Politics

The 1992 Constitution does not recognize the offices of President’s spouses-Edem Agbana

Edem Agbana, the National Democratic Congress’s (NDC) Deputy National Youth Organizer, has spoken out against the payment of wages to Ghana’s First and Second Ladies.

According to him, the 1992 constitution does not recognize the First and Second Ladies’ positions as Article 71 officeholders, for which they are to be given salaries.

“I firmly feel that we cannot even have a debate about formalization,” he stated on TV3’s Key Points on Saturday, July 10. The reason for this is that Mr. A or Mr. B do not run on the same ticket as their spouses in order to be elected to political positions and become Article 71 officeholders. When they are elected, it is their office that the congress acknowledges, and it is their office that the constitution allocates funds to, therefore it doesn’t matter who is in the office; it is the office that the constitution recognizes.

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The roles of spouses are not formally recognized by the constitution.”

In response to allegations that first and second ladies will be paid wages, Richard Nyamah, a member of the ruling New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) communications team, claimed there is an attempt to poison Ghanaians’ minds.

On the same broadcast, he said that salaries for the first and second women are nowhere to be seen in the report.

“I think to some extent it is some grand design and agenda  to misinform, miseducate and generally pollute the minds of the general public on this matter. That whole document is a 113-page document  and at no point have I seen  anywhere written that salaries are to be paid, first ladies and second ladies.”

Parliament has approved a recommendation by the Ntiamoah-Baidoo committee which was set up in June 2019 by President Akufo-Addo, to him and to Parliament on the salaries and allowances First or Second Spouses.

This has incurred the wrath of some members of the Ghanaian society who believe that this has come at a time the public purse is under severe pressure.

For instance, Private legal practitioner Professor Kwaku Asare has said the five-member Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee that arrived at the decision which was approved by the House violated the 1992 Constitution,

Former President John Dramani Mahama has also said there is no legal or constitutional basis for salary payment to First and Second Ladies in Ghana.

He said the spouses of the President and Vice President are not captured among Article 71 Office Holders.

Mr. Mahama who was the Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in last year’s elections said in a statement on Friday, July 9 that “The news, particularly at this time of austerity, has generated some level of outrage among the populace, and I can understand the anger of those opposing the recommendation of the Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee and its subsequent approval by parliament.

“It should be made clear, also, that the recommendation in respect of spouses in the Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee report, which covers the years January 7, 2017, to January 6, 2021, is solely in respect of the Spouses of President Akufo-Addo and Vice President Bawumia.

“The challenge, however, is that the spouses of the President and Vice President are not captured among Article 71 Office Holders and, therefore, there is no legal or constitutional basis for it,” he said.

His aide who is also a private legal practitioner, Joyce Bawa Mogtari also said the government may have to introduce another bill to parliament if the First and second ladies are to be paid salaries.

She said that payment of salaries to First and Second ladies in Ghana cannot be done under Articles 71 and 108.

“The list of Article 71 officeholders is exhaustive. If they want to pay the spouses of the President and Vice President, it is very obvious that cannot be done under Articles 71 and 108.

“They should consider a new Bill,  Spouses of President Bill maybe,” she wrote in a tweet.

The Chief Executive Officer of the John A. Kuffuor Professor Baffour Agyeman-Duah has also questioned the decision to pay salaries to First and Second ladies in Ghana.

First, he said the process leading to the decision lacked transparency.

Secondly, he added, paying salaries to the wife of the President and the Vice president is an indication that they have been formally engaged to render a service.

The former Senior Governance Adviser at the United Nations told Dzifa Bampoh on the First Take on 3FM that “ We have known since the beginning of the Republic that all first ladies do expend on the public expenditure. So if we want to formalize this then we have to find the proper way because the Constitution prescribed individuals, personnel of the government of the government or the public service who must be salaried.  I don’t think that includes the first lady or second lady.

“But at the same time,  I also recognize that these individuals do deserve some kind of allowance s and I believe they have been paid allowances all along. What I didn’t know is that now they are going to be put on salaries. And salary implies that somebody has been appointed to perform specific functions.

“As we sit here  I do not know the terms of reference for the appointments if indeed they have been appointed is it as first ladies or as what? So what is troubling for me  is the apparent lack of  first, transparency  in how this whole process came about  and more importantly how we are giving them salary  instead of allowances when  in fact they are not covered by the constitutional requirements of Article 71.”

Source: 3news

 

Timothy

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