Former President John Dramani Mahama has kicked against the payment of monthly salaries to the spouses of the President and Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, indicating that he is surprised President Akufo-Addo has embraced the decision.
The former President suggests in an opinion shared on his website, www.johnmahama.org, and on Facebook that President Akufo-Addo once kicked against a similar suggestion when he was the MP for the then Abuakwa Constituency.
“I recall that I entered the 4th Republican Parliament in the same year as President Nana Akufo-Addo. As a young MP, I remember we debated an amendment to the Assets Declaration Law to expand its ambit. One of the groups targeted for addition was spouses of public office holders including the President, Vice President, Ministers among others.
“Leading those who vehemently opposed the inclusion of spouses was President Akufo-Addo. I remember one of the main thrusts of his argument was that a spouse could not have known that their partner would end up in high office at the time they got married. It would therefore be unfair to subject them to the hazards of an assets declaration regime (it would be in the Hansard somewhere),” Mahama argued.
Describing the recommendation as inappropriate and its approval unfortunate, Mr Mahama asked, “Have the chickens come home to roost? A spouse may not have known that their partner would end up in high office at the time of marriage, so would it not be unfair to bestow upon them salaries as part of their husband’s emoluments in office?”
According to Mahama, the practice he stated started with the Jerry John Rawlings Administration and “issues in respect of allowances of the spouses have largely been handled administratively and provided for under the budget of the Office of the President.”
“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 stated.
Providing some further details, President Mahama said, “the practice has also included the payment of quarterly allowances to the surviving spouses of former Presidents, former Vice Presidents and former Heads of State, which practice has been appreciated by the beneficiaries as a token from the State.”
Mr. Mahama also noted that the activities of the First and Second Ladies are funded by the Office of the President to enable them fulfil “the roles that our modern democracies expect them to play, such as empowering women, girlchild education, reproductive health issues, teenage pregnancy, assistance to widows, fighting early marriage, preventing mother to child transmission of HIV, STEM for girls…”