The First and the Second Ladies of the Republic of Ghana, Rebecca Akufo-Addo and Samira Bawumia deserve to be paid some allowances, Member of Parliament for Awutu Senya West constituency Gizella Tetteh-Agbotui, has said.
She however, has concerns with the quantum of money they are paid.
Her comments come after Mrs Akufo-Addo has refunded all the allowances paid her since 2017.
On Tuesday July 13, she issued a Consolidated Bank Ghana Limited cheque for GH¢899,097.84 as a refund of all allowances received since 2017.
She had announced on Monday, July 12, that due to the “extremely negative opinions” which have laced conversations on her allowances, she was refunding every pesewa.
She also served notice not to receive any monies that have been allocated to be paid to her pursuant to recommendations of the Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee, which was tasked in 2019 to review emoluments of Article 71 office holders.
She found the public debate “distasteful, seeking to portray her as a venal, self-serving and self-centered woman who does not care about the plight of ordinary Ghanaian”.
Barely 24 hours after that, her office has written to the Chief of Staff, Frema Osei Opare, to present the cheque number for the full refund of the monies.
“Her Excellency, the First Lady remains committed to her role as First Lady and is devoted to her charity work championing the wellbeing of women and children in Ghana,” wrote Mrs Shirley Laryea of the Office of the First Lady.
Second Lady Samira Bawumia has also announced that she will refund all allowances paid her since 2017, when her husband became the Vice President of Ghana.
A statement issued by her office on Tuesday, July 13 also indicated that Mrs Bawumia will not accept any monies allocated her as per recommendations by the Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee.
“Mrs Bawumia continues to be committed to the service of the nation,” the statement noted.
It added that she stays committed “to deliver humanitarian interventions and initiatives in the areas of health, education and economic development”.
Speaking on the New Day on TV3 Wednesday July 14, Madam Gizella Tetteh-Agbotui who is a sister to Former Foreign Affairs Minister Hanna Tetteh said “I’m bringing it back to the whole governance issue, we have to sit down and state it clearly for everybody to know what they are entitled to and what they are not entitled to.
“To be fair, they are entitled to something, the quantum is another matter, the backdating is also another matter, especially in this time of hardship. And so if Ghanaians are angry and upset about this, naturally so because this is huge.”
She added “Nobody has asked her to pay back this, she voluntarily paid it back so then if you are paying it back, pay with interest. The minority’s press conference they did, they also talked about funds to the Rebecca Foundation, especially state funds when GNPC gave her about 750,000 to her foundation and that opens another pandora’s box again about the accountability of NGOs, the First Ladies, Second Ladies and all those ladies in higher office and generally accountability on all NGOs.
“So maybe there has to be that, as lawmakers we have to now look at that system and how we are going to streamline that as well. And it comes back to governance as well, sometimes we have to set certain things right, like I said she can’t seem to take the heat so she has refunded. About the call for paying interest, my second deputy leader, he is the chairman of the public accounts committee so if he is making that request he knows why he is making that request”.
Director at Centre for Asian Studies-University of Ghana, Dr Lloyd Amoah has also asked Akufo-Addo and Samira Bawumia to be guided in their responses to the public outcry against the allowances they were paid.
In a Facebook post reacting to this development, Dr Amoah said “What if we also decide that to reject your services from 2017 to date? The responses to these things must be measured. Pay attention.”
Founder of the All Peoples Congress (APC), Hassan Ayariga, has also disagreed with the decision of the Mrs Akufo-Addo to refund all the allowances paid her.
Mr Ayariga stated that First Ladies play an important role in the governance of the country through the emotional and physical support they give to the president.
Therefore, he said, they deserve to be paid the allowances.
“First, I think it is a wrong idea that she [Rebecca Akufo-Addo] refunded the money,” he said on Good Evening Ghana on Tuesday July 13.
“If the president is not well the First Lady is the first person to know,” he further stated while explaining the role of the First Lady.