Flagbearer-aspirants of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) would each have to cough up a whopping GH¢420,000 in their bid to lead the party into election 2020.
The price of nomination forms of the party has been pegged at GH¢20,000 while candidates are required to pay another GH¢400,000 as filing fee.
Female candidates however, will pay 50% less of the filing fee while there will be an additional reduction for aspirants with physical disabilities.
This follows a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on yesterday.
All things being equal, the NDC is set to bag a total of over fifty billion old Ghana Cedis (five million Ghana Cedis) if all the twelve aspirants dare to pick the nomination forms and file accordingly.
So far some 12 candidates including former president John Dramani Mahama, Sylvester Mensah, a Former Chief Executive of the National Health Insurance Authority (NIA) and Alban Bagbin, Member of Parliament for Nadwokli Kaleo have declared their intention to lead the NDC even as the party prepares to go to the polls on Saturday, January 19, 2019, to select a candidate.
Even before any payment could be made to the party’s accounts, tongues are wagging whether the monies the party seeks the aspirants to pay is not a way to push out some of the aspirants.
Other schools of thought claim that the rather exorbitant fee is a deliberate move by the party to ensure that the presidential slot becomes only the preserve of former President Mahama who is widely tipped to be resourceful enough to pay.
But, the Party’s General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, has mounted a spirited defense for the party’s decision to charge GH¢400,000 as filing fees for the aspirants.
He explained the party intends to use the monies to be raised to organise the party’s presidential primaries.
“The cost of living is high but somebody must pay the cost of running the elections; who is going to pay? he wondered.
”I have not declared to be a presidential candidate so those who have declared to be presidential candidates must pay the cost”, he told newsmen in Accra yesterday.
He rejected criticism that the fee is at variance with the Social Democratic political philosophy of the NDC.
“Social democracy is not poverty,” he said and run a lesson on the party’s philosophy which he said means allowing market forces to work but still put in place mechanisms to protect those affected negatively by free market rules.
The NDC General Secretary said presidential aspirants should ‘weigh themselves well’ first before deciding to contest.
“If you want to pretend and you bring your money, we also pretend with your money. You will not have the option of any refund”, he continued.
The 2020 presidential candidate must be a person with fund-raising prowess, he indicated.
”It will cost money to undertake a presidential campaign [in 2020] so we shouldn’t create the impression that once you become a flagbearer, the party is going to get money from somewhere to give you to do the campaign”
He claimed, the party’s political rival the NPP charged ¢500,000 from flagbearer aspirants some three years ago. Checks show, NPP presidential aspirants were asked to pay GH¢85,000 in the 2014 presidential primaries.
For the 2016 presidential elections, the Electoral Commission set GH¢50,000 for presidential candidates.
Meanwhile, Nii Amassah Namoale, Campaign Coordinator for Professor Joshua Alabi, an aspiring flag bearer of the party is angry over the amount.
He insists the amount is “outrageous” and further called on the Council of Elders of the NDC to intervene.
Speaking on Asempa FM’s Ekossii Sen programme yesterday, Mr. Namoale said: “In fact the amount is outrageous and unreasonable but this is a NEC decision. We will like to appeal to the Council of Elders to meet with the NEC to review that amount.”
He added that: “The unreasonableness is on the date, you cannot use 10 days to tour the whole country to sign on the form, y ou can’t. That 10 days is too short a time…”
He further appealed to all the other aspirants to reject the amount.
“No matter what Prof. Alabi will still contest. I will plead with the other flag bearer aspirants including former president Mahama to reject the amount, the fee should come below GH₵100, 000,” he said.
Pollster and Managing Editor of the Daily Dispatch Newspaper, Ben Ephson has advised the many flagbearer aspirants seeking to lead the NDC in the 2020 elections, to merge against former president John Mahama.
This, in his view, is the only way they can minimise the margin of what he describes as an obvious win for Mr Mahama.
“I think if they consolidate, like four or five come together and say ‘we are backing one person against Mahama’ it will be an interesting race.
By: Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson