Following public discourse on the recommendation made by the Presidential Committee on emoluments for Article 71 officeholders (January 2017 to December 2020), for the First and Second Ladies to be paid an allowance as part of the benefits of the President and Vice President, the sitting First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, and Second Lady, Samira Bawumia, are to decline the offer, according to Asaase News sources.
A source at the Presidency hinted to Asaase News that the two spouses have already communicated their decision to Jubilee House.
Another source familiar with the decision of the two leading ladies, said the two ladies, who had nothing to do with the decision to formally recognise their work with remuneration, are concerned by the public hue and cry on the Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee report.
The source argues that they have managed to undertake their numerous public engagements and charity work without any established remuneration and believe the rejection should not disturb the carrying out of their various duties.
The source further indicates that First and Second Ladies, who have managed their supporting roles over the years without controversy, are most uncomfortable about the disturbance the policy is causing particularly in the political space and as a result, they are unwilling to accept the structured remuneration.
The source stressed that the two spouses, however, recognise that the payments, approved by Parliament, are for the office they hold, and, as such, they are not, therefore, challenging the decision. However, as individuals, they are exercising their rights not to accept controversial payments.
It also underlines the respect they have for public opinion on the use of the public purse, another source added.
The Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu committee report dated the 18th of June 2020, submitted its recommendations to President Akufo-Addo in fulfilment of the Article 71 provision of the 1992 Constitution which enjoins every sitting President before the end of his four (4) year mandate, to set up a committee to make recommendations on the emoluments for Article 71 officeholders.
As part of the five (5) member committee’s report, they recommended the payment of a salary equivalent to a Cabinet Minister who is a Member of Parliament (MP) to the First Lady while her husband is in office and the payment of a salary equivalent to 80% of the salary of a Minister of State who is a Member of Parliament (MP) if the spouse served one full term as President or 100% of the salary of a Minister of State who is a Member of Parliament (MP) if the spouse served two or more full terms as President.
With the Second Lady, the committee’s report recommended the payment of a salary equivalent to a Cabinet Minister who is not a Member of Parliament (MP) to the Second Lady while her husband is in office and the payment of a salary equivalent to 80% of the salary of a Minister of State who is not a Member of Parliament (MP) if the spouse served one full term as President or 100% of the salary of a Minister of State who is a Member of Parliament (MP) if the spouse served two or more full terms as Vice President.
Public Hue & Cry
However, some Ghanaians have taken to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, to register their displeasure with the committee’s recommendation. The Minority in Parliament and the former President of the republic, John Dramani Mahama, have also joined in the calls for the policy to be relooked at.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) in a recent statement also recommended that since the First and Second Ladies of the Republic are not allotted defined roles by the 1992 Constitution, the government should take another look at the report and recommendations of Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu-led committee.