Celebrated investigative journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni has stated that asking former President John Mahama to refund ex-gratia payments he has received in the past for promising to take steps to scrap ex-gratia payments is belittling the issue of such payments.
John Mahama had promised during the launch of his campaign to become the flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that he would scrap the payment of ex-gratia to Article 71 workers, who are entitled to the payments.
But activists of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and other persons such as lawyer Martin Kpebu have demanded that he show commitment to implementing the promise by first returning the ex-gratia he has received in the past.
Writing on the matter, Manasseh Azure Awuni argued that “the fact that John Mahama has benefitted from ex-gratia doesn’t mean he cannot have a different opinion about it today. The fact that his previous administration had more than 60 ministers and deputies doesn’t mean he cannot think differently when it comes to the number of ministers.
I will not ridicule him. Ex-gratia is something Ghanaians feel strongly about. There is an apparent consensus that it is wasteful and should be scrapped, especially for some political office holders.
A potential president who wants to scrap or reduce its beneficiaries should be encouraged to do it and more. I will not ridicule him. I will not say he should return what he has benefitted. That is belittling the discourse.”
He added that John Mahama deserved to be encouraged in his attempt to right wrongs as we seek to build a better society.
“In order to build a strong democracy, citizens and civil society have a responsibility to be critical of duty-bearers. They also have a responsibility to encourage those who make an attempt to put in policies that are in the interest of the people.
I will encourage John Mahama to initiate more of the policies that will bring sanity into our politics. If he wins, we can police him and his administration to implement them,” he added.
Meanwhile, they is a face-off between NPP and NDC activists on the matter of John Mahama refunding exgratia payments he has received in the past.