The General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), John Boadu, has challenged former First Lady Lordina Mahama to refund all monies she received when her husband occupied a role at the presidency.
Speaking in a TV interview on Tuesday, July 13, Boadu celebrated the decision of the current First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, to voluntarily refund monies she has received since 2017. He also stated that he expects Mrs Mahama to emulate the action taken by Mrs Akufo-Addo.
“Let me say this emphatically – former President Mahama’s wife, Lordina Mahama, must, as a matter of urgency, refund all monies paid to her since January 2017 till now,” he insisted.
According to Mr Boadu, the monies that Mrs Lordina has accumulated “as far back as 2009 should also be refunded”. And per his estimation, “the monies she has received from that time till now would amount to GHC3.2 million”.
Former President John Mahama and former First Lady Lordina Mahama are yet to respond to the latest public demand.
Rebecca Akufo-Addo and Samira Bamumia reject salary
First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo issued a Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG) Limited cheque for GH¢899,097.84 as a refund of all allowances received since 2017 in less than 24 hours after announcing her intentions to do so.
“As disclosed by the statement issued on 12th July 2021, Her Excellency the First lady of the Republic, is refunding the amount stated above and also takes this opportunity to decline any allowances to be paid to her in the future,” a statement from the Office of the First Lady said on Tuesday, July 13.
Similarly, Second Lady Samira Bawumia has announced a refund of all monies she has also received as allowances since 2017
“The Second Lady, Samira Bawumia in consultation with H.E the Vice President, will refund all allowances paid to her since 2017 and will not accept any monies allocated to her pursuant to the recommendations of the Prof Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu led committee, as approved by Parliament on 6th January 2021,” a statement signed by Kwame Twum, Senior Aide to the Second Lady announced.
She is expected to refund a total of ¢887,482 to the state following this decision.
Emolument Committee Report
A committee recommended a formal monthly remuneration for presidential spouses but the outcome triggered a heated public debate prompting the actions of Mrs Akufo-Addo and Mrs Bawumia.
It has been the norm for spouses of the President and Vice President to receive allowances but the government sought to formalize the already existing practice.
The five-member committee was set up in June 2019 by President Akufo-Addo to make recommendations to him and to Parliament on the salaries and allowances payable and the facilities and privileges available to Article 71 Office Holders.
Under the chairmanship of Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu which also had a former Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Abraham Ossei Aidooh, the Chief Executive of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission Dr Edward Kwapong, the current Director-General of the Internal Audit Agency Dr Eric Oduro Osae, and a former Managing Director of Done Well Life Insurance Co. Ltd Mrs Stella Segbawu, the committee had two terms of reference.
They were charged to make recommendations regarding emoluments and other privileges for Article 71 Office Holders, as specified under the Constitution, and to examine any other relevant matter which the committee deemed appropriate to its work.
As part of its recommendations, the committee proposed that allowances given to the spouses of the President and Vice President be formally included in the review of the entitlements for the executive.
This proposal was an attempt to regularize the practice of paying allowances to First and Second Ladies since the Third Parliament of the Fourth Republic and in the first government of ex-President John Kufuor.
As follows is the explanation of the matter put forward by Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah a week ago:
President Kufuor, in his wisdom, instituted this…The truth of the matter is that all surviving spouses of Heads of State, current and former…have all been receiving salaries since President Kufuor’s time. What has happened now is that the arrangement has been made formal but that was done legally based on the recommendation by the Emoluments Committee.
The recommendation of the Ntiamoa-Baidu committee is said to have been forwarded to the Seventh Parliament, which voted and approved it.
Ghanaians kick against the salaries
Meanwhile, several Ghanaians and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have kicked against the move in an era of huge pressure on the public purse and rising debts.
The Executive Director of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Professor Henry Kwesi Prempeh, is one of the critics opposing the introduction of the salaries.
Prof. H Kwesi Prempeh said the First and Second Ladies are not article 71 Office Holders as enshrined in the 1992 constitution; hence they do not qualify for such benefits.
“The Article 71 Emoluments Committee has no authority to recommend payment of any allowance or emolument to First or Second Spouses, as these are not Article 71 offices or officeholders,” he insisted.
According to him, the committee should also extend the remuneration to the Speaker’s spouse by their working logic.
“Anyway, why stop at First and Second Spouses?” he asked. Why not the Third Spouse (since the Speaker gets to act as President sometimes) or the Fourth (so the Chief Justice, too, can enjoy some marital privileges on the back of taxpayers), and on and on and on”.
“The political class cannot use the Article 71 process to smuggle in salaries or allowances for First and Second Spouses,” he maintained.
AG sued over salaries of first and second ladies
On July 8, following the debate, two NDC MPs and a private citizen sued the Attorney General over monthly remuneration for First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo and Second Lady Samira Bawumia.
South Dayi MP, Rockson Nelson Dafeamekpor, Builsa South MP, Dr Clement Apaak and the Chief Executive Officer of Safenet Logistics Frederick Nii Commey filed the suit at the registry of the Supreme Court, challenging the payment.