The Presidency has rebutted claims by the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, that €480,000 was spent on President Nana Akufo-Addo’s recent trips to Belgium and Rwanda.
A statement signed by the Director of Communications, Office of the President, Eugene Arhin said the claims by the MP "are not accurate, and as a Member of Parliament, I was hoping he would have been factual and truthful in his claims, and resisted the urge to engage in propaganda".
According to the Presidency, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo did not travel to Belgium aboard a chartered Airbus ACJ319, as claimed by the North Tongu MP in a post on social media.
“The President travelled to Belgium onboard an Air France Commercial Flight (AF0584), which departed Accra on Sunday at 7:20 pm, made a stop-over in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and then continued to Paris,” the statement said.
The statement further disclosed that all of President Akufo-Addo’s 12-member delegation travelled on commercial flights.
Upon arrival in Paris, the statement said President Akufo-Addo and his delegation travelled via train to Brussels to attend the European Development Days event, where, on Tuesday, 21st June 2022, he was a keynote speaker.
However, because of a strike in the Belgian aviation sector, the statement said President Akufo-Addo had to travel via charter flight to Kigali because of flight cancellations.
“This was done to ensure that the President made it to Kigali on time to participate in the ground-breaking ceremony on Thursday, 23rd June, for the commencement of work on the Pan-African Vaccine Manufacturing Project, involving Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal and BioNTech SE, the German biotechnology company, as well as attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which also is being held in Kigali, Rwanda,” the statement said.
“I do not think the Member of Parliament for North Tongu is suggesting, in any shape or form, that the President, in view of these challenges in Brussels and also in view of the President’s security, should have travelled from Brussels to Amsterdam or London, for example, in the forlorn hope of trying to get a flight to Rwanda.”
Ablakwa doubles down
Mr Ablakwa has since doubled down on his earlier claims in another Facebook post.
He posted: "Mr. Eugene Arhin ought to know that when you charter an aircraft, you are billed for the distance covered to arrive at the pick-up point, you are also billed for the waiting period which includes waiting time for the passenger, layover period for crew rest and the return leg (as this was not an “empty leg” or “dead head” charter)".
He also explained how he arrived at the €480,000 figure.
"D-Alex flew 1 hour and 19minutes from Germany to Belgium, 8 hours and 40minutes from Brussels to Kigali, did a layover for some 5 hours before flying back to Germany at an 8hour and 15 minutes flight duration. This is how we arrived at our rather generous 21-hour cost analysis. It should be noted that in addition to the hourly rates, other industry charges such as landing charges, ramp fees, reposition fees etc. always apply.
"It is terribly unacceptable and woefully undemocratic that the statement from the Presidency refused to disclose to Ghanaians the cost of the President’s latest sybaritic adventure".