Former President John Dramani Mahama has described the comment by private legal practitioner Martin Kpebu to him to return all the ex gratia paid to him in the past following his promise to cancel it, as silly.
Addressing supporters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Volta region on Saturday, March 4, Mr Mahama said “I said categorically that when we come into office we will cancel ex gratia for the executives because the president is in charge of the executive, so he can cancel it for the executives but then you have to persuade the other arms of government to see that there is no fairness in continuing to pay ourselves ex gratia when the ordinary worker does not receive it, because you are the leaders, you must show by example. If the economy is in crisis why should we continue to take ex gratia when the rest of the public and civil services don’t take it. So, I said categorically that we will cancel exgratia.
“And then somebody who should know better, a lawyer, he said, then I should refund all the ex gratia we took before to show Ghanaians that yes, we are serious about canceling it, he does not even know the principle in our constitution that says that you can’t pass retroactive legislative if you pass legislative today, it does not affect what happened in the past, what he says is a bit silly because it is like saying, because we have introduced free SHS all of us should go and get a refund of our school fees that we paid in the past. That is how silly what he is saying is.”
Mr Martin Kpebu had said it makes sense to ask Mr Mahama to return the ex gratia that he received after indicating that he is going to cancel ex gratia payment should he win the next elections as President.
As a sign of commitment, Mr Kepbu said, Mr Mahama should return all the payments made to him.
Speaking on the Key Points on TV3 Saturday, March 4, Mr Kpebu said “Mahama made money whiles as president so he should look within himself and say look ‘I will return it’. He should return it because in these national elections they are going to do, hundreds of millions of dollars, where does it come from? They made money so the exgratia is small. So he should just tell the people ‘I have grown older, I think I have become wiser, I am returning the money ,’ That exgratia he should return it
“You know Dan Kwaku Yeboah of Peace FM , I think he is the lead campaigner for Mr Mahama to return his ex gratia. When I looked at it I said yes it made sense. Mr Mahama should do introspection and return it as a sign of good faith, that once I have returned the money I am committed. Number two, the amendment he should put into writings.”
A Law lecturer Justice Abdulai has also cautioned Ghanaians to be “measured” in their hope about promises by any politician to scrap ex gratia as entrenched in the 1992 Constitution.
Also a legal practitioner, Mr Abdulai said any president who promises to scrap ex gratia for Article 71 office holders will find the process very cumbersome.
“Scrapping ex gratia will be very difficult,” he said in an interview with Media General‘s Noble Crosby Annan on Thursday, March 2.
This comes in the wake of the promise by former President John Dramani Mahama that he will scrap ex gratia when he gets the nod to lead this country again.
“The payment of ex gratia to members of the executive will be scrapped,” Mr Dramani Mahama announced when he launched his bid to be 2024 Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
“The necessary constitutional steps to take this will start in earnest in 2025. We will also persuade members of the other arms of government to accept its removal,” he assured.
But Mr Abdulai, who lectures at the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), said the emoluments of persons entitled for ex gratia are not determined by a President but by the constitution.
“This is not a decision that is made by Parliament,” he added.
He said before an amendment is made, the entire constitution may need to be reviewed.
“For all of us who have hope, we should be measured in our hope,” he cautioned.
Mr Abdulai said a referendum will, for instance, need to be conducted to have this changed and so the scrapping will not rest with one president but “the entirety of Ghanaians will have to come together”.