hour.
Addressing Parliament on Wednesday, Dominic Nitiwul insisted that using the presidential jet would not have been a good idea.
He stated that the presidential jet, the Falcon, was not conducive and presented many challenges when the President was embarking on his 10-day foreign travel.
He stated that although the Falcon was airworthy, it lacked certain facilities like a washroom and it couldn’t contain more than eight passengers.
The Bimbilla MP said since the President was embarking on a reputable business trip in multiple destinations, France, Belgium, South Africa, and back to the country, he required a large entourage.
Thus, hiring another aircraft to those destinations became the suitable option.
“In practical experience since the aircraft was acquired in 2010 whenever the aircraft is travelling to the eastern part of 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.
“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.
“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.”
His defence comes after the Ranking Member on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, filed an urgent question on Thursday, May 27, demanding full disclosure on the issue.
In a statement, he questioned why the President will refuse to use the official Presidential jet, which he claims is in good shape.
The North Tongu MP insisted that the President chose to rent an airbus flight which costs £15,000 an hour.
He estimated that the President’s recent trip to Europe and other parts of Africa cost the nation a whopping £345,000, i.e. ¢2,828,432.80 at the current exchange rate.
“Naked and blatant profligacy, look, this is the time that the youth are agitating with #FixTheCountryNow and you spend such amount in just 23 hours.
“This a total betrayal from a President who gave the assurance that he will come and protect the public purse. Is this how you protect the public purse?” He quizzed.
But responding to the allegation, Mr Nitiwul said although the presidential jet, the Falcon, is airworthy, more than eight people cannot board the aircraft.