Tongues are wagging from all quarters barely forty-eight hours after the Electoral Commission (EC) announced a GH¢100,000 filing fee for presidential candidates in the December elections.
While others opine that such moves only makes politicians corrupt when elected, other argue that the presidency appears be sold to the highest bidder.
However, Independent Presidential hopeful, Jacob Osei Yeboah (JOY) believes the filing fee would excite drug barons to file as presidential candidates.
Mr Osei Yeboah joins opposition parties including the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Progressive Peoples Party (PPP) and the All People’s Congress (APC) who have described the fees as exorbitant and unreasonable.
For Mr. Osei Yeboah, the new fee is a hundred per cent increase from the 2016 filing fee which was pegged at GH¢50,000.
He is sure that noted that if care is not taken, a drug baron could become president in the near future, due to what he calls the emphasis of monetary matters by the EC.
“I think that the issue with regards to nomination should not actually be on the filing fee. The United States with the biggest economy in the world, with the richest people, somebody like Donald Trump who was a billionaire in dollars, the filing fee is $500 an equivalent of about GH¢3,000.”
“And if a country like Ghana with our shattered economy, you want a presidential filing fee and they are charging a hundred thousand which is about forty times that of the US, then we need to look at the spirit, the psychology behind this continual increase in the filing fee. I think that if we don’t take care we are destroying the spirit, the psychology and the good heart and the minds of someone to serve Ghana.”
He explained further that in an interaction on Starr FM yesterday that from the EC’s perspective, it was going to serve as a bar so as to make sure that those who are really serious would be able to qualify but at the same time, it should be a two-edged sword so that “we do not destroy the good minds that have helped develop our nation.”
Mr. Osei Yeboah leadership not about the political party that thinks they have amassed wealth for themselves and because of that no matter what and that “if you don’t take care we are going to have a drug baron to become a president because we are dwelling our attention on monetary matters”.
The Deputy General Secretary of the NDC Peter Boamah Otukornor said he is yet to come to terms with the rationale behind the fee.
“I don’t know the thinking that went in the charge. I think it is the highest in recent times and I think the EC will have to take a second look at it. This is an attack on our democracy and there is no justification of this hundred per cent increment from the last one”.
The NDC’s deputy scribe is not the only person dazed by the EC’s ‘huge’ filing fee.
The Communications Director of the PPP, Felix Mantey said the Commission is being arbitrary with the charge.
“This is outrageous and we cannot accept it. We will meet the other political parties over it and then decide the next approach to handle this matter. The amount is just too high” he said.
For the Senior Programs Officer for the Center for Democratic Development Ghana (CDD-Ghana), Nana Kwabena Aborampah Mensah the fee by EC is just outrageous.
“Come to think of it, every activity in the electoral process had been budgeted for, so why the need to put pressure on the aspirants? We are causing further strain on the public purse because the country already allocates huge sums of money for the conduct of elections, then there is the issue of parties and people winning elections and having to recoup the monies they invested.”
Mr. Mensah attributed corruption in the nation to the expenses aspirants incur in their quest to win elections.
“We got alarmed after research into the cost of politics in Ghana. We found out that parliamentary candidates that seek political power spend about USD 85,000 on just the contest. That excludes the filing fee, campaigning, and other expenses. This is really outrageous and should be looked at. This has implications for governance. Talk of corruption, mismanagement and what have you, because the people need to recoup the monies they invest.”
Mr. Mensah further suggested that the EC be made to render annual accounts of its expenses so as to ensure transparency in the Commission’s expenditure.
But pollster Ben believes there is nothing wrong with the filing fee.
Mr Ephson said the amount by the EC is okay.
“I think that if the smaller parties will be a bit more focused, they can join resources but everyone wants to do their own thing. I think the amount is okay. We have a number of mushroom parties who field a number of individuals so basically if you are a party who has been running your office for the whole year, you’ll find ways of paying the GH¢100,000.”
Meanwhile, Deputy General Secretary of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Obiri Boahen has welcomed the filing fee stressing that parties that cannot raise the said amount has no business participating in the upcoming polls.
“If you cannot raise GH¢100,000 please get out. Those who can mobilise will pay,” he said.
As though that was not enough, a Deputy Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Bossman Eric Asare has justified the fee indicating that the increment is in tandem with the value of the currency.
He said: “In each particular year, it is important you look at the value of GH¢50,000 in 2016, then compare it to GH¢50,000 in 2020 then you will notice that the Commission has not increased it much.”
Dr. Bossman further stated: “And even when you look at the [filing fee for] parliamentary [aspirants], the GH¢10,000, you will realize that the Commission has reduced the price because we all know that GH¢10,000 in 2016, is not the same as GH¢10,000 in 2020. The Commission is doing this to promote multiparty democracy.”