The Deputy Majority Leader in Parliament, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, has disclosed that Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa’s comments on President Akufo-Addo’s travels is based on “political mischief”.
According to him, the North Tongu legislator, during the tenure of former President John Mahama and President Mills, did not disagree to the use of chartered flights by the former Presidents. Commenting on this, Mr Afenyo-Markin was of the view that Mr Ablakwa when talking about luxury travels, justified his argument by stating that Ministers of “state were flying business”. However, the Deputy Majority leader quipped as to whether he had calculated the sum of their expenses.
Mr Afenyo-Markin made these revelations based on Mr Ablakwa’s insistence on filing another urgent question in Parliament to demand full disclosure on the cost of the President’s foreign travels.
“Has he put together the cost of all the ministerial travels? Why didn’t they insist on flying economy but flew business?”
“He didn’t have any issue with that for the eight years that they were in office. Whatever he is doing is borne out of political mischief. Why is Mr Ablakwa not talking about President Mahama’s official travels by use of chartered aircraft? He has not talked about it, not once”.Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin
Chartered flight for Presidents
Following this, Mr Afenyo-Markin, who doubles as the MP for Effutu explained that Mr Ablakwa’s “luxury flights” allegations, creates an impression that this is the first time a President of Ghana has chartered flights for international travels.
Furthermore, Mr Afenyo-Markin revealed that President Akufo-Addo on some occasions uses the presidential jet and in cases where he made use of a chartered flight it was not done for luxury purposes.
The Deputy Majority Leader then noted that the President is well aware of the current economic crisis and will not misuse public funds.
“In May when ECOWAS held a session in Abuja, he travelled to Abuja using the presidential jet. The decision to use another aircraft [for other travels] was well-founded. I expect him [Ablakwa] to at least, give us some minimum respect”.Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin
Prior to this, Mr Ablakwa had alleged that President Akufo-Addo’s three recent foreign trips costed the taxpayer a whopping GH₵10 million. In his latest statement, however, he is accusing the President of chartering a luxurious jet costing the taxpayer GH₵3.7 million for his current trip to the United States.
According to Mr Ablakwa, “the fundamental objection to this chartering of luxurious aircraft is that we have a functioning Presidential jet. It is in a pristine state, it has not gotten to the end of its lifespan”.
Reacting to this, Mr Afenyo-Markin advised that the North Tongu MP should be not be partial in his disapprovals about the Presidential travels. He also noted that he does not think the use of chartered flights by the President for some of his trips is as a result of the need to have luxury.
“With all the considerations available, to the government, there are more good reasons to rely on other available means for travel other than the one he thinks should have been the approach at all cost. If it is all about our presidential jet not being used for certain travels, it did happen in the government he served”.Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin