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Of Jets, Armed Robbers And Accident Victims   
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I must admit that when I heard Ghana was going to purchase some military planes, I was quite happy about the news. And why not? Our armed forces need to be well-equipped. The point is that we either disband our air force and navy and watch thousands lose their jobs, or equip them adequately to be able to support our ground troops when required.

And no one knows when their services may be required. Was it not only recently that the Ivory Coast started making noises about Ghana encroaching on their oil fields and also helping their rebel soldiers? The instability in their country means they have other pressing issues to deal with at the moment. If in due course, their political problems are solved, and if they should then see their neighbor flourish into a middle income country with oil from a field so close to their border, you never know what they might want to do. It has happened elsewhere.

It is essential therefore, at least in the West Africa sub region, that we are seen as a military powerhouse capable of looking after ourselves and no pushovers for anybody. That would serve as a deterrent to others who harbor aggressive intentions towards us. Five military planes would not turn us into a military force, but at least it is a start.

There was also an executive jet of some description that, apparently, was going to be used to transport our peacekeepers and hopefully, God willing, could be leased to the United Nations. “God willing”, because one would have thought, that if a country was going to spend millions of dollars to purchase a plane and hope to recoup some of the money by leasing it to an organization, that they would have at least sought some commitment from the said organization to factor into their calculations.

No. Ebeye yie!! We will lease it to the UN!! Be that as it may, having an executive jet for the military is not a bad idea. Apart from transporting our troops occasionally and being “leased” to the UN, the plane would be available to be used by the president and his entourage in their travels. A lot has been made of the British Prime Minister travelling on commercial aircrafts with the implication that it is rather superfluous for presidents in lower middle income countries to travel in presidential jets.

A plane leaves Heathrow airport every minute to all parts of the world. The British prime minister can get unto a commercial flight in minutes. And when he has to travel to places like Iraq and Afghanistan, the air force readily put jets at his disposal. Kotoka cannot compete with Heathrow and we do not expect our president to be sleeping in airports on transit or depending on the goodwill of other countries to put planes at his disposal. We need a presidential jet of some sort.

Again, when the Black Stars had to play a match in Congo and then travel round the world to play against South Korea three days later, the executive plane would have come in handy even if it would have meant asking the GFA to pay for the service albeit at a cheaper rate than the commercial flights they had had to charter. That would have meant the GFA paying less, the money staying in Ghana and our players being more comfortable – Everybody wins.

Then, the minority, as we very well expect them to do, started asking difficult questions and the government lost its nerve completely. Suddenly, the planes were going to be used to transport accident victims from accident sites. Right! That’s a good one, believe me. All over the world, countries have helicopter ambulances to transport the injured. Helicopters can land in the middle of the road and they can reach the remotest corner of the country in minutes. But jets? That is another first for Ghana.

But the best was yet to come. The planes were going to be used to chase armed robbers, and this is coming from a minister of information. Armed robbers! How equipped are our police? Do they have enough vehicles? Could they do with a police helicopter to not only “chase armed robbers” but also monitor traffic and activities like illegal mining and to generally keep the peace? I know we have found oil but buying jets to chase armed robbers? Well, in Ghana everything is possible, as they say.

In the midst of all the confusion, the president had to go to visit flood victims in the Eastern Region. “Atta Mills Defends Purchase of Jets” I read the banner headlines and momentarily gave a sigh of relief. At last some sensible explanation from the president. “The jets can be used to rescue flood victims” he said. I gave up the will to live immediately. If this is how my country is being run, then I weep for Ghana.
Source: Papa Appiah [email protected] Papaappiah.blogspot.com

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