The women’s wing of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) is on the heels of former First Lady, Lordina Mahama, to pressurize her to refund all allowances she received since assuming and leaving that position.
Some have said since becoming Second Lady in 2009, and subsequently First Lady in 2012, following the sad passing of then-President John Evans Atta Mills, and also leaving office in 2016 when her husband, Mr John Dramani Mahama lost the election, the state has spent over GH¢3 million on allowances for the First Lady, excluding the huge privileges she enjoyed.
Some members of the ruling party are even saying they are ready to go on demonstration to force the former First Lady to refund all allowances she received since January 2009.
According to them, the issue of the emoluments of First and Second Ladies, both past and present, was not supposed to be a political issue but her husband, Mr John Dramani Mahama, and their party the NDC started vile propaganda against President Akufo-Addo who was trying to elevate the allowances of the spouses of the President and his Vice, both past and present, to salary status.
The approval by Parliament of the Professor Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee Report as mandated by law, covering the salaries and allowances payable to Article 71 officeholders, which also added both present and former First and Second Ladies, set the NDC propaganda machine in motion.
Former President Mahama then initiated attacks on President Akufo-Addo through a statement, creating the impression that the incumbent President is doing it for his wife alone.
Even though the Professor Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee Report did not recommend that the salary should be paid to First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo and Second Lady Samira Bawumia alone, Mr Mahama mischievously skewed the facts and appeared to incite the public against the President and his Vice.
He said, “This week, a raging issue that has generated passionate debate among many Ghanaians, both on social media and in the traditional media space – TV and radio – has been in respect of a report, confirmed by Government that the spouses of President Nana Akufo-Addo and Vice President Dr Mahamadu Bawumia are to be placed on a monthly salary at the level of a Cabinet Minister.”
He then said, “We are told that the 7th Parliament of the Republic of Ghana, which was dissolved at midnight of January 6, 2021, approved the recommendation in the Report of the Presidential Committee on Emoluments for Article 71 Office Holders (January 2017 to December 2020), chaired by Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu.
“The challenge, however, is that the spouses of the President and Vice President are not captured among Article 71 officeholders and, therefore, there is no legal or constitutional basis for it,” he said, adding “it should be noted that the recommended salaries for the spouses in the Ntiamoa-Baidu report are captured as part of the emoluments of the President and the Vice President.”
He even accused the President and his administration as if they are trying “to sneak the First and Second Ladies into the Article 71 office holders’ group,” and also accused Parliament of approving the committee’s report without ‘a review’.”
Following Mr Mahama’s statement, the NDC elements launched a barrage of attacks on the First and Second Ladies.
Avoiding any controversy, Frist Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, issued a statement on Monday night saying she was not going to accept the offer, and even said she would refund all allowances paid to her since she assumed office in January 2017.
Similarly, Second Lady, Samira Bawumia, followed with a statement saying she would also not accept the offer and said she was refunding her allowances as well.
By Tuesday, Mrs Akufo-Addo had refunded all the allowances she received for occupying the position of First Lady.
A letter to the Chief of Staff, signed by Mrs Shirley Laryea of the Office of the First Lady, and copied to the Chief Director at Jubilee House (seat of government), had said, “I am directed to forward, herewith, a Consolidated Bank Ghana Limited cheque number 000002 for an amount of GH¢899,097.84 (Eight Hundred and Ninety-Nine Thousand, Ninety-Seven Ghana Cedis, Eighty Four Pesewas) being the full refund for monies received from January 7, 2017, to date as allowances given to Her Excellency the First Lady of the Republic.”
“As disclosed by the statement issued on July 12, 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,” the statement said, adding, “Her Excellency the First Lady remains committed to her role as First Lady and is devoted to her charity work championing the well-being of women and children in Ghana.”
Leading the chase, the NPP National Women’s Organiser, Kate Gyamfua, said yesterday that the vitriolic attacks unleashed on the persons of the First and Second Ladies were as a result of the Mr Mahama’s unguarded utterances and once he, and the NDC, have decided to politicise the issue, there is no way the NPP will allow Mr Mahama’s wife to keep her allowance.
She said, “If you go to the offices of the First and Second Ladies, you will understand the sacrifices they are making for the country. Look at the health institutions, the First Lady’s footprints are all over. The Second Lady is also empowering many girls to go up the ladder. They didn’t deserve these unprovoked attacks.”
She added, “Mr Mahama should have known better since he was once President and knew what goes into the running of the office of the First Lady,” adding that once the NDC has decided to make the debate personal, the NPP women will also take on the former First Lady because “she was the biggest beneficiary.”
Minister of State, Freda Prempeh, also entered the fray and said the First and Second Ladies did not deserve the ingratitude being displayed by Mr Mahama and his cronies.
She commended Mrs Akufo-Addo and Mrs Bawumia for the proactive steps they took to refund the allowances and said they will do everything possible to get Mrs Mahama to return hers.
Already, the General Secretary of the ruling NPP, John Boadu, has said once the NDC and Mr Mahama have mischievously created the impression that the approval by Parliament was for the benefit of the spouses of President Akufo-Addo and Vice President Dr Bawumia, when that was not the case, the wife of Mr Mahama should also refund allowances she has collected since 2009 till date.
“Let me say this emphatically. Former President Mahama’s wife, Lordina Mahama, must, as a matter of urgency, refund all monies paid to her from January 2017 till now. Those she received as far back as 2009 should also be refunded. The monies she has received from that time till now would amount to GH¢3.2 million,” he fired.
The Director of Communications at the presidency, Eugene Arhin said the Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Dr Anthony Yaw Baah in his statement has claimed that the First and Second Ladies had been paid salary arrears.
He said it was never the case and the TUC boss needed to retract and apologise to the two personalities.
Mr Arhin said on social media that “salary arrears dated back to January 2017 have since been paid to the wives of President Akuffo-Addo and Vice President Bawumia, by the Committee’s recommendation which was approved by NDC and NPP Members of Parliament. This is what the TUC General Secretary, Dr Yaw Baah, said in a statement dated 11th July 2021. He was wrong, as no such ‘salary arrears have been paid.”
“Can he, therefore, do the needful and apologize to the First and Second Ladies for this false statement??”
In the ensuing heat, a leading member of the NPP, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko called for calm and rather blamed Mr Mahama for the mess that has been created.
He said on social media that “Leave Lordina Mahama alone! She doesn’t have to refund her alawa. Not her fault, her husband who says he believes in the 2011 Constitution Review Commission report’s recommendation to set up an Independent Emoluments Committee yet he never saw the need to attempt to do it.”