The Patriotic Forum for Accountable Governance (PaFFAG) has urged Ghanaians to take with ‘a pinch of salt’ any statement by former President John Dramani Mahama on his commitment to review article 71 of the Constitution on ex gratia related issues if elected in 2024.
It stated that the former President could not be trusted because the white paper on the Constitutional Review Committee report was issued by the Mills/Mahama administration which accepted that ex-presidents and persons who fell within article 71 be paid ex gratia.
It, therefore, said for Mr Mahama to make a U-turn to claim that he would review something he gave his blessings to and had benefited personally from was “a political gimmick and a lie”.
“Ghanaians cannot trust him for that since it is a fact that John Mahama cannot review ex gratia because from 2012 to 2016, he and his government, family, appointees and cronies are the most beneficiaries of end of service benefits in the Fourth Republic of our nation,” it said.
Addressing a press conference in Accra today, the Executive Director of PaFFAG, Kwame Baffoe, popularly known as Abronye, said “No former President and his appointees have ever benefited from end of service benefits and its accompanying emoluments like John Mahama has done.”
It would be recalled that in a media interview recently, Mr Mahama hinted that the next government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) would review the 1992 Constitution in relation to the payment of ex-gratia to Article 71 office holders.
"The next NDC government must commit to the implementation of the review of the 1992 Constitution, which was begun by President John Evans Atta Mills of blessed memory,” he said.
Breach of commitment
Mr Baffoe, who is also the Bono Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), said on page 56 of the 2014 message on the State of the Nation delivered by the former President in Parliament, he told the House that no government appointee would be allowed to purchase his or her official car or residence at the end of one’s public service.
Contrary to his commitment, he said Mr Mahama himself became the first person to breach the measure to protect state property.
For instance, he said on December 19, 2016, in a letter signed by the Chief of Staff at the time, Julius Debrah, the former President was said to have requested to have bungalow No. 3,
Prestige Link, Cantonments and its adjoining facilities as his official retirement home and bungalow No.6, 3rd Avenue, Ridge as his office.
“It must, however, be appreciated that as at the time of this request, John Mahama was still President and that unimaginably contradicted his own message on the State of the Nation Address in 2014.
“Mr John Mahama received GH¢14 million in 2013 as ex gratia and is still enjoying a whooping GH¢15 million by way of benefits and other privileges as a former President,” he said.
Taking on former President for claiming that he only received pensions as his ex gratia, Mr Baffoe said Mr Mahama must appreciate that per article 71, there was nothing like “pension” provided for by the Constitution.