Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has confirmed that President Akufo Addo’s wife is earning GHC 33,000 as monthly salary and on the same level as a Cabinet Minister, even though the constitution does not recognise her as a beneficiary of Article 71 emolument structure.
Essentially, when the Yaa Ntiamoah-Baidu Committee set up by President Akufo Addo on June 18, 2019, recommended that Rebecca Akuffo Addo and the Second Lady Samira Bawumia be put on a formal salary scale like other political appointees, the opposition party-dominated Parliament in connivance with the Akufo Addo administration simply rubber-stamped the recommendation that has sparked massive public outrage.
“The President does approve salaries and benefits for the Executive. Under Article 71, the First Lady and Second Lady are not office-holders so no one can determine their benefits under that article. However, a committee only recommended that an arrangement for the spouses be made formal and that received approval from Parliament,” Oppong Nkrumah stated.
In one light, Oppong-Nkrumah admits that the spouses of the President and his Vice are not recognised constitutionally as Article 71 officeholders, but on the other hand, he claims their emolument was made formal by an emolument committee that is constitutionally mandated to determine the salaries of only Article 71 officeholders.
“The truth of the matter is that all surviving spouses of Heads of State, current and former, have always received salaries. Lordina Mahama, Naadu Mills, Matilda Amissah-Arthur, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, Faustina Acheampong, Fulera Liman, etc 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 Information Minister justified the development.
The Committee headed by Professor Yaa Ntiamoah-Baidu also justified their decision to hand over taxpayers money to wives of the President and his Vice, saying the John President Kufuor had introduced the extension of courtesies, including the payment of monthly allowances to spouses of former Heads of States/Presidents/Vice Presidents and that the gesture remained purely humanitarian and that First and Second Ladies were “evidently struggling to subsist” hence they must be rated on equal terms as cabinet ministers.
The five-member Presidential Emoluments Committee is chaired by Prof. Yaa Ntiamoah-Baidu with Hon. Abraham Osei-Aidoo, Dr. Edward Kwapong, Dr. Eric Oduro Osae and Mrs. Stella Segbawu, as members.
Already, the Committee’s recommendation of hefty salary adjustments for Article 71 officeholders, especially, the President and Vice President, has become a talking point in the country.
In respect of spouses of the President, the Committee recommends that the First Lady be paid salary “equivalents to a Cabinet Minister MP as currently pertains,” while her husband is still in office.
But when her spouse is out of office, she should be paid a salary equivalent to 80% of the salary of a Minister of State-MP if the spouse served one full term as President; or 100% of the salary of a Minister of State-MP if spouse served two or more full terms as President.
In respect of the Vice President, it recommended that his wife should be paid a salary equivalent to a Cabinet Minister non-MP (about GHC 32,000 monthly) as currently pertains, with her husband in office.
But when the husband is out of office, she should be paid a salary equivalent to 80% of the salary of a Minister of State non-MP, if the spouse served one full term as Vice President, or 100% of a Minister of State non-MP of spouse served two terms.
“The committee notes that neither article 71 nor any other provisions in the constitution bestow benefits on spouses of Presidents and Vice Presidents,” the committee acknowledged but quickly noted that in their alleged consultations they found out that some former First Ladies struggle to survive in foreign lands.
“Incidentally, the Committee was reliably informed that the State has since the early 2000s been taking care of former First and Second Ladies, providing them with quarterly allowances and extending to them other courtesies… In addition to the quarterly allowances, the Office of the Chief of Staff receives several other requests in the form of Save Our Souls (SoS) which the State obliges,” the committee wrote.
Meanwhile, the Committee has recommended for the salaries of article 71 officeholders to be increased. President Akufo-Addo’s pay has been recommended for an increase from the current Ghc29, 099 to Ghc47, 273 using a 120 award point.
Vice President Bawumia’s monthly salary has also been recommended for an increase from the current Ghc26, 909 to Ghc39, 397 using an award points of 100.