Private Jet Brouhaha: And Okudjeto Ablakwa Hits Back....

Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has fired back at the ruling government.

The NDC MP, on Friday, claimed President Akufo-Addo ordered a top-of-the-range and most expensive aircraft— the Airbus ACJ319, registered as D-Alex for his recent trip to Belgium and Rwanda; "at a conservative bill of €480,000.00. The 480,000 Euros which is derived from 21 hours of total flight time plus other industry charges works out to some 4.1million Ghana Cedis at current exchange rate".

However, the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin in a statement said “these claims by the North Tongu MP are not accurate, and as a Member of Parliament, I was hoping he would have been factual and truthful in his claims and resisted the urge to engage in propaganda,” Mr Arhin stated, adding the President travelled to Belgium onboard an Air France Commercial Flight (AF0584).

But the NDC MP has another response.

According to him:

I have become aware of the Presidency’s response to my unimpeachable revelations that President Akufo-Addo has for the umpteenth time chartered an ultra-luxury executive jet on his current two-nation tour of Belgium and Rwanda.

It is absolutely noteworthy that the statement signed by Mr. Eugene Arhin confirms that indeed President Akufo-Addo chartered an executive jet.

The Presidency’s statement did not and could not have denied that they chartered the ostentatious €20,000 an hour ACJ319, registered D-Alex and operated by German-based K5-Aviation.

It is important to highlight that nowhere in my Facebook post did I suggest that President Akufo-Addo left Accra with the extravagant chartered jet. Avid followers of my exposés know that I have in the recent past called out and condemned the President’s profligacy when he has engaged in a similar “meet-me-there.”

To reasonable patriotic Ghanaians, it is certainly immaterial at what point the President who promised to protect the public purse decides to unconscionably and cruelly raid the purse — be it from Accra, Brussels, Kigali, London, Kabul, Nur-Sultan or Tbilisi — the value is the same.

Mr. Eugene Arhin ought to know that when you charter an aircraft, you are billed for the distance covered to arrive at the pick-up point, you are also billed for the waiting period which includes waiting time for the passenger, layover period for crew rest and the return leg (as this was not an “empty leg” or “dead head” charter).

D-Alex flew 1hour and 19minutes from Germany to Belgium, 8hours and 40minutes from Brussels to Kigali, did a layover for some 5 hours before flying back to Germany at an 8hour and 15minutes flight duration. This is how we arrived at our rather generous 21-hour cost analysis. It should be noted that in addition to the hourly rates, other industry charges such as landing charges, ramp fees, reposition fees etc. always apply.

It is terribly unacceptable and woefully undemocratic that the statement from the Presidency refused to disclose to Ghanaians the cost of the President’s latest sybaritic adventure.

In all sincerity, the over-elaborate waffle to blame the President’s latest reckless conduct on a strike defies logic seeing that he could have comfortably and safely found his way to Kigali just how he entered Brussels via Paris or through the many busy transit routes.

What is even more thoughtless and imprudent is the President’s unhinged penchant to charter the most expensive aircraft in the fleet of companies he contacts. That has been his character and pattern from the ACJ320neo from Acropolis Aviation, the LX-DIO from Global Jet Luxembourg and now the D-Alex from A5-Aviation. No empathetic world leader who genuinely cares and feels for his people in this period of considerable excruciating economic crisis would do that.

I also take note, that contrary to initial dubious claims that some unnamed shadowy “experts” had advised the President not to use Ghana’s Presidential Jet to Europe and destinations outside Africa, the infamous statement in issue reveals that for the first time in a very long time, the President is scheduled to fly to Lisbon, Portugal using Ghana’s Presidential Jet. One wonders what has changed.

We must not be distracted — Ghana has a functioning presidential jet in pristine condition. First Lady Mama Rebecca can confirm this as she’s the latest VVIP passenger of the aircraft.

Other “less fortunate” Presidents with even inferior and older presidential jets have kept faith with their presidential aircrafts, there can be no justification whatsoever for the grave insensitivity of President Akufo-Addo.