Late President Mills also rented private jets – Koku Anyidoho tells NDC

Founder of the Atta Mills Institute, Koku Anyidoho, has jabbed members of the NDC gnashing their teeths at President Akufo-Addo for his recent travels indicating President Atta Mills also rented private jets.

Reacting to the public debate on Ghana’s presidential jet following a disclosure by the Presidency that plans were underway to procure a new and bigger aircraft, the ousted NDC member revealed in an interview on Accra-based Okay FM that the late Head of State after a program in the United States of America had to fly a chartered flight to Venezuela for another program.

Koku said it would have taken the late President a week had H.E. Atta Mills not used the private jet.

Touting his experience and close working relations with the late President J.E.A. Mills, Mr Anyidoho elaborated the difficulties President Mills went through especially on international travels, when he opted to travel commercial.

He said when President Mills took over power in 2009, the Falcon had already been paid for by his predecessor [President Kufuor] and abrogating the contract would have led to a judgment debt. “So in the interest of the state, the Falcon was accepted… but to be frank, without engaging in NDC/NPP politicking, the Falcon had issues.”

He said the argument that the Falcon has occupancy challenges is true and not a “lie.” So President Mills preferred flying commercial a number of times instead of using the Falcon during his tenure.

This, he said enabled President Mills to avoid stopping to refuel with the Falcon on long travels which also came with additional cost.

He said the opposition by President Mills to the procurement of a new presidential jet and the reason he cancelled the order for a bigger one in addition to the Falcon had to do with the “individual [Mills] and his personal approach to the whole issue of governance.”

“So President Mills didn’t find it appropriate most of the time” to travel with the Falcon and so it was reserved mainly for short hauls in the African region.

He said once it was outside the African region, President Mills used commercial and cited an instance in 2010 when he used Namibian Airways to South Africa to watch the World Cup.

In all this, Mr Anyidoho said the “security people were not happy because it was unsafe and it inconvenienced other passengers on the commercial flights in the process.

“This whole business of how we take care of our presidency, how we manage the presidency,” Mr Anyidoho said was something that needs to be looked at in the broader public debate.

Making reference to the Falcon where he said if the President has to take a “leak” whilst in flight, he needs to squeeze himself through the cabin and into the shared washroom. “Let us treat our President’s in dignity. President Mills, some of the things that, today, today as I sit down here, sometimes I think that man [Mills] was not treated fairly [by us] and that as much as he was a humble person, maybe we allowed his humility to run us all into some small blind alleys.”

“Yes, [we could have said that] you want to be humble as a President but with all due respect, Mr President, because of safety, because of this, because of that, the Republic is unable to allow you to be humble below a certain level. Yes, humility is good, we agree, you don’t want per diem, no problem, but for the sake of your safety and the corporate safety of the sovereign Republic of Ghana, we will not allow your humility to go below a certain level.”

Mr Anyidoho said some of his colleagues and some of the people spearheading the argument on the presidential jet currently and had the opportunity to serve in President Mills’ government were not at the presidency, even though some of them were deputy ministers, CEOs, they didn’t get first hand information and that is why their arguments are sometimes flawed.

“My experience in governance [as Director of Communication], because of my unique role as a speech writer, a spokesperson, managing the President’s PR, I got to be with the President for almost all his travels. Some of the aides and staffers were never with the President because their roles did not permit them to be around the President on such trips and that is why some of them got angry…, and today they open their mouths and want to run me down but that is their business. If you had no role around the President, then those of us with roles, will not just carry you on a trip if you had no real role around him [President]. Those trips were not for funfair, they were for hard work. So if you were a Director of Operations at the Presidency, you had no operations on a trip to China, Japan and UN, stay in Accra and do operations work and don’t get jealous of the Director of Communications who had hard work to do on those trips,” Mr Anyidoho said.

He said President Mills himself scrutinized the list for international trips and dropped some names who had no roles to play on the international trips.

“My experience at the presidency, when I speak, I speak from that experience.”