A flag bearer hopeful of the opposition National Democratic Congress, Elikplim Agbemava says he will not pay the nomination and filing fees his party has set aside for flag bearer aspirants in order to contest in its upcoming primaries.
After a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at the party’s Headquarters in Accra on Thursday, the General Secretary of the party, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, noted the nomination forms for the aspirants will cost GHȼ 20,000 and filing fee will cost GHȼ 400,000, adding that filing fee for women and persons with disabilities will be GHȼ 200,000.
The announcement was met with mixed reactions from a number of aspirants who raised eyebrows over the fee, with some suggesting it should be reduced since it is at variance with the Social Democratic philosophy of the NDC, a claim the General secretary has rubbished.
Today, eight (8) of the twelve (12) people hoping to lead the NDC have subsequently decided to boycott the picking of nomination forms as the party opened its doors for the picking of nomination forms scheduled for today and tomorrow.
Mr Agbemava, together with seven others have also petitioned the National Council of Elders of the party, under the chairmanship of the Founder, former President Jerry John Rawlings, to intervene to prevent the party from veering its social democratic principles.
Speaking to Mugabe Maase on Inside Politics on Radio XYZ 93.1, Mr Agbemava, a private legal practitioner, disclosed that until the council of Elders respond positively to their petition, he will not pick his nomination because he does not have that amount to pay.
“I don’t have that amount. If we want somebody to serve the country, you don’t let them empty their bank account before serving the country,” he noted.
“I’ll be setting a bad example if I pay the GHS 400, 000 filing fee,” he disclosed as he argued that the future generation will not be proud of him if he becomes part of what he described as “the marginalization of the grassroots from mainstream politics.”
Apart from Mr Agbemava, the other aspirants who signed the petition are the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Bagbin; former Minister of Trade and Industry, Ekow Spio-Garbrah; a former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority, Sylvester Mensah; a former Mayor of Kumasi, Kojo Bonsu; Nurudeen Iddrisu; Stephen Atubiga and Augustus Goosie Tanoh.
According to the petitioners, specific issues they had with the guidelines were that the NEC did not meet the procedural requirements set out in Article 42 (1) (f) of the NDC constitution for publishing electoral guidelines.
The NEC, they said, had generally not met standards of stakeholder consultations acceptable in the party, adding that in publishing the guidelines, thye NEC exceeded its powers and imposed eligibility criteria not provided for in the party’s constitution.
“These make the guidelines ultra vires to the NDC party constitution and thus null and void,” the petitioners stated.
They stated that NEC’s proposed guidelines imposed filing fees on aspirants “that are unreasonable and that call into question our basic commitment as social democrats”.
They also said the guidelines did not provide adequate assurance of a level-playing field for the primary in the context of openly displayed bias on the part of some members of NEC.
The petitioners also objected to NEC’s proposal that the entire electoral process be completed within 45 days from December 5, 2018 to January 19, 2019.
Filing fee ridiculous
Last week, Lawyer Agbemava hit hard on the General Secretary of his party, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, also known as General Mosquito over the filing fee, and called for NDC members to “get rid of him.”
To him, quoting such an amount as the filing fee for NDC flag bearer aspirants “is a corrupt betrayal of the trust the rank and file [of NDC] put in the executives” and added that the party’s Secretary, Mr Asiedu Nketiah be booted out.
“The many cadres whose toil and labour is the glory we share in the NDC never asked the current executives to pay such ridiculous amount before they join or occupy any position in the NDC. The 420,000 filing fee is a corrupt betrayal of the trust the rank and file put in the executives,” he said in a Facebook post on Saturday, December 1, 2018.
Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, NDC Gen. secretary.
Mr Agbemava, who is convinced the amount was the machinations of the General secretary, said “General Mosquito is the biggest threat to the growth and transformation of the NDC. The absolute power he pretends to wield is nauseating.”
He continued: “He [Asiedu Nketiah] has put a price on service to our mother Ghana. To him that costs 420,000 cedis. This is somebody whose background needs no introduction. Instead of ensuring that more like him are able rise from the abyss of social isolation to serve GHANA at the highest levels he shamelessly condones the marginalization of the grassroots from mainstream politics. The earlier we get rid of him the better.”
Social Democracy Not Poverty
Despite the sharp reactions from the aspirants, Mr Asiedu Nketia, believes the party’s decision to charge that amount does not mean the NDC is not a social democratic party.
At the party’s Headquarters on Thursday, he explained that the party intended to use the monies to organize 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?…I have not declared to be a presidential candidate so those who have declared to be presidential candidates must pay the cost”, he said to journalists and added that “Social democracy is not poverty.”
Breaking down the cost, Mr Asiedu Nketiah noted that the party will pay for the transportation of delegates to all 275 constituency centres as well as food. The party has peegd that cost at about GH¢ 4 million.
The printing of ballot papers with all the candidates which could reach 10 is also to be borne by the party as well as paying the Electoral Commission to supervise the primaries whose kind is the first of its kind in the country.
In an interview with Joy News, Mr Asiedu Nketiah suggested if many in the party were not happy about the amount and not ready to appreciate the cost of democracy, they could push for presidential candidates to be elected as it was done to the late president Prof. John Evans Atta Mills ahead pf the general elections in 2000.
“The shortest, cheapest means of getting a flagbearer is for us to go and appeal to our founder and say look, these are the aspirants. Look at all of us and make a choice as to who leads the party…Nobody will spend one cedis,” he said.