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Opinions of Sunday, 12 November 2017

Columnist: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe Jr.

A Bill Akufo-Addo must not sign into law just yet

I am writing in support of those who have registered their vehement dissent to the Major Mahama Bill which, I understand, was passed by Parliament into an Act on November 8 which, incidentally, also happened to be the 10th birthday anniversary of my second-born son, namely, Yaw Sintim Okoampa-Ahoofe.

I am in support of the dissenters because the Mahama Act clearly violates the sacred principle of equality before the law, or what Prof. Stephen Kwaku Asare describes as the “principles of generality” (See “Lawyer Begs Akufo-Addo Not to Sign Major Mahama Trust Fund into Law” 3News.com / Ghanaweb.com 11/11/17)

The justification of such protestation is legitimately premised on the fact that the late Major Maxwell Adam Mahama was not the first serviceman, or national-security agent, to have perished in the line of duty, as it were.

President Addo DankwaAkufo-Addo is therefore being solemnly appealed to, to desist from signing the Mahama Act into law and, instead, have Parliament broaden the scope of the law to cover spouses and children whose security personnel sole/main breadwinners have similarly lost their lives, such as Major Mahama brutally did at Denkyira-Obuasi on May 29 this year, at the hands of a lynch-mob, while in the active line of duty, a day after my deceased mother would have turned 83.

To do otherwise would clearly be tantamount to a selective and an invidious application of both justice and the universal rule of law. Instead, as Prof. Asare aptly suggests, a National Trust Fund, presumably bearing the name of Major Mahama, should be established for this purpose. More so, in view of the very progressive and morally and politically constructive recent public announcement by Mr. Dominic Nitiwul, the Defense Minister, that Mrs. Barbara Mahama, the widow of Major Mahama, has been offered a job with one of Ghana’s foreign missions abroad, both as a salutary means of facilitating the healing process of Mrs. Mahama, as well as enabling her to nobly earn her keep, even while being materially assisted, together with her two children, in other ways.

What I find rather strange, if not downright bizarre, about the Major Mahama Bill, passed into an Act just this past Wednesday or Thursday, I forget precisely which, is the proviso that Mrs. Mahama and her children will be able to draw sustenance from the fund until she remarried. Now, I find this aspect of the Act to be rather tacky. It would have been more meaningful and practically more constructive, if the provisions of the Act had stipulated, for example, that the Mahama Family would be eligible to draw resources from the Fund for the next 20 to 25 years, by giving a specific cut-off date.

What if Mrs. Mahama never remarries? Or she gets remarried to a husband who wasn’t resourceful enough to cater for her two children? Or worse yet, she got into a conjugal bond that lasted for, let’s say, two years or less? Or one in which her next husband died a natural death but left nothing substantial for his step-children? But even more pertinent to ask: Why predicate her ability to draw from the Fund on the question of whether Mrs. Mahama decided to remarry or not? This does not sound to me like there were any very intelligent Members of the House on the Floor when the Mahama Bill came up for debate.

And this is also what makes it all more pertinent and significant for the Bill to be sent back to the august Floor of the House to be reconsidered and rendered more legally and constitutionally equitable and legitimate.