The Second Lady of the Republic, Samira Bawumia is set to refund a total amount of eight hundred and eighty-seven thousand, four hundred and eighty-two (GHC 887,482) she has thus far received as allowances from January 2017 to March 2021.
The Second Lady’s move follows a similar step by the First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, who has also decided to refund to the State a total of eight hundred and ninety-nine thousand and ninety-seven Ghana cedis (GHc 899,097.00).
The decision of the two leading ladies of the Republic to refund their allowances is motivated by a recent public backlash that has characterized the recommendation made by the Presidential Committee on Emoluments for Article 71 office holders for the First and Second Ladies to be paid an allowance as part of the benefits of the President and Vice President.
The First and Second Ladies, according to Asaase News sources, conferred and took the common position to refund all payments they have received following the public discourse on the recommendations made by the Presidential Committee on Emoluments for Article 71 officeholders.
In a statement issued on Monday 12 July 2021, the Office of the First Lady said: “… the public discussion has been laced with some extremely negative opinions, in some cases, which she finds distasteful, seeking to portray her as a venal, self-serving and self-centred woman, who does not care about the plight of the ordinary Ghanaian.
“Given this, the First Lady, in consultation with the President of the Republic, has decided to refund all monies paid to her as allowances from the date of the President’s assumption of office, ie, from January 2017 to date, amounting to GHC899,097.84.”
“The First Lady has also decided not to accept any monies that have been allocated to be paid to her under the recommendations of the Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee, as approved by Parliament,” said the statement signed by Korkor Bleboo, director of communications in the Office of the First Lady.
A similar statement is expected to be issued by the office of the Second Lady to officially communicate the decision of the Second Lady, Samira Bawumia.
Prof. Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee
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.
Some sections of the Ghanaian public 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.