We’ve had some interesting catch-phrases within our body-politic, especially in the 4th Republic. There was the time in the Jerry Rawlings’ regime that the presidential jet at the time was referred to as a “Flying Coffin”, mostly, by members of that administration.
What those with that description wanted Ghanaians to believe, was that the then Presidential Jet was not worth flying in it. It was so jerky it could possibly. put the life of the President, who would be travelling with it, in jeopardy. Summing it up, the state of the jet was a recipe for an imminent disaster.
There was also the other political jargon introduced by Captain Kojo Tsikata, the one-time National Security Advisor to Jerry John Rawlings. Rumours went viral that the man who many Ghanaians considered as the back-bone of the Rawlings’ P(NDC) had passed on.
Later Captain T, as Captain Tsikata, was then known, returned from a medical check-up in South Africa to assure Ghanaians that he was not ready yet to wear his “Wooden Pyjamas”. That figuratively, meant he was not ready to die or be laid in a coffin or accept the coffin as companion.
Once upon a time, Ghanaians referred to the Ghana International Conference Centre as a “Glorified Bath House”. It was a negative reaction to the building of the Conference Centre for the Non Align Movement summit, held in Ghana in 1981.
The national outcry then, was that Ghana’s precarious financial position could not support the funding of the edifice. Today, there is still raging controversy over the purchase of a new Presidential Jet by the current administration.
Supporters and members of the governing party however, are not describing the current Jet in that derogatory manner as was in the past to justify the purchase of the Presidential Jet. Instead, they seem to back the official justification that the current Presidential Jet cannot accommodate the President and his entourage on his overseas trips. The instant reaction to the government’s position has been “does the president travel with his family including his grand-children on such overseas trips?”
In the current state of the COVID 19 pandemic where economies of many developed countries have been ravaged that badly, why would the President of the Republic be traveling with huge entourage on his foreign trips? Does that make any economic sense?
The traveling contingency of the Ghanaian President has often been compared to that of other African countries like the Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania. It’s on record that the Heads of State of these countries fly commercial flights or travel with the leanest of entourage.
At the recent Heads of State meeting under the auspices of the United Nations, the newly elected Zambian President, Hakainde Hichilema travelled with a three-member team that included the President.
So why will our President prefer travelling in ostentation in the midst of the harrowing COVID 19 pandemic? Talking of such, our President, according to Hon. Okudjeto Ablakwa, the minority spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, has since his abandoning of the state jet being traveling on plush Private Jets which least cost, is $14,000 per hour.
The President’s travelling in these Private Jets to the US, Germany and recently to Serbia for the Non Aligned Summit, therefore comes with a huge cost that is borne by the State. The highest cost for such individual Jets is close to $20,000 per hour.
What we cannot ascertain though, is whether the President travelled on the low or the high cost Private Jets. But granted, he’s even been using the lower $14,000 per-hour ones, the estimated cost should still be a concern to a country, where poverty and the prevailing COVID situation is rippling our economy apart.
Ironically, our Presidential Jet is serving some West African Heads of State with the President of Island country—Guinea Bissau, Umar Sissoko Emballo being the latest to access Ghana’s Private Jet on loan.
Before then, Ghana had also loaned our Jet to Liberian President, George Weah. So what will make these gentlemen prefer using Ghana’s Presidential Jet? It clearly shows that Ghana’s Jet is in perfect condition. Perhaps, these two Presidents do not fancy traveling with huge entourage and therefore, found Ghana’s State Jet more accommodating.
Are these not Presidents of our fellow West African countries? Yes, there are. And they also know how unnecessary spending by State officials can affect their country. Modesty is the key word of these other West African Heads of State. Is somebody at the presidency taking note
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