“it does not require many words to speak the truth.” – Okudzeto to Eugene Arhin

Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency - Volta Region

It was Chief Joseph who famously remarked that “it does not require many words to speak the truth.”

The 6-page prolix from Mr. Eugene Arhin appears to say much about nothing.

At the end of a rather circumlocutory and depressing read, one is left with a clear impression that officials at Ghana’s presidency are now being tormented by pangs of conscience and the fury of the Ghanaian people after being exposed, that despite a loud promise to protect the public purse, President Akufo-Addo has engaged in the most obscene dissipation and utter profligacy on chartered ultra-luxury jets when Ghana owns a Presidential Jet in pristine condition.

I must, however, express gratitude to the lavish Presidency for yet another confirmation and affirmation of the outcome of all our diligent and unimpeachable tracking of President Akufo-Addo’s ostentatious escapades over the last 13-months — during which period, the President’s 8 oligarchic charters have cost the struggling Ghanaian taxpayer a frightening GHS34million.

Mr. Eugene Arhin seems chronically allergic to truth. Ghana’s Presidential Jet, the Dassault Falcon 900EX was not manufactured for short haul travel as Mr. Arhin claims. The Falcon 900EX version is a long-range business tri-jet aircraft which features three Honeywell TFE731-60 turbofan engines, improved central fuel tank capacity plus an additional rare tank, with a range of 8,340km (4,501nm; 5,180 miles).

Ghana’s Falcon 900EX can fly at least 9-hours non-stop before requiring a refueling break.

I note a wearisome effort to provide a long list of self-serving achievements from President Akufo-Addo’s trips abroad — is Mr. Eugene Arhin suggesting that the President wouldn’t have achieved same if he had used our Presidential Jet? It is quite apparent that apart from frugality, empathy and transparency, logic is the other missing commodity at the seat of government.

Like many, I wonder about the relevance of touting the President’s extensive travel history before joining public service, particularly, when the Presidency failed to provide any scintilla of evidence that Nana Akufo-Addo as a private citizen ever chartered a €20,000 an hour ultra-luxury jet.

Many Ghanaians miss the legendary and inspiring modesty of the Mills/Mahama era; it was the genuine desire of both leadership and the citizenry after the 2008 elections that Ghana did not have to purchase two Presidential Jets — the decision to cut back remains one of our proudest moments, irrespective of what the aristocratic Akufo-Addo presidency thinks.

The Akufo-Addo-led government must understand that public funds belong to the people and leaders have no choice but to be accountable to them. It is most offensive and absolutely abominable that after 9-pages of two long-winding statements, Ghana’s Presidency refuses to address the following:

1) The cost of Akufo-Addo’s Arabian King travels?

2) Who advised the President not to use the Presidential Jet for long-haul travel?

3) Why the choice of the most expensive jets in the fleets of the luxury aviation companies so far contacted?

4) Why is government refusing to account to the people’s representatives in Parliament after I offered the Ministers of Finance, Defence and National Security golden opportunities with my Parliamentary Questions?

Financial oversight and rigorous checks and balances remain the cardinal responsibilities of Members of Parliament in every functioning democracy — I shall not shirk that noble obligation imposed on me by the 1992 Constitution, regardless of the personal attacks and pathetic diatribes from lackeys of the President. As MP, Hon. Nana Akufo-Addo ensured President Jerry John Rawlings (God bless his soul) was democratically “kept in check” including opposing his decision to purchase a new Presidential Jet (the Gulfstream GIII), as the Parliamentary Hansard affirms.

President Akufo-Addo cannot promise to protect the public purse, appeal to Ghanaians facing the harshest economic conditions in more than two decades, and be compounding our economic predicament by the financial burden his extravagant lifestyle imposes on suffering Ghanaians. It is probably not too late for him to learn from some of his colleagues on the continent such as the Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera who announced he will not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda (same event President Akufo-Addo arrived in a €20,000 an hour ultra-luxury jet) and the Opec Fund Development Forum in Vienna, Austria this month. President Chakwera reportedly saved his country US$261,000 from declining both invitations which he thought his ambassadors and ministers could handle to save money. That’s a sensitive leader who cares about the travails of his people, especially when he is implementing austerity measures back home — leadership by example, they say.

Ghana’s battered public purse still belongs to we the people, and absolutely nothing is going to stop us from demanding prudence and accountability.

A luta continua; vitória é certa!