The spouses of the President and Vice President will from now onwards officially enjoy salaries from the government of Ghana. The new arrangement will see the spouses of the first and second gentlemen officially being paid salaries, which is a departure from the previous practice of paying them allowances.
This means that, while some are totally against the colossal payment of exgratia and end of service benefit for what is known as 'article 71 office' holders and the toll these payments have on the national purse every 4 years, two more offices have been added to it.
During making the confirmation, after a rumour had been flying around, the Minister responsible for Information Kojo Opong Nkrumah says all surviving spouses of Heads of State, current and former, have always received salaries. Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, Faustina Acheampong, Fulera Liman etc have all been receiving salaries since President Kufuor's time.
According to him, what happened now is that the arrangement has been made formal, but that was done legally based on the recommendation by the Emoluments Committee.
Technically, the question of paying or not paying does not arise since by the Information minister's statement, this had already been approved by the 7th Parliament. Suffice to say, the names and salaries to pay the spouses of the President and vice President was smuggled into the emolument's committee report sent to parliament last year.
However, our reading of the constitution has also clarified it for some of us, and have been confirmed by ace legal brains like Kwaku Azar, that the first and second ladies are not article 71 office holders. They do not perform any job for the country constitutionally. They are who they are simply by the lottery chance of being the wives of these gentlemen.
In such a capacity, they were rightly taking an allowance, since they have no official role in government. In any case, they benefit from all the pecks their spouses pluck from the state coffers. Making them article 71 office holders (which is illegal anyway) makes them entitled and gives them an undeserving extra privileges.
This should not be accepted. The public has the power to freeze this regularization of something that is clearly unconstitutional. We should pull the brakes right here. If this is allowed to pass, very soon, these politicians will abuse this kind of arrangements and begin to pay wives of the Speaker of Parliament, the Chief Justice and soon, to the wives of the ministers and Members of Parliament.
Withdraw them forthwith. They should be maintained on the bases of allowances. Do not pay first and second ladies salary.
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