By Eric Elezuo
The President of Ghana, Nana Akufo- Addo, has come under severe attacks for traveling on a luxurious chartered flight to Paris, France. This is even as divergent voices had risen in defence, providing reasons the president had to do what he did.
The story making the rounds says the septugenarian leader allegedly traveled to see French President, Emmanuel Macron on a mission to seek debt forgiveness.
Public opinion had however, berated the president for choosing to hire ‘a top-of-the-range luxury aircraft offered by Acropolis Aviation’ at a time when school children do not have adequate study facilities. This is even as there is a presidential aircraft procured by former President John Kuffour, and used by Atta Mills and John Mahama. But defenders of the of the president have said that the presidential jet is rather too small and cannot travel long distances without stopping at various intervals to refuel.
A statement, supposedly written by one Hon Samuel Okudzeto outlined the folly behind the president’s decision and actions.
Read the write up below:
“President Akufo-Addo has been a leading voice for debt forgiveness in the international arena and back home has been imposing additional regressive taxes with the justification that the economy isn’t in a good place.
“Sadly, he consistently fails to lead by example in a period of austerity where his government is appealing to struggling public sector workers to lower wage increase expectations.
“It is an outrage and a blatant betrayal for Ghana to own a presidential aircraft in perfect working condition which was ordered by President Kufuor, used by President Mills and President Mahama; and yet President Akufo-Addo chooses to charter a top-of-the-range luxury aircraft offered by Acropolis Aviation.
“The Airbus ACJ320neo owned by Acropolis Aviation based in Farnborough, UK and registered as G-KELT is the most luxurious and the most expensive in the Acropolis fleet. The manufacturers describe it as “the most outstanding ambassador for Airbus Corporate Jets.” It costs the Ghanaian taxpayer approximately £15,000 an hour when President Akufo-Addo rents it.
“The aircraft in issue is less than two years old and had only returned from Switzerland where it received the highest luxurious spruce up ever known in the aviation world just before President Akufo-Addo chose that particular luxurious monster. The jet can take up to 150 people in ordinary circumstances, however, it has been configured to accommodate only 17 royal passengers. The spectacularly opulent aircraft comes equipped with a lavish master bedroom, an imposing en-suite bathroom, monarchial dining facilities and round the clock IT connectivity.
“President Akufo-Addo undoubtedly has the greatest taste any Ghanaian President has ever had but the question is, should that insatiable appetite for his creature comforts be at the expense of the suffering masses?
“Let’s further analyse President Akufo-Addo’s latest trip to Europe: per Flightradar24, the G-KELT aircraft left Accra with the President to Paris on the 16th of May — a 6 and half hour duration. Airlifted the President from Paris to Johannesburg for 11 hours on the 23rd of May. Then Johannesburg to Accra on the 25th of May was a five and half hour flight. This gives us an accumulated flight travel of 23 hours; so at £15,000 an hour, it thus cost us a colossal £345,000. At current exchange, that is a staggering GHS2,828,432.80.
“Aviation experts inform me it would have cost Ghana less than 15% of this 2.8million Ghana Cedis had President Akufo-Addo opted for Ghana’s available presidential jet which is in pristine condition. Alternatively, far more affordable travel arrangements are available which could have aligned with the President’s rhetoric for sympathy from the west for African nations.
“The irony is that President Akufo-Addo engaged in this fantastic extravagance on his way to France to go beg President Emmanuel Macron for debt cancellation. Needless to add that President MacRon does not travel in such splendour.
“Let us imagine what GHS2.8million could do for our country, particularly considering the mess in multiple sectors which has led to legitimate #FixTheCountryNow agitations by the youth.
“I have therefore filed an urgent question in Parliament to compel the Akufo-Addo administration to be accountable to the Ghanaian people on this matter and ultimately to prick their conscience to end this obscene profligacy at this time of considerable economic hardships.
“The African people deserve better from their leaders.”
However, quite a good number of voices have risen in defence of President Akufo-Addo for the step he took, and correcting the erroneous opinion held by Okudzeto. One of such voices is The Managing Director for the Accra Digital Center, Kofi Ofosu Nkansah.
In his justification of the president’s action, he said Ghana’s Presidential jet is smaller and cannot travel for longer hours and has to stop several times to be refueled.
“Dear Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, I have read your complaint on the President renting a bigger aircraft for long flights because it’s more expensive than using our Presidential jet. What you refuse to acknowledge is that, our Presidential jet which was bought many years ago, is not convenient for long hour flights.
The President travels to work on behalf of the People of Ghana. He cannot be using a small aircraft in a 11 hour flight from France to South Africa. Small aircrafts are not for long flights. It will even run out of fuel. I know he has tried it in the past and stopped a number of times to refuel but is that the best we want for our President? To be stopping like trotro to refuel. The safety of the President should be our utmost concern in such a discussion. Thank you”.
It is believed that the last has not been heard of the brouhaha this has generated.