Veteran journalist Abdul Malik Kweku Baako has called for a dispassionate and non-partisan discussion on trips by presidents and choice of airplanes for those trips.
Speaking on Peace FM, Kweku Baako counselled that, conversations on presidential jets have over the years been politicized which has not done the country any good.
According to him, some of Ghana’s past leaders had to deal with the issue of national uproar over presidential jets.
“Acheampong suffered for Fokker 28. Gulf Stream, Rawlings suffered for it. Falcon, Kufuor suffered from it.
Let me read this from Politics in Ghana “1972 to 1979, page 127 “In September 1978, a specialized jet plane, allegedly ordered by General Acheampong. The said plane had kente decorations inside it and among other tapering are Ghana’s coat of arms embroiled in it. There was much public outcry in the wake of which the head of the Armed Force public relations directorate said that the plane was not Acheampong’s then in a second statement the day after the same person said that the President ordered an airforce for the use of any president of Ghana. Later on, it was said that the plane was merely one of a series of planes ordered by the Airforce. But it should have been obvious that Ghana did not need such a plane at a time when there were no drugs in the hospitals and it was regrettable that government prepared to go into the full extent of the scandal and decide on how to commercialize the plane” he read
This matter is a reflection of Ghanaians and how we were thinking and indeed the student and youth movement made it one of the rallying points in agitation against Acheampong’s government. Same thing happened under Rawlings. It was still emotional and sentimental. At the end of the day was not his personal just like Acheampong. Same with Kufuor. When Kufuor was going for the falcon, people referred him to that.
Baako was addressing the issue President Akufo-Addo’s alleged $15,000 per hour aircraft to France and South Africa.
Okudzeto Ablakwa, the MP who made the allegations criticized the president for living in a luxury while Ghanaians struggle.
“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 May 25, was a five and half hour flight. This gives us accumulated flight travel of 23 hours, so at £15,000 an hour, it thus cost us a colossal £345,000. At the current exchange, that is a staggering ¢2,828,432.80.”
According to him, “President Akufo-Addo [who] has been a leading voice for debt forgiveness in the international arena has been imposing additional regressive taxes back home, with the justification that the economy isn’t in a good shape.”
“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,” Okudzeto Ablakwah said in a recent opinion piece circulated to the media.