1992 Constitution doesn’t recognise offices of wives of President, Vice – Agbana

Samira Bawumia (L) and Rebecca Akufo-Addo (R)
Deputy National Youth Organizer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Edem Agbana has kicked against the approval of payment of salaries to First and Second ladies in Ghana.

In his view, the 1992 constitution does not recognise the offices of the First and Second ladies for which they are to be paid salaries as Article 71 office holders.

Speaking on the Key Points on TV3 Saturday July 10, he said “I strongly believe that we cannot even have a conversation about formalization. The reason is that Mr A or Mr B present themselves to be elected political offices and to become Article 71 office holders they do not run on the ticket    with their spouses. When they are elected it is their office that the con station recognizes and it is their office that the constitution makes allocations to  so it doesn’t matter who the individual occupying the office is , it is the office that is recognized by the constitution.

The constitution does not recognize officially, the functions pf the spouses.” 

A member of the Communications team of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) Richard Nyamah, for his part, said the there is an attempt to pollute the minds of Ghanaians in relation to reports that first and second ladies are going to be paid salaries.

He said on the same show that nowhere in the report is stated that salaries are going to be paid to the first and second ladies.

“I think to some extent it is some grand design and agenda  to misinform, miseducate and generally pollute the minds of the general public on this matter. That whole document is a 113 page document  and at no point have I seen  anywhere written that salaries are to be paid  first ladies and second ladies.”

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Parliament has approved a recommendation by Ntiamoah-Baidoo committee which was set up in June 2019 by President Akufo-Addo, to him and to Parliament on the salaries and allowances First or Second Spouses.

This has incurred the wrath of some members of the Ghanaian society who believe that this has come at a time the public purse is under severe pressure.

For instance Private legal practitioner Professor Kwaku Asare has said the five-member Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee that arrived at the decision which was approved by the House violated the 1992 Constitution,

Former President John Dramani Mahama has also said there is no legal or constitutional basis for salary payment to First and Second Ladies in Ghana.

He said the spouses of the President and Vice President are not captured among Article 71 Office Holders.

Mr Mahama who was the Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in last year’s elections said in a statement on Friday July 9 that “The news, particularly at this time of austerity, has generated some level of outrage among the populace, and I can understand the anger of those opposing the recommendation of the Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee and its subsequent approval by parliament.

“It should be made clear, also, that the recommendation in respect of spouses in the Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee report, which covers the years January 7, 2017 to January 6, 2021, is solely in respect of the Spouses of President Akufo-Addo and Vice President Bawumia.

“The challenge, however, is that the spouses of the President and Vice President are not captured among Article 71 Office Holders and, therefore, there is no legal or constitutional basis for it,” he said.

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His aide who is also a private legal practitioner, Joyce Bawa Mogtari also said the government may have to introduced another bill to parliament if First and second ladies are to be paid salaries.

She said that payment of salaries to First and Second ladies in Ghana cannot be done under Articles 71 and 108.

“The list of Article 71 office holders is exhaustive. If they want to pay the spouses of the President and Vice President, it is very obvious that cannot be done under Articles 71 and 108.

“They should consider a new Bill,  Spouses of President Bill maybe,” she wrote in a tweet.

The Chief Executive Officer of the John A. Kuffuor Professor Baffour Agyeman-Duah has also questioned the decision to pay salaries to First and Second ladies in Ghana.

First, he said the process leading to the decision lacked transparency.

Secondly, he added, paying salaries to the wife of the President and the Vice president is an indication that they have been formally engaged to render a service.

The former Senior Governance Adviser  at the United Nations told Dzifa Bampoh on the First Take on 3FM that “ We have known since the beginning of the Republic that all first ladies  do expend  on the public expenditure. So if we want to formalize this then we have to find the proper way because the Constitutions prescribed individuals, personnel of the government  of the government or the public service who  must be salaried.  I don’t think that includes the first lady  or second lady.

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“But at the same time,  I also recognize that these individuals  do deserve some kind of allowance s an I believe they have been paid allowances all along . What I didn’t know is that  now they are going to be put on salaries. And salary implies that somebody has been appointed to perform specific functions .

“As we sit here  I do not know the terms of  reference for the appointments  if indeed they have been appointed  is it as first ladies or as what ? So what is troubling for me  is the apparent lack of  first, transparency  in how this whole process came about  and more importantly how we are giving them salary  instead of allowances when  in fact they are not covered by the constitutional requirements of Article 71.”

By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana