A letter from the office of the First Lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, to the Chief of Staff and copied to the Chief Director of the Jubilee House, has announced that she has released a cheque of GHS899,097.84 to the state to settle all allowances paid to her from January 7, 2017, to date.
This comes after the First Lady promised to refund all the allowances and also reject any new salaries approved for presidential spouses by the Ntiamoa-Baidu committee on emoluments for Article 71 officeholders.
Without pictorial evidence of a cheque to confirm the repayment of the allowances, the statement signed by an Aide at the office of the First Lady, Shirley Laryea, said “I am directed to forward, herewith, a Consolidated Bank Ghana Limited cheque number 000002 for an amount of GH0899,097.84 (Eight Hundred and Ninety-Nine Thousand Ninety-Seven Ghana cedis Eighty-Four pesewas) being the refund for monies received from 7th January 2017 to date as allowances given to Her Excellency the First Lady of the Republic. As disclosed by the statement issued on 12th of July, 2021, Her Excellency the First Lady of the Republic, is refunding the amount stated above and also takes this opportunity to decline any allowances to be paid to her in the future.”
The letter further stated that the “First Lady remains committed to her role as First Lady and is devoted to her charity work, championing the well-being of women and children in Ghana”.
In the earlier statement from her office rejecting the emoluments approved for her by Parliament based on the recommendations of the Ntiamoa-Baidu committee on emoluments for Article 17 officeholders, it said, “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.”
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.”
The government has come under fire 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.”