Lawyer Elikplim Agbemava, a flag bearer hopeful of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has hit hard on the General Secretary of his party, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, also known as General Mosquito, calling for NDC members to “get rid of him” as early as possible.
The infuriated private legal practitioner who is hoping to lead the party to election 2020 is unhappy about the amount flag bearer aspirants of the party have to pay to file their nomination forms ahead of the party’s primaries in January next year.
This follows the announcement last Thursday that nominations forms for the aspirants will cost GHȼ 20,000 while a filing fee will cost GHȼ 400,000.
After a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at the party’s Headquarters in Accra, the party resolved that filing fee for women and persons with disabilities will also be GHȼ 200,000.
A number of the aspirants have 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.
But Mr Agbemava believes 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 of his position.
“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, attacked Mr Asiedu Nketiah saying “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.”
However the executives of the party believe the amount is fair to all aspirants because it will take care of the primaries that comes off in January and continue to help run the NDC as it is in opposition.
A deputy General Secretary of NDC, Lawyer Barbara Asamoah explained that the amount was in the interest of the aspirants.
She to Kwame Minkah, host of ‘Ete Sen’ on Radio XYZ 93.1 on Friday that although there have been some concerns raised over the amount, the leadership of NDC thought it was fair and not out of place.
“This is equity…We have not said someone should pay 300,000 cedis for others to pay 400,000 cedis… That is how it is. The 400,000 cedis is a contribution to organize the primaries…If you take into consideration the expenses of the aspirants as they tour the country to meet the delegates, the amount we have quoted is reasonable…I have not said I want to be a president, they are the ones who have showed interest and once they have they have to fund the primaries,” she said.
Although the party take dues from its members, Barbara Asamoah said the party cannot rely on that alone to be able to effectively run the activities of the largest opposition party till the 2020 elections, especially as the prices of goods and services have risen widely as compared to when NDC handed power to the ruling new Patriotic Party (NPP) in 2017.
“In 2016 for instance, the price of a box of A4 sheets went for 70 cedis but today it’s going for 130 cedis and the party factored all these before coming out with this amount…Besides the delegates to vote are about 300, 000 and you know that organizing the elections and taking care of them on the day comes at a huge cost,” she explained.
Clarifying that the election of their flag bearer will take place in all the 275 constituencies across the country, Barbara jumped to the defense of the NEC saying “It’s a path we have chosen. We need to get a presidential candidate, and this is what we need to do to get them elected so they should not complain…We’ve not asked them to raise the money by themselves. You want to be a president so basically, you should be able to have people to help you raise that amount.”
Social Democracy Not Poverty
Despite the sharp reactions from the aspirants, the General Secretary of the party, 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.