According to Eugene Arhin, Director of Communications at the White House, the government is in the process of procuring a larger aircraft for presidential flights.
At a press conference at Jubilee House on Monday, he added, “Government is now in the process of purchasing a larger jet for use.”
Mr Arhin was responding to a query about whether the government planned to purchase a larger aircraft to transport the President and his entourage on official international trips, as the present presidential plane had proven insufficient.
He explained that the initiative to procure a larger, more appropriate aircraft was part of a cost-cutting strategy for the President’s and other key state officials’ visits.
Mr Arhin did not go into detail about the aircraft sale, but said the Defence Minister will provide more information when the time came.
The President’s abroad visits have recently sparked debate on the airways and on social media, with some Ghanaians questioning why the President must fly in chartered private planes while the government has a fully operational presidential jet.
The present Presidential aircraft, a falcon 900EX purchased during the reign of former President John Kufuor, however, does not fulfill the President’s travel demands or security, according to Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul.
“Except for the crew, this airplane will carry a load of 11 people. When flying to the east coast of the United States or Asia, this aircraft will not carry more than eight passengers including luggage. As a result, it is dependent on the destination.
“Secondly, I have also said the aircraft has to do refuelling stops, and also in this COVID-19, when you are travelling to multiple destinations like the president’s recent travel, the Falcon couldn’t have been taken because he would have had to do technical stops which are not desirable, and when he is travelling with more than 20 people like he has been doing for business trips that brought huge sums of money for this country, he will need more than just a Falcon, otherwise, the others would have to go a day ahead before the president to prepare themselves,” he said.
Former President Kufuor before leaving office in 2008, made provisions for the procurement of two aircrafts for the Ghana Air Force, which included a larger jet for use by the President and his delegation on state travels. But the deal was, however, abrogated by the Mills administration.
According to the Defence Minister, if that arrangement had been held, that bigger aircraft would have been deployed for the strategic lifting of troops and could be reconfigured into a presidential jet for the president’s travels to save the country the huge amounts spent for delegation who travelled ahead of the president.
He told a private radio station in Accra that since the cancellation of the deal for the acquisition of the bigger aircraft by the Mills administration, the country had spent in excess of USD 50 million on official trips of the government.
Touching on the issues arising from the appointment of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies Chief Executives (MMDCEs), Mr Arhin dismissed the allegation that some of the MMDCE’s nominated by the President were not originally shortlisted for those positions.
He said the claim by some civil society organisations that about 44 per cent of the MMDCEs were not recommended by the three-member committee that vetted their nominations, and 10 per cent of the nominees did not apply for the positions, was false.
The Communications Director stated that those allegations were based on a supposedly leaked report on the nominees shortlisted for the MMDCE positions.
“I can say on authority that that report was not the report that was submitted to the President,” he said, adding that the President was not bound by any law to resort to any report to hire or fire his appointees.
“He is not bound by the recommendations of any report. He decides what he has to do,” he said, stating emphatically that the President was satisfied with his appointments and unruffled by the threats that some of his appointees would not secure the two-thirds majority votes to gain approval of their local assemblies.
“It is a human institution so we expect that there would definitely be agitations. If at the end of the day, voting is conducted and a nominee is rejected, the President can renominate that person on two occasions.
“If on all the two occasions that person is rejected, the Constitution gives him the power to present somebody else. Agitation is a normal phenomenon of human life,” he said.
Mr Arhin also indicated that President Akufo-Addo had begun a process to assess the work programme of his ministers for the rest of 2021.
He explained that the consultative meeting with the Ministers will ensure they were in tune with the President’s agenda for his second term in government.
Mr Arhin said the President was scheduled to embark on a week’s tour of the Eastern and Ashanti Regions from Friday, October 1, 2021.