Editor of the Insight Newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr., says once the Ghana Air Force has requested for equipment to help them function efficiently, the state has to find the resources to fund the acquisition of those equipment, and therefore sees nothing wrong with government’s decision to purchase five new aircrafts for the Air Force as long as it not for the use by the Executive.
“…it is left with the country to decide whether when it comes to the defence of the country the Air Force plays an integral part and therefore needs to be fitted professionally, or whether the Air Force is not needed, hence the decision to purchase the planes should be discarded,” he said.
Mr. Pratt had argued passionately a couple of years ago, against the purchase of two air crafts by the erstwhile Kufuor administration, though one was for use by the Executive and the other by the military.
There was a very heated debate between Minority and their Majority counterpart in Parliament on Thursday, July 21, over the NDC government’s decision to purchase five new aircrafts at a cost of Euro 71 million and $105,370, 177.09.
The Minority questioned the propriety of the Mills’ administration to purchase the aircrafts, arguing that their purchase could have an adverse effect on the economy. They also believe that the sums quoted for the aircrafts have been inflated.
But speaking to the issue on PEACEFM’s “Kokrokoo” Morning Show, Mr. Pratt pointed out that so far as the request is from the military, it therefore means purchasing the aircraft is necessary.
“I objected to the then Kufuor administration’s decision to acquire two presidential jets but they acquired one which President Mills is using as executive jet and when President Mills came, he said he was going to purchase one and I objected to that too. But this is for the Air Force and we have to make a decision whether we want an Air Force or not. If we want an air force, then there is the need to buy the planes but if we don’t want the Air Force, then there wouldn’t be the need to buy any planes,” he noted.
He underscored the importance to equip the country’s Air Force pointing out that even neighbouring Togo has acquired Jaguar Aircrafts for use by its army.
“I don’t know much about the Air Force but the little I know is that Togo Air Force uses Jaguar aircraft…so I am not saying it is going to happened but in the event of a war with Togo, are we going to ask our under-resourced Air Force to face Togo? If we want an Air Force, we have to build it and building it means we must purchase aircraft for the Air Force,” he added.
The outspoken journalist however raised concerns with some explanations offered by the government in the wake of the brouhaha over the decision to purchase the five aircrafts saying some of the justifications coming from government spokespersons do not make sense to him.
“What bothers me is that those justifying the purchase of the air craft are only confusing issues and making matters worse. They are saying we need the aircraft to protect our oil find; meanwhile we have only 12% of the oil with other shareholders. So if we want to protect the oil, why don’t all the partners in the Jubilee Field contribute in providing security because they stand to lose more? Why do we have to use our 12% to buy aircraft to protect the oil find while they take their monies home? If we have to protect the oil resources, then all those who have interest in the oil reserve will have to contribute to its protection,” he noted.