The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana spells out the category of public office holders and their respective emoluments. Article 70 and 71 of the aforementioned constitution define the category and emoluments, respectively. It is no denying fact that since the return of Constitutionalism under the fourth Republic of Ghana both first and second ladies have enjoyed tax payer’s monies in the form of allowances. Critically evaluating the said convention, was that the way to go as a country?
It is disdain to consider the payment of first and second ladies. Key questions need to be asked; is it their active involvement in the Political front to help secure victory for their husbands?
Participating in national function amid convey and high protocol?
Enjoying foreign trips with their husbands?
We cannot continue to create a constitutional crisis as the president is mixing romance with public service.
What are the specific functions of the second and first ladies?
Are we not interested to audit them for even starting to pay them?
Are they not supposed to be accountable to the state?
Who should then hold them accountable?
Are they still going to run their foundation at the same time as "so-called" public office holders?
Leaving the office of the first ladies for the executive to use discretionary powers to pay them is still problematic as they may even advance allowances that could be 10 times higher than proposed salaries.
Again, we cannot begin to even think of deciding to institutionalize the office of the first ladies without a legal basis. There should be a law to regulate the office if we so wish as a country since this move is not grounded in law as per articles 70 and 71 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
Our microscopic lenses should be zoomed in on other forms of marriages contracted under customary law and Muslim belief. For a custom of a traditionalist, a man marries up to 20 wives whiles a Muslim marries up to four wives. Therefore, what happens to a future president or vice president who has legitimate four wives? Will all going to be paid?
In this era of COVID-19 where the president is constantly appealing to all meaningful and descending Ghanaians to cope with the hard-economic environment due to its bad leadership, he again considering a proposal that will give his wife a bounty cheque for Christmas.
In the critical moment of our life as a country with widening inequalities, absolute deprivation of social amenities, insecurity, youth unemployment, debt stress, etc, “protecting the public purse” sloganeering government cannot be focusing on enriching themselves with payment of salaries to first and second ladies and even backdating the payments to 2017.
While elsewhere first ladies continue to engage in active service. The president of France Emmanuel Macron spouse is still a university lecturer and we are interested in paying some second ladies that are only interested in makeup.
The Ghana public and civil servants are still wallowing in poverty and a meager wage increment (4%) is been proposed while the president and his government are thinking of paying the first and second spouse bounty.
BY Tahiru Lukman
Author, Dev't Consultant & Youth Activist
Email: [email protected]