Member of the Council of State, Samuel Okudzeto, says the constant attacks on President Nana Akufo-Addo over the cost of his travels are not productive for the country.
Speaking to JoyNews’ Kwesi Parker Wilson, he argued that the citizenry spends more time criticising the travels rather than looking at the benefits derived from them and their impact on the country.
“When he was going to Germany, there was hue and cry. ‘Why is he travelling? He takes these expansive planes? It costs so much per day.’ People do not understand what diplomacy is all about. Diplomacy is an expensive process, but there are always benefits.
“The President cannot sit down there in the Jubilee House and think all these [benefits] will just be coming to us. I don’t think it (attacks) is productive and helps the country,” Mr Okudzeto said.
The Council of State member added that despite the impact of Covid-19 on economies all other Heads of State are travelling to other diplomatic gatherings which could help revive economies among others.
“He (President Akufo-Addo) was invited by the people so he has to go. We spend more time criticising than sometimes looking at the benefit that comes to us because we don’t even study the system,” he said.
His comment comes after Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa revealed he is set to file another urgent question in Parliament to demand full disclosure on the cost of the President’s foreign travels.
The Ranking Member on Foreign Affairs Committee alleged that President Akufo-Addo’s three recent foreign trips cost the taxpayer a whopping GH₵10 million.
Mr Ablakwa, in his latest submission, is accusing the President of chartering a luxurious jet costing the taxpayer GH₵3.7 million for his current trip to the United States.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Newsnight on Tuesday, the legislator said “the fundamental objection to this chartering of luxurious aircraft is that we have a functioning Presidential jet. It is in a pristine state, it has not gotten to the end of its lifespan.”
However, the Council of State Member believes that if there are concerns over the President’s travels, propositions can be made to explore other ways he can travel rather than the “daily wholesale attacks” rained on him.
“That is why I am saying that as a nation we can agree on certain basic principles so that we all operate upon them instead of these attacks,” he added.
In May 2021, Mr Okudzeto stirred controversy when he alleged the nation paid £15,000 an hour as the President opted for luxurious aircraft instead of using the Presidential jet on his travels to France, Belgium and South Africa.
The Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee told JoyNews the President is abusing his discretionary power by not using the presidential jet for his foreign travels.
He filed a question, and Parliament summoned Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, to answer questions on the cost and why Ghana’s presidential jet was not used.
The Minister justified the President’s decision to rent the aircraft, arguing that the capacity of the presidential aircraft can no longer carry the President’s entourage.
He told the House that the Finance Minister is best to provide those details regarding the cost incurred on the trip.
Not satisfied with this answer, Mr Ablakwa filed another question to summon the Finance Minister to discuss the cost.
Ken Ofori-Atta appeared before Parliament and noted that questions on the cost and travels of the President will be best answered by the National Security Ministry.
Whilst the nation is yet to be informed of the actual cost incurred by both trips, the former Chief of Staff has suggested an alternative method that can be adopted to halt the extravagant lifestyle of leaders at the expense of taxpayers.
Kwadwo Mpiani, in an interview with JoyNews on Wednesday, noted that policies that will oblige Presidents to pay for their private foreign travels will protect the public purse.
In early September 2021, Mr Ablakwa again alleged that the President hired another luxurious aircraft on his recent foreign trips to the UK and Germany.
Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, revealed that the nation paid GH¢3.4 million for President Akufo-Addo’s recent trips to the United Kingdom and Germany.
But, the Director of Communications at the Jubilee House has dismissed the claims stating that the information put out by Mr Ablakwa on the Presidents’ recent travel, is false, adding that President Akufo-Addo did not use a Luxembourg-based aircraft registered LX-DIO as suggested by the MP.
Meanwhile, the North Tongu MP in his post on social media, on Tuesday, accused the President’s Spokesperson of “peddling falsehood” especially when he was unable to provide alternative facts.