Influential news analysis show, Newsfile, discussed the salary emolument saga, the NPP MP, Kennedy Agyapong’s threat on Luv FM’s Erastus Asare Donkor and allegations levelled against Chief Justice Kwesi Anin-Yeboah, to the effect that he demanded a $5million bribe to influence a case pending before the Supreme Court.
With panellists, veteran journalist Abdul Kweku Baako, lawyers Kofi Bentil and Martin Kpebu and policy analyst Dr Charles Wereko Brobby and former MD of Graphic Communications Group, Ken Ashibey, discussed the three topical issues of the week.
Here are six things we learned.
- Ghanaians should make Article 71 an election issue in 2024 – Bentil
Continuing in his outrage over the emoluments for the political class, IMANI Vice-President Kofi Bentil does not want the matter to die a natural death. After leaving office based on approved recommendations of the president assembled emoluments committee, that class enjoys huge financial benefits after leaving office.
There has been at least seven such committees. And veteran journalist Kweku Baako noted several of these committees captured a popular feeling that the political class is insensitive to the ordinary Ghanaian’s plight.
So how do Ghanaians get that law changed? Kofi Bentil strongly recommends that Ghanaians should “work hard” to ensure that Article 71 becomes an electoral matter come 2024. He suggested that political parties should be pressurized to make manifesto promises that capture the displeasure of Ghanaians at the “obscene” benefits attached to the “predatory elite” who leave office.
2. Rebecca Akufo-Addo has very high emotional intelligence – Martin Kpebu
Legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu, has commended the First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, for returning all allowances (¢899,097.84) paid her since January 2017, following public outcry.
“She has done marvelous by returning the money. That is the mark of very high emotional intelligence,” Kpebu appreciated the move noting that “people on the ground are suffering.”
The First Lady, in a letter, bemoaned insults she received following recommendations that the Emolument Committee that the convention of allowances paid to First and Second Ladies be formalized by law.
3. Presidents make a lot of money – Martin Kpebu
A comment by President Kufuor was referenced during the programme. It was legal practitioner Martin Kpebu, recalled how John Agyekum once said once you become president, the money comes “waa, waaa, waa”. He said Kufuor once referring to donations and gifts that individuals and companies shower on the president. Kpebu made the point that political leaders make enough to take care of themselves and do not need the state to take care of their spouses, such as putting them on an allowance.
4. Let’s insert a spousal allowance to the president’s salary – Kofi Bentil
Legal practitioner Kofi Bentil recommended that instead of paying an allowance to the First and Second Ladies, the government or Emoluments Committee may consider inserting a spousal allowance into the president and vice-president’s salaries.
5. Parliament can rescind decision on emoluments reports – Baako
True, parliament has approved recommendations of the Prof. Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu committee on the emoluments of the executive and proposal to legalise the payment of allowances to the spouses of the president and vice-president.
The parliament that approved this was the seventh parliament. Ghana is working under an eighth parliament. But in view of the uproar over the emolument committee report, Kweku Baako believes the previous approval can be revisited.
It is not a fait accompli.
He said the 7th parliament actually rescinded an approval granted by the 6th parliament. He said on January 5, 2017, that parliament reversed a decision that former presidents should not be given residential accommodation.
And so, even though the current emolument report has been approved, there is still a way out. An NDC MP for South Dayi, Rockson Dafeamekpor, and a group, ASEPA, have signalled, inviting the Supreme Court to give a judgment over the constitutionality of the decision to legalize allowances for spouses of the president and vice-president.
But Baako believes there is an easier route. “If parliament is minded to go back, somebody can go back and move a motion for a rescission.”
6. GJA has to set up a media defence fund
Kennedy Agyapong, on Friday, July 9, was reported to have verbally abused and threatened to attack Luv FM’s Erastus Asare Donkor for the journalistic work that the latter undertook during the recent shootings and killing incident at Ejura on Net 2 TV, a television station owned by the MP.
The Ghana Journalist Association needs to set up a media defence fund to champion the rights of journalists who come under attack. The GJA should solicit funds and find a set of lawyers to take on people who abuse journalists.
He said having a defence fund establishes some certainty of a response when journalists are attacked. “If you mess with the media, you will be taken up and run through the system.”
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