Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the First Lady has refunded all the monies (GHS899,097.84) paid to her since 2017 to the state saying she can’t accept the emoluments approved for her by parliament.
This was revealed in a statement signed by the Director of Communications at the Office of the First Lady, Korkor Bleboo.
”The First Lady, in consultation with the President of the Republic of Ghana, 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 five-member Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu committee set up in June 2019 by President Akufo-Addo to make recommendations on the salaries and other gratuities of Article 71 officeholders.
Lawsuit 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 and 2nd Ladies under Article 71 officeholders problematic – Mahama, Former President John 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.
I a statement, Mr. Mahama suggested that the Akufo-Addo government is attempting to ”sneak the 1st and 2nd Ladies into article 71 officeholder’s 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 emend 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,” he added.