The most typical character of Ghana’s political elite – greed, would yet be displayed when former President Kufuor’s ex-gratia awards are made known to the Ghanaian public today, Monday January 19, 2009.
What some consider vulgar demands of former President Kufuor were agreed upon by the Chinery-Hesse Commission and approved by Parliament January 6, 2009, a day before newly elected President John Atta Mills was sworn into office.
The former president has requested that he should be given two houses – one inside Accra and the other outside, at a location of his choice.
He is also requesting to be paid 18 months’ salary for each year that he served as ex-gratia, that is for every one year that he served as president, he should be paid 18 months’ salary.
Former President Kufuor is demanding that he should be paid a pension equivalent to the salary of the sitting President and he should be provided with six chauffer driven cars including an all purpose one, which means a bullet proof or an armored plate car.
In addition, these cars are to be fueled and paid for by the state and these cars must be replaced each four years. He also wants a motorcade so he would not be caught up in traffic.
The former President is also demanding three professional and Personal Assistants, adequate security, non-taxable ex-gratia awards, pension benefits, entertainment at the expense of the state and one million dollar seed money for the establishment of a foundation.
While it is proper to reward ex-presidents, this is obviously obscene and inconsiderate in such difficult economic times.
The irony of the demands is based on the fact that the former President has left behind a battered economy – an inflation rate of 18.1 percent, and an economy running at a deficit. The government spent more than they had earned over 14 percent of GDP. The national currency, the cedi has depreciated in recent times against almost all the major currencies of the world.
Recently, in the US, when CEOs of the world’s richest automobile companies flew in private jets to go beg for money in Washington, the act was frowned upon, and they were forced to go back and return in modesty.
Clearly, Ghanaians are being confronted increasingly with the reality of political life in the country. That indeed, most people who get into politics do so because it offers them leverage, immunes them from prosecution when they blatantly break the laws of the land and political power also becomes a desirable tool for amassing wealth, either while still in office or out of office.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi