– As NDC Launches Countermeasures.
Kwame Baffoe Abronye (Abronye DC), a staunch apparatchik of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has filed a writ at the Supreme Court, allegedly challenging President Akufo Addo and the entire ruling party which clandestinely placed First Lady Rebecca Akufo Addo and Second Lady Samira Bawumia on fat salaries equal to those of cabinet ministers.
A copy of the writ seen by Whatsup News was filed today July 8, 2021, in what critics have alerted as an attempt by the governing NPP to use Abronye DC to “game” the criticism against the government for using its Members of Parliament to decimate the Ghanaians constitution by smuggling spouses of the President and his Vice into the special category of public office holders popularly referred to as the Article 71 officeholders.
There are speculations that Abronye DC would start the case alright, but may possibly be setting up to present a hollow argument in court that may force the Supreme Court to punch holes that may prevent the court from being able to declare the contentious salaries unconstitutional.
The Prof. Ntiamoah-Baidu Emoluments Committee which was set up by President Akufo-Addo to review the emoluments of Article 71 officeholders has been in the news for recommending huge salary increments at a time that the rest of the Ghanaian people are facing austerity.
Even though the Committee’s terms of reference were to only review salaries, it took the initiative to recommend that First and Second Ladies are placed on salaries rather than be made to continue to be recipients of allowances.
Due to its highly incendiary nature, the Prof. Mike Ocquaye-led 7th Parliament filled with NPP MPs clandestinely approved the recommendations of the committee on the last day of the life of that Parliament.
Since the lid was blown on the smuggled salaries for the First and Second Ladies, the government and ruling party agents have been defending the decision to pay the better halves of the President and his Vice. It, therefore, comes across as curious that one of the main defenders of the ruling party would turn around to file a suit against the salaries his colleagues are zealously defending.
This is why critics worry that the outcome of the Abronye DC suit may, therefore, potentially give impetus for the salaries to remain in effect perpetually, as public agitation against the Professor Yaa Ntiamoah-Baidu Presidential Emolument Committee recommended that the spouses of the President and his Vice deserve to be put on salary levels equivalent to the highest-ranking government minister, despite the recommendation being unconstitutional.
It appears the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) may have smelled a rat in the entire antics of Abronye DC, forcing two Members of Parliament of the party to also file a suit against the outrageous salaries.
The NDC MPs are Rockson Nelson Dafeamekpor of South Dayi, Dr. Clement Apaak of Builsa South and Frederick Nii Commey who have sued the Attorney General in a suit seeking the Supreme Court to declare the decision to pay the Jubilee House spouses salaries regularised under Article 71 null and void.
The NDC MPs are basically seeking a total of eight reliefs from the Supreme Court.
One of the declarations sought is that “the Prof Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee exceeded its jurisdiction, mandate and authority when it purported to make recommendations in respect of privileges, facilities, salaries and allowances payable to the 1st Lady and the wife of the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana.”
President Akufo Addo had in June 2019 constituted the Ntiamoah-Baidu Committee to make recommendations for emoluments for the infamous Article 71 officeholders. Curiously, the committee smuggled in recommendations that spouses of the President and his Vice should be elevated to the level of Article 71 officeholders, despite it being unconstitutional.
The committee justified their decision to hand over taxpayers money to wives of the President and his Vice, by claiming 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.
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. Her salary is about GHC 33,000 monthly.
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.