The Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul has debunked reports indicating that President Akufo-Addo refused to fly the presidential jet on his trip to France because he prioritised showering over the cost of the flight.
On Wednesday in Parliament, the Defence Minister told the floor of the House that the presidential jet was not conducive and presented many challenges when the President was embarking on his 10-day foreign travel.
He stated that despite the Falcon jet being airworthy, it lacked certain facilities like a washroom and it couldn’t contain more than eight passengers.
“This aircraft will carry a load of 11 passengers minus the crew. When this aircraft is travelling to the eastern part of the United States of America or Asia, it will not load a crew of more than eight plus the luggage.
“In fact, the President would also have to go a day ahead because no president can shower in this aircraft. He cannot move from this aircraft straight into a meeting,” he stated.
But this comment, he says, has been misconstrued.
Speaking to Evans Mensah on Top Story, Wednesday, Mr Dominic Nitiwul explained that to ensure the safety of the President and his crew, the G-Kelt aircraft was hired following the present challenges with the Falcon jet.
“What we looked at was the safety of the passengers and the crew, not the amount involved in it. That is the first thing we look out for before we look at other factors. It doesn’t mean we don’t look at the amount but what we look at first is the safety of passengers. When it comes to the choice of the President’s travel, it is a schedule. It is determined by two groups of people; National Security and the Ministry of Foreign affairs.
“Also in this Covid Era, when you are travelling to multiple destinations like the President recent trade, Falcom jet couldn’t have been taken because we would have had to do technical stuff which are not desirable. When he is travelling with more than 20 people like he has been doing that has brought huge sums of money to this country the President may need not just the Falcom.
“At no point did I ever say that President Akufo-Addo cannot shower that is why he used the G-Kelt aircraft,” he said.
The decision to empoly the use of a more condusive aircraft he stated has saved the country some money.
According to him, the state would have incured additional cost if the presidential jet had been used instead.
He revealed that the team would have been flown earlier and camped at a hotel which would have come at a cost before the President arrives.
“I said that when a President has to travel like that it is unwise to use a small aircraft because the entire team has to travel two or three days before to wait for the President. The hotel bills alone cumulatively add up to the state and it is more expensive,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minority in Parliament has rejected the rationale behind the use of the G-Kelt aircraft that is said to cost £15,000 per hour.
The Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa stated that the actions of the President prove he is unwilling to protect the public despite encouraging Ghanaians to assist the government to recover the economy due to the adverse effects of the pandemic.
“The Minority is stating that the reasons provided by Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul to Parliament are an insult to the Ghanaian people. It does not make sense and we don’t see the head and tail of it.
“The other unturnable excuse is that the presidential jet as it is now, the President cannot take a bath. I mean the most ridiculous thing perhaps we have ever been told in Parliament. When the President is on land in Accra, does he take his bath every six and a half hours? Why is having a shower so important?” he asked.