Two MPs from the Minority Caucus have filed a suit at the Supreme Court intending to stop the payment of cabinet-level salaries to presidential spouses.
South Dayi and Builsa South MPs Rockson-Nelson Dafeamakpor and Clement Apaak, respectively, filed the joint.
In their view, the five-member Professor Ntiamoah-Baidu Committee which President Nana Akufo-Addo set up in June 2019 to review emoluments payable to Article 71 officeholders, exceeded its mandate by proposing that presidential spouses be paid cabinet-level salaries.
The reliefs sought by the two legislators are:
- A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 71(1) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, the Prof. Ntiamoah-Baidu Committee appointed by the President of the Republic of Ghana under Article 71(1), only had jurisdiction to make recommendations in respect of salaries, allowances payable, facilities and privileges of Article 71 office holders under the 1992 Constitution.
- A further declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 71(1) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, the Prof. Ntiamoah-Baidu Committee had no jurisdiction, mandate or authority to make any recommendations in respect of salaries, allowances payable, facilities and privileges of persons other than persons specified under Article 71 of 1992 Constitution.
- A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 71(1) of the 1992 Constitution, the Prof. Ntiamoah-Baidu Committee exceeded its jurisdiction, mandate and authority when it purported to make recommendations in respect of privileges, facilities, salaries and allowances payable to the 1st and 2nd Ladies of the Republic of Ghana.
- A further declaration that the recommendations of the Committee, to the extent that it pertains to the 1st and 2nd Ladies of the Republic of Ghana, are null, void and of no effect.
- A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of the Constitution, 1992, spouses of the President and the Vice President are not Article 71 office holders for the purposes of receipt of wages and emoluments.
- An order declaring the recommendations in respect of privileges, facilities, salaries and allowances payable to the 1st and 2nd Ladies of the Republic of Ghana as unconstitutional and void.
- An order restraining the President of the Republic of Ghana or any other arm, ministry, department or agency of the executive, from implementing any recommendations of the Prof. Ntiamoah-Baidu Committee which pertains to the 1st and 2nd Ladies of the Republic of Ghana.
- Any further Order (s) or direction(s) as this Honourable Court may deem necessary.
Apart from the two legislators, the youth wing of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), in a press statement signed by National Youth Organiser George Opare Addo, said: “It is instructive to point out that we find the attempt to institutionalise the payment of salaries to the spouses of the President and the Vice-President as an attack on the Constitution of the country.”
“The provisions of article 71 of the 1992 Constitution is elaborate and unambiguous by listing the public officials bound to draw their salaries from the Consolidated Fund.”
Also, the Bono Regional Chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Kwame Baffoe, popularly known as Abronye DC, has filed a similar suit in court.
Additionally, Prof Ransford Gyampo of the University of Ghana has said regardless of the roles presidential spouses may play in supporting their husbands, “I personally do not think such roles should warrant salaries”.
In an article on the subject, Prof Gyampo said: “Their husbands are paid well enough to be able to cater for them”, arguing: “The current situation, not backed by law, would also open the floodgates to deepen more nepotistic appointments to the offices of the First and Second Ladies in a manner that may not augur well for the fight against corruption”.
Read Prof Ransford Gyampo’s full article below:
- There may be nothing wrong to evolve a convention to pay some allowances to the wives of former heads of state, who may have passed away. I am told Rawlings actually [started] this gesture and out of his sense of magnanimity and compassion Kufuor continued, and it’s been extended to include the wives of sitting Presidents and Veeps. The payment of these allowances over the years, have not been backed by any specific law but have been treated as benefits of the principals themselves.
- The current Ntiamoah Baidu Commission, I am told, only made a recommendation to formalise the already existing arrangement, and this was approved by Parliament. It may therefore not be entirely accurate for anyone to suggest that President Akufo-Addo has personally decided that the first and second ladies should be paid like cabinet ministers.
- Those in support of this whole idea believe it makes sense to give some allowances or salaries to wives of those top officials who actually work and support what their husbands do. It’s been argued that some run foundations in support of the poor and others represent their husbands at public functions etc. Given the supposed role they play, some believe it shouldn’t be a big deal for the First and Second Ladies to be paid SALARIES, not allowances.
- But to my mind, the Rawlings-Kufuor gesture of paying some ALLOWANCES to the wives of former heads of state, who may have passed on, out of excess compassion, must be distinguished from paying SALARIES to the wives of sitting Presidents and Veeps. This is because the Offices of the First and Second Ladies are merely ceremonial. They are dysfunctional institutions that are not provided for in our Statute Books.
- Regardless of the role they may play in supporting their husbands, I personally do not think such roles they play should warrant salaries. Their husbands are paid well enough to be able to cater for them. The current situation, not backed by law, would also open the floodgates to deepen more nepotistic appointments to the offices of the First and Second Ladies in a manner that may not augur well for the fight against corruption.
- But if as a nation, we think we have gotten to that epoch in our governance process where such personalities have to be paid salaries, the decision shouldn’t be based on such a porous recommendation and an illegal parliamentary approval process. Rather, we must do the following:
A. Agree on the exact and specific roles to be played by First and Second Ladies to shape the conduct of governance in Ghana’s body politic.
B. Agree on the Number of Staff they are entitled to work with and their specific job descriptions.
C. Determine what other logistics and incentives they may be entitled to and make provisions for these in budgets
D. Amend the list of article 71 officeholders to include First and Second Ladies
E. Empower them to work also as public officials
Until these are done, we must prioritise and stop the pressure we keep piling on the Consolidated Fund.
- On the loans for MPs to procure new vehicles, this is sad and only goes to typify our feature as extravagant poor people. Some public officials purchase second-hand vehicles that are ten years old and still pride themselves with the “newness” of such vehicles which they call “brand new second-hand”. Other public officials keep their official vehicles for four years and purchase them at a pittance afterwards.
- If loans can truly be sourced for this very wastefully needless purpose of buying brand new vehicles, such a facility must be given to the Korlebu Teaching Hospital to procure needed health infrastructure, and bill patients who go use such facilities to defray the loan. The fact that the loan may be re-paid by the MPs shouldn’t be the focus of any discussion. For, as constituent servants, MPs cannot continue to live in luxury whiles hospitals for their constituents remain death traps. If there is any loan facility, it must be given to only new MPs.
- We must rethink our priorities as a country. Let the Consolidated Fund be freed from politically luxurious and frivolous expenses and let there be enough resources for President Akufo Addo to use in embarking projects that benefit ordinary needs of the Ghanaian and leaves a good legacy.
PAV Ansah Street
Saltpond & Suro Nipa House