My grandmother has been disturbing me with her incessant questioning about where Ghana is headed. At her age, close to ninety-five (95) she still has the strength to listen to the radio and watch TV news. She mostly engages me in a chat after feeding on her news.
Her purpose? To lament how things have been changing in the country she toiled so hard to build alongside others. She usually tells me “things are no longer the same. In our time, we understood sacrificing for our dear country. It is not so today”. I always conclude our discussions by repeating the words “times have changed, Granny”. Lol… Funny. Isn’t it?
Well, the latest debate between us is whether it is right for Ghana’s first and second ladies to be paid as it is being discussed in the Ghanaian media space. Well, today, I decided to get her to analyze what an NPP stalwart, Abronyee DC is doing about the current issue.
Abronye has gone to the Supreme Court to sue Ghana‘s Parliament for their role in the recent brouhaha ensuing in the media space in Ghana. He believes the Parliament, and its members had a duty to perform but reneged on it by allowing the recommendation to pay the wives of the President and Vice President to stand.
According to the Bono Region Chairman of the New Patriotic Party, the framers of the constitution had envisaged this from the onset and decided to clothe the Members of Parliament to be able to deal with such issues when they crop up, but the MPs during whose tenure such a decision was taken failed to defend the very constitution they have vowed to protect.
Abronye argues that, in Article 71, clauses 1 and 2, there are two things that the framers set in. The Constitution set out a certain caliber of people who will be given ex-gratia when they are retiring from service. The law also says that at the end of the tenure of a President, a Committee will be set up to determine the ex-gratia to be given them. With this, the President can unilaterally accent to it without being laid to parliament.
However, article 71 clause 2, indicates those who would have their ex-gratias sent to Parliament to either accept or reject it. These persons include the President, Vice President, Ministers, Council of State, Deputy Ministers, etc. With this, the President does not have the power to accept it. It has to go to Parliament.
The reason why the framers of the constitution did that was to avoid conflict of interest situations because the President himself is a beneficiary, it is, therefore, Parliament’s duty to approve it. That is why the framers of the 1992 constitution decided that when a President’s committee completes its work, it has to go to parliament for approval because it is only parliament who can approve the recommendation.
Abronye is confident of winning his case against the Members of Parliament of the seventh Parliament for allowing such illegality to be perpetuated and turn around to be blaming the President, whom he thinks had no locus on this kind of approval. He has said the Prof. Ntiamoah Baidoo Committee that suggested that the wives of the President and Vice-President must be paid, only gave a recommendation – something Parliament had the mandate to reject.
“That is what came to the fore; that it is the Prof. Ntiamoah Baidoo’s committee recommendation that has been given Parliamentary approval - it suggested that the wives of the President and the Vice-President must be given salaries.
In the recommendation that got subsequent approval from Parliament, it shows clearly that the Prof, Ntiamoah Baidoo Committee worked on things that the constitution frowns upon. Then the Parliament that gave the approval also failed to take into consideration that the committee did not have the mandate to do what it did.
One can take a keen interest in what the constitution really says about this issue and the remedy available if any. A glance through the constitution, specifically Article 71, clause 1 and 2, the people who are supposed to be paid do not include the offices of the First Lady and that of the Second Lady.
Some scholars have also argued that it is not written anywhere in the constitution that the offices of the First and Second ladies have been named as public offices.
Mr. Abronye is arguing that MPs of the seventh Parliament have no shame in blaming Akufo-Addo for this decision.
With the decision of Abronye, those who agreed that the first and second ladies should be paid, and have now turned around to be engaging in politics by wiggling their mouths about Nana Addo deciding to pay his wife and that of his vice will face the law in court. The entire brouhaha will all come to an end when the Supreme Court gives its interpretation to know whether Parliament had the authority to do what they did.
I wanted my granny to make some sense from Abronye’s perspective. She did, but ended up saying “Let’s see how the courts will handle this matter, and what will be the final outcome, my son”.
But what do you think? Like my granny, or you have a different thought? Share them.
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