Mr Razak Kojo Opoku, a member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has said, the proposal to give Presidential Spouses some form of benefits from the State is a step in the right direction.
He said: “We all appreciate the immense role of the 31st December Women’s Movement under the leadership of the former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings”.
Mr Razak Opoku in an interview with the Ghana News Agency said through the movement, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings was able to support her husband former President Jerry John Rawlings’ regime in critical areas of the economy.
“Through the 31st December Women’s Movement hundreds of women were empowered economically and socially through acquiring skillful employment and entrepreneurship. She established hundreds of pre-schools through which underprivileged women enrolled their wards,” he said.
Mr Razak Opoku said Ghana’s current First Lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo has contributed extremely well, especially in the health sector through her foundation – ‘Rebecca Foundation’, adding, “the Mother and Baby Unit of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), the 41-bed Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital to provide quality and adequate health care to children, both benefits of the Rebecca Foundation.”
He said similarly, contributions were made from others such as the Lordina Foundation and the Samira Empowerment and Humanitarian Projects.
The NPP member said the individual First and Second Ladies over the years had significantly contributed to the governance and sociology-economic development of Ghana without any official budget allocations from the Government.
He said through their respective foundations relied on donations and sponsorship from the private sector, and sometimes with the support from international partners, they are serving the nation.
Mr Razak Opoku said the projects of First and Second Ladies normally become redundant after the exit of the governments of their husbands, saying, “The intended benefits would help to support the First and Second Ladies to complete the projects they started while their husbands were in power.”
He said apart from initiating, funding and supporting developmental projects to compliment government’s efforts, First and Second Ladies also represent the country at various local and international conferences/programmes.
Mr Razak Opoku however said that the discussion around the subject, whether or not First and Second Ladies deserve salaries was healthy for evolving multi-party democracy.
“I think that the government should continue to encourage discussions on the payment of salaries for First and Second Ladies. Government should further engage Ghanaians, political parties, CSOs and critical stakeholders on the way forward, the government should also have to find out globally if that is the standard and best practices to pay salaries to First and Second Ladies.
In my candid opinion, First and Second Ladies deserve benefits not necessarily called salary. If Ghanaians are not comfortable with the word ‘salary’ the government should amend it to a word acceptable to Ghanaians for national cohesion”.
He said: “I think that the government should present an official Bill (1st & 2nd Ladies Salaries Bill) to Parliament for deliberations, consensus building and subsequent approval, through the Bill, we will be able to fine tune the proposal and get the necessary backing from Ghanaians.
We will be able to also outline in detail the job description, roles and responsibilities of First and Second Ladies under the 4th Republican Constitution. Our First and Second Ladies deserve to be taken care of by the State, especially the widows.”