The Minister for Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, says the media has misinterpreted his explanation given on why President Akufo-Addo had to resort to renting a private jet for his international trips.
According to him, news publications flying around that he said the presidential jet is inconvenient and the President cannot even shower in it “are all inferences. The Ghanaian media makes interpretations to the speeches of people but I think the media all around the world is not expected to behave like that. If the media want to report something, it needs to report what they hear or what someone has written but if you report by inference, that is not journalism. This is the only part I feel the media didn’t capture well but all the other things were captured well.”
He noted that his point on the country needing a strategic airlift was the only point that was captured rightly. “The media is inferring from my statement. They are assuming this is what I said. A fraction of the media is saying I said President Akufo-Addo didn’t use the presidential jet because he cannot shower in it. That is a little preposterous. I never mentioned President Akufo-Addo’s name in that context, no one will ever say such a thing as it is not correct to say.”
Further explaining his position on government renting the private jet, he indicated that the presidential jet cannot accommodate a presidential delegation travelling for state business. “The presidential jet only carries a maximum of 15 people and that includes 4 crew members. Because of the President’s large delegation, the rest will have to travel well ahead of the President which will cost the state more money.”
The Minister added, “No President or anyone using an aircraft will have to shower straight away in the jet before going for a meeting. Even if you’re travelling in the jet for a conference, you will have to go a day or two ahead of time and sleepover. So you cannot freshen up immediately and go straight into any meeting.”
He motioned that the current presidential jet is a business jet and cannot accommodate a presidential delegation.
“Somewhere in the publication, it was said that I mentioned President Akufo-Addo. I didn’t even say the President’s name. I was making a case that the Airforce is asking for a new strategic jet. And I was making the case that the current aircraft is not suitable for what the Airforce is asking for. That is the context I made the statement and I didn’t even mention the President’s name. So if a media man will just write that I said ‘Akufo-Addo’ , then that is very disingenuous and that is not good journalism,” he intimated.
Dominic Nitiwul admitted that he has never seen the President shower in the jet and is not in the position to respond to claims attributed to him by the media.
North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa claims President Akufo-Addo has spent an amount of GHS 2.8 million on his recent travels to only South Africa and France, using the services of a private jet.
“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 legislator alleged in a post on Facebook.
He accused the President of blowing the money “to satisfy his insatiable appetite and comfort 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 accumulated flight travel of 23 hours; so at £15,000 an hour, it thus cost us a colossal £345,000. At the current exchange rate, that is a staggering GHS2, 828,432.80,” he posted.
The Minister for Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, responding to why the presidential jet was is not being used by the president noted 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, makes the aircraft not fit for purpose.
Answering an urgent question in Parliament from the North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa on the airworthiness of the aircraft, Dominic Nitiwul indicated that, the president cannot even take his shower on the aircraft.