12.07.2021 Feature Article

Presidential Spouses’ Salary Palaver!

Presidential Spouses’ Salary Palaver!
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I once said the Elephant was its own greatest enemy. Happenings during President Kufuor’s era amply proved that belief. Through complacency, disunity and pride, it handed power to the eagle-headed Umbrella on a silver platter in 2008.

I, and those who think like me, thought those riding on the Elephant would learn lessons from that. But none has been learnt. Not even the loss of over sixty parliamentary seats in the most recent polls has taught them any lessons.

We all know winning or losing the 2024 polls depends entirely on the actions and inactions of the Elephant. It is thus very disheartening for some us to see the Great Elephant shooting itself in the foot and giving those under the Umbrella the opportunity to push it to the ground and trample on its protruded stomach.

I’m still wondering how the Nana Dee government always manages to attract bad press for itself. If it is not towing levy irking the anger of car owners, then it is freight forwarders up in arms because of UNIPASS and increases in freight charges. Again, if it is not the masses heaping insults on the government because of car loans for Members of Parliament (MPs), then it is vile propaganda against the government for formalizing allowances of first and second ladies, current and previous.

As hinted by the heading, my microscopic lenses are today focused on the salary palaver. The question to ask is if it is indeed true that both current and past first and second ladies had been receiving allowances at the blind side of the masses. If yes, then why did the Nana Dee government decide to ‘formalize’ it?

The answer is simple: President Nana Dee is too politically correct. He is trying to be the quintessential democrat, forgetting that ours is a country where propaganda and barefaced lies easily become facts – which are swallowed by the gullible masses. He is trying to play the perfect democrat, ignoring the fact that a section of the media will go to any length to smear him with very foul faecal matter.

I do not know who his advisors are. But whoever they are, they have woefully failed the President, his government and the party. They should have maintained the status quo and continued paying the allowances at the blind side of the masses. The timing of the so-called formalization is also very wrong considering recent lamentations of our compatriots in relation to economic difficulties.

If I were the President, I would quickly cancel the facility for all presidential spouses and form a new committee, which would be tasked to drastically reduce salaries, allowances and perks of all Article 71 office holders. I would also cancel ex-gratia for MPs because it is pure profligacy for a legislator to receive ex-gratia every 4 years. Yes, MPs deserve ex-gratia when leaving Parliament; but certainly not this rip-off!

If that were to happen, those saying crucify Nana Dee for prodigality would be the same people to hail him. But one thing is certain, others too will accuse him of insensitivity towards the widows of former presidents and vice-presidents, which is okay.

Unfortunately, I doubt if Nana Dee will heed my unsolicited counsel. His conservative nature will not allow him to toe that drastic line. But I believe his political correctness will ultimately become the nemesis of his government and party.

Knowing how mischievous some of our compatriots could be, I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up one day to see Angel Cabonu’s NAGRAT agitating for spousal allowance. Their argument would be very clear: Spouses of teachers, like the spouses of presidents, also help in nation building.

Soon, other professionals would follow suit and demand spousal allowances since their spouses also aid them in serving the nation. Mischievous media houses like Joy FM would take the opportunity to ridicule the government and make it look very bad in the eyes of the masses. And one can only imagine the political cost of such a scenario!

It is, however, worth noting that the hypocrisy of some of our MPs cannot be allowed to go without comment. Parliament in its entirety approved the package for spouses of successive presidents and vice-presidents. Is it not hypocritical for some MPs to now come out and condemn what they endorsed in the House of Honourables? How dishonourable can some of these assumed honourables be?

As I write, there is a pending request by Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to the Nana Dee government for the provision of a stimulus package for the media, following the onset of COVID-19 and the construction of a new building to serve as the new Ghana International Press Centre. The GJA also requested the Office of the President to take up the donation of VW cars to four (4) previous winners of Journalists of the Year, which are pending. This request came after this government had already presented a VW vehicle to the current Journalist of the Year, Samson Lardi Ayenini.

In the name of saving public purse, I would reject the request if I were the President. Why should GJA promise an awardee a car if it doesn’t have or cannot afford one? That shouldn’t be the headache of government at all. The money for the cars and the so-called new press centre could be used in eliminating many schools under trees.

Alas, ours is a politically correct President. Yes, Nana Dee deludes himself into believing such gestures will make people think he is a true democrat. So I will be very surprised if he does not accede to their request.

However, what Mr. President and his advisors fail to realize is that a little populism is needed in a country where the masses mostly make decisions based on emotions, sentiments and party considerations. The opposition also fuels some of these things for their benefits, even though they were at the helm and did worse things. I hope a big fish in the ocean is listening!

See you next week for another interesting konkonsa, Deo volente!

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