The First Lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, says she can’t accept the emoluments approved for her by Parliament.
She has thus decided to refund to the state, all the monies paid her since 2017, which amounts to GHS899,097.84.
This was captured in a statement signed by Korkor Bleboo, the Director of Communications at the Office of the First Lady.
“The First Lady, in consultation with the President of the Republic, has decided to refund all the monies paid to her as allowances from the date of the President’s assumption of office, i.e., from January 2017 to date, amounting to GHS899,097.84.”
“The First Lady has also decided not to accept any monies that have been allocated to be paid to her, pursuant to the recommendations of the Ntiamoa-Baidu committee, as approved by Parliament. She is doing this as a purely personal decision, without prejudice to the rights of others, and not to undermine the propriety of the process undertaken by Parliament.”
In the statement, Mrs. Akufo-Addo’s Director of Communications argued that the First Lady did not request to be paid any allowance and that “she only received that which existed and [was] attached to her status, albeit informally.”
According to the statement, the wife of the president took the decision because the discussions that greeted the announcement of the allowance payments have been laced with some extremely negative opinions, which she finds distasteful as such commentaries only seek “to portray her as a venal, self-seeking and self-centered woman, who does not care about the plight of the ordinary Ghanaian.”
The First Lady’s action comes on the back of the backlash government had received after it came to the fore that, a recommendation for the First and Second Ladies to receive monthly salaries had already been approved by Parliament.
Ghanaians were further livid because it was disclosed that, the First and Second Ladies will be receiving salaries equivalent to cabinet ministers.
The recommendations were made by the five-member Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu committee set up in June 2019 by President Nana Akufo-Addo to make recommendations on the salaries and other gratuities of Article 71 officeholders.
Lawsuits against allowances for presidential spouses
Two suits have already been filed at the Supreme Court to challenge the payments.
The opposition National Democratic Congress, as well as the Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA), have also served notice of going to court over the same issue.
Attempts to sneak 1st & 2nd Ladies under Article 71 officeholders problematic’ – Mahama
Former President, John Dramani Mahama, had earlier voiced out his opposition to the way the Akufo-Addo government is handling emoluments for spouses of sitting and former Presidents and Vice Presidents.
In a statement, Mr. Mahama suggested that the Akufo-Addo government is attempting to “sneak the First and Second Ladies into the article 71 office holders’ group”, saying “This is clearly problematic.”
Mr. Mahama argued further that the new emoluments are tantamount to altering an entrenched clause in the constitution without due process.
“Article 71 is an entrenched clause in the 1992 Constitution, and nothing short of a referendum can be used to amend or vary that clause as per article 290 of the Constitution,” he explained.
“The Committee, and indeed the government, cannot use a short-cut to circumvent well laid-out constitutional rules,” added.
Presidential spouses have no defined roles; they can’t be paid salaries – TUC
The Trades Union Congress (TUC), also rejected the Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee’s recommendation for wives of Presidents and Vice Presidents to be paid monthly salaries.
The group insisted that the spouses have not been assigned any specific roles in the constitution and “therefore, they are not qualified to receive salaries from the public purse.”