Editorial

Editorial: Togbe Afede’s Ex-Gratia Act of Honour

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Editorial

The Good Book has many scriptures for humanity to live decently. One of such scriptures is Deuteronomy 24:14-15, where it is written: “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin.”

The above scripture is authoritative and underscores the urgency in paying any one who renders an agreed service to you. The Chronicle would like to add that there cannot be any crime committed if someone decides to forfeit what is due him after rendering a service. That’s the person’s conviction.

In January 2021, Parliament approved the Prof. Baidu Ntiamoah Committee’s report, recommending emoluments for the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature. The Committee’s report also made provisions for the spouses of the President and Vice President to be paid salaries.

The decision to formalise the payment of salaries to the First and Second Ladies gained massive attention on traditional and social media, with many expressing angst against the idea.

In response, the First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, refunded an amount of GH¢899,097.84 paid to her as allowance from the year 2017, and further declined any allowances in the future.

The First Lady stressed that she only received that which existed and [was] attached to her status, albeit informally.

Following the gesture, the Second Lady, Mrs. Samira Bawumia, refunded an amount of                               GH¢887, 482 to the State and pledged to continue to deliver humanitarian interventions and initiatives in the areas of health, education and economic empowerment.

The Chronicle recalls that in the above scenarios, both the First and Second Ladies decided to refund allowances paid to them and reject future payments following public outcry against the decision to formalise their allowances and/or salaries.

Fast forward to 2022 and Togbe Afede XIV, Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State, President of Asogli Traditional Area and former President of the National House of Chiefs, does a master stroke.

The Chief felt, though legally, he is entitled to GH¢365,392.57 as ex-gratia for services rendered to the country as a Council of State member for four years, though morally he thought otherwise.

The Chronicle is particularly struck by the reason the respected traditional ruler assigned for rejecting the huge amount – that he was undeserving of the amount, considering that he offered his services on a part-time basis, especially as he received a monthly salary and was entitled to other privileges.

The Chronicle would have thought that the entire population would have applauded Togbe Afede for the historic deed of returning to the State what was legally due him. Togbe Afede believes serving on the Council of State is a privilege and not an avenue to demand compensation. He is convinced the work of the Council of State does not merit ex-gratia.

He has not instructed any past or current member of the Council of State to refund or reject their ex-gratia. What he has only done is set a golden example for fellow Ghanaians to emulate, if they wish to save the country some Ghana Cedis.

The total of GH¢8.76 million paid as ex-gratia to the members of the Council of State for their four years of service could do a lot for the whole country.

GH¢8.76 can build 12 six-unit classroom blocks at a cost of GH¢700,000 each. The same amount can procure 87,600 desks at GH¢100 each and save 226,542 pupils from learning on the bare floor.

Again the amount can provide 4,171 beds to deal with Ghana’s no-bed syndrome in public hospitals. It can give life to 604 pre-mature babies in need of incubators, sold at GH¢14,500 each.

However, since the payment of the ex gratia is legally supported by the constitution, The Chronicle can only wish that there will be more Togbe Afedes who will let go of their ex-gratia to the state, to take care of very pressing issues. Perhaps where The Chronicle might disagree with Togbe is when he said that the extra payment was inappropriate. In our humble view this statement might have slurred the dignity of the other honourable members who took the money, which is backed by the constitution.

Legalities may not always be morally right. So just like Rebecca and Samira did last year which we captioned ‘Mongyi Mo Sika’, to wit ‘take your money’, in the July 14, 2021 edition of The Chronicle, Togbe Afede says Ghana should take his ex-gratia and we thank him for that gesture.

THE CHRONICLE

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