We have been made to believe that the Government of Ghana, without any liability or legal obligation but out of sheer kindness and a gesture of goodwill, decided in 2001 to hand out allowances to the spouses of presidents and vice presidents.
Such payments can be termed as ex-gratia. According to Wikipedia, ex-gratia is a goodwill payment.
It is done out of kindness or grace. Jurisprudentially, an ex gratia payment is a largesse without the giver recognising any liability or any legal obligations
It was against such background that all the Committees tasked since 1993 to recommend the Article 71 office holders emoluments have asked the various governments to formalise the seeming inconspicuous payments to the spouses of presidents and vice presidents.
It is important however to note that the Article 71 office holders emoluments are drawn on the Consolidated Fund, Upon recommendations of a committee set up by the sitting president acting in accordance with the advice of the Council of State (Ghana 1992).
It was against that backdrop that President Akufo-Addo constituted a Committee in 2019 to deliberate and propose increments of the Article 71 office holders emoluments to reflect the prevailing inflation.
The Committee chaired by Professor Yaa Ntiamoah Baidu recommended that the furtive payments being made to the spouses of presidents and vice presidents be regularised.
Of course, I share in the sentiments of the concerned Ghanaians that the spouses of the presidents and vice presidents are not Article 71 office holders as prescribes by the 1992 Constitution, and therefore do not deserve any salaries.
But the all-important question we should be asking is: are the spouses of presidents and vice presidents being paid allowances based on Article 71 office holders entitlements?
I do not want to believe that is the case, or the Professor Baidu Committee recommended that the spouses be promoted to the status of Article 71 office holders.
If the Committee recommended in that regard, then the Members of Parliament erred in approving such recommendation.
Whatever the case, if Ghanaians do not want such arrangements, so be it.
That being said, consideration should be giving to the spouses of the late presidents and vice presidents.
In my humble opinion, it is morally correct for the country to cater for the widows of the deceased presidents and vice presidents, but not the spouses of the living presidents and vice presidents.
Take, for instance, if there is any truth in what we are hearing, then the wife of the living President Mahama, Lordina Mahama, has been receiving allowances since 2009 (approximately 140 months).
If we multiply the alleged monthly allowance of GH¢21, 000 by 140 months will give us GH¢2.940 million.
To be quite honest, a well-to do living president’s spouse does not need such largesse from the nation.
I could not agree more with the unhappy Ghanaians; such largesse is a misplaced priority and must be stopped without delay.