The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has replied the Ranking Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, over the usage of Ghana’s presidential jet by other heads of state.
The Ministry said it was a “proactive” gesture that undergirds the tenets of Ghana’s foreign policy.
Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa, who is also the Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency, had raised questions about the abandonment of the “pristine” Dassault Falcon 900-EXE by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the more “expensive” and “luxurious” Airbus ACJ320neo for his foreign travels.
Efforts by the opposition lawmaker to get the government to account for his travels are yet to yield results as the matter was said to have national security implications for Ghana.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP was recently taken aback as the presidential jet was used by Liberian leader George Manneh Oppon Weah to attend the Extraordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of Ecowas in Accra on Wednesday, September 8.
In a statement on Thursday, September 30, the Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed the use of the Falcon by President Oppon Weah.
“It is a common knowledge that as part of bilateral and multilateral diplomatic relations, various friendly states provide assistance of different forms to each other,” it noted.
“Thus, Ghanaian leaders have in the past been transported to different parts of the world on presidential aircraft of other states.”
It cited how former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, offered former President John Agyekum Kufuor a ride aboard Nigeria’s presidential jet.
The Ministry, therefore, confirmed that not only President Oppon Weah but also Sierra Leone’s Julius Maada Bio and Guinea Bissau’s Umaru Sissoco Embalo were airlifted from their respective countries to Accra for the emergency meeting on Guinea.
“This gesture went a long way to ensure the particiaption of almost all heads of state in the sub-region, though notice for the emergency meeting was very short.”
The Ministry noted that “in an era when Ghana’s leadership and citizenry are championing a renewal of Pan-Africanism across the continent and the diaspora, (with free trade taking off under the AfCFTA), Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwa’s insular posture comes as a surprise to the Ministry”.
“Indeed, our remit for regional integration remains a vital part of Africa’s urgent quest for unity. Thus we find any suggestion by the Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwa that the government of Ghana’s foreign policy initiatives, which foster African unity are irrelevant, rather strange.”
It stressed that Ghana was not going to bill any of the heads of state to whom the Falcon was made available.
“The Ministry therefore wishes to assure the good people of Ghana that the Government of Ghana is not on a quest to dissipate wantonly state resources, but is focused on pursuing a pragmatic foreign policy which fosters regional integration and good neighbourliness in a climate of peace and stability.”