A retired police officer and Member of Parliament for Wa West, Peter Lanchene Toobu, insists that the Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul’s justification for the non-use of the presidential jet for the President’s recent trips holds no water.
Mr. Nitiwul, who appeared in Parliament on Wednesday, June 16, 2021, explained that the ultimate consideration for the President’s travels in the supposed luxurious private jet was “safety.”
The Defence Minister explained that the challenges with the current presidential jet such as the limited passengers it can carry, the number of times required for refuelling on a trip, and luggage capacity among others, make the aircraft not fit for purpose.
But the retired police officer will have none of it.
He argues that putting the first gentleman of the land on a charter flight is much riskier.
“The Minister of Defence keeps stressing safety as the reason for the decision to go in for a private jet. I am surprised, that such a statement came from none other than him. Is he saying the foreign flight is safer? We don’t even know the pilot. This is a charter flight, how do you ascertain its security?”
“‘If we want to talk about security, then the presidential flight is more secure. Unless it is not airworthy. But if it is, it is safer for our president to use it than to go in for a jet he has little information on.”
Meanwhile, the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, who was scheduled to answer questions on the cost of President Akufo-Addo’s recent trips on Thursday, June 18, 2021, requested more time from Parliament after being notified over two weeks ago.
Mr. Toobu, who found this hard to accept, said “this is money that has been spent. Assuming you carry $2000 to the market you return $500, and you are asked to account for it, you say I need more time, how possible is that? How can you not know how much you spent?” he quizzed.
He however noted that the Minority will ensure that the government accounts for the monies spent on the president’s foreign trips.
“They cannot escape accountability, for that, we can guarantee, no matter how long it takes,” he said.
President Nana Akufo-Addo has been widely criticised after it came to the fore that his recent visit to France, Belgium, and South Africa were done using an expensive private jet.
The issue was first raised by the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who subsequently demanded answers from the Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul in Parliament.
Mr. Ablakwa says the Defence Minister’s response to the government’s decision to use a chartered flight for the President’s foreign travel is unsatisfactory.
In an interview with Citi News, he said, “Our Falcon has a 15 seater capacity with the crew. The President chartered the world’s most expensive private jet, which is a maximum of 19 seats. So it’s just a difference of four. There are other aircraft which are not this luxurious.”
“It has also emerged that, even after hiring this extravagant aircraft, there are other government officials who flew commercial to go and meet the President. So what did we actually achieve after abandoning the Falcon? Is this how we protect the public purse because of the extra four seats? Is this value for money?”, he again quizzed.