The Vice President of think tank IMANI Ghana has noted that it is vital to establish a healthy relationship between States and Presidential spouses rather than creating tense situations.
His comment comes on the back of the rejection of salaries by the First Lady and wife of the Vice President following the public’s indication of displeasure in the move by the Emolument Committee.
“I think it is unfortunate, and I think that the state must not have this kind of tensed relationship with First Ladies,” he said.
The Prof Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu-led Presidential Committee on Emoluments recommended payment of salaries to the officeholders as indicated in Article 71, but the public received the news with displeasure.
Sharing his views on Joy News’ Newsfile Saturday, Kofi Bentil said the spouses must always be put on the pedestal, “they must be gracious persons who even though they are not literally mothers of the nation must be seen in that light.”
Following the public’s disapproval, both spouses have refunded a total sum of what they had received since 2017 to date. Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo describes the public’s action as distasteful, seeking to portray her as “a venal, self-serving and self-centred woman”.
The think tank Vice President said it was not surprising that Mrs Akufo-Addo was offended, “but I did not think it will get to the point where she will return the money.”
He, however, noted that returning the money does not stop the conversation, although “I understand why the First Lady and ‘Second Lady’ have done what they did.’
“We should get to the point where it is not the prerogative of the First Lady to say I will, or I will not do it because it if we have heads of states attending a conference in Ghana etc., whether she likes it or not, for the sake of the nation, she has to perform some duties,” he said.
Kofi Bentil further noted that there is a need to find a solution to the issue quickly and possibly seek ways of assuaging the feeling of the spouses.
Citing national security issues, he said he disagrees with those suggesting that the presidential spouses should find work to do.
“If we allow First Ladies to work, the cost of security alone and destruction alone will be far more than what the cost as to allow them to perform just state duties and be safe,” he pointed.
“God forbid, if we have a security situation like say a kidnap of a First Lady, you will understand what it means when we say they should not expose themselves. We will have to deploy the whole Ghana Army because it will be an action against the state,” he explained.
Mr Bentil, therefore, recommended that just as it has been done for multinational CEOs, among others, “let us give the President a certain percentage of his salary as a spousal allowance to take care of duties that the First Ladies have to perform.”
“If there are other things that the state requires them to undertake, the state should properly resource them to do it,” he suggested.