Five out of 13 presidential aspirants of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) managed to pick nomination forms yesterday before the 5pm deadline to contest in the upcoming primaries of the party.
The five are former President John Dramani Mahama, who is highly tipped to win the elections slated for January 19, 2019; former Vice Chancellor of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Joshua Alabi; former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Sylvester Adinam Mensah, a member of the NDC’s Communications Team, Stephen Atubiga and Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Alban S.K. Bagbin.
Each aspirant paid the mandatory GH¢20,000 set by the party as nomination fee, thus the five yesterday gave the ‘broke’ NDC a GH¢100,000 lifeline.
However, eight aspirants- Nurideen Iddrisu, oil and gas consultant, George Kwaku Ricketts Hagan, Member of Parliament (MP) for Cape Coast South; Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, former Trade and Industry Minister, Lawyer Elikplim Agbemava, David Dotse Kwame Kuwadah, Kojo Bonsu, former Chief Executive of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) Goosie Tanoh, a cadre and George Boateng, a businessman, failed to pick their forms yesterday.
It’s unclear whether the failure of Mr Spio-Garbrah and the other candidates to pick the nomination forms has something to do with the exorbitant fees set by the party.
The said aspirants are said to have petitioned the Council of Elders, headed by former President Jerry John Rawlings, who is the founder of the party, but there was no response from the elders at the close of nominations yesterday.
Joshua Alabi, however, said that he refused to endorse the petition because it contained threats.
“When you are petitioning senior colleagues, you don’t issue threats,” he said.
The presidential hopeful added that the said threats amount to tying the hands of persons whom the petitioners are seeking audience with for a resolution of the matter.
Per the party’s regulations, the aspirants would be disqualified for failing to meet the deadline for picking the nomination forms, but with the current dispute over the GH¢420,000 ‘killer’ fees, which downward review Mr Rawlings has called for, it’s unclear whether the party would actually take that action.
Supporters of ex-President Mahama from the Asawaase Constituency in the Ashanti Region picked the nomination forms on his behalf on December 3, 2018.
Yesterday, supporters of Sly Mensah from La Dade Kotopon Constituency picked his forms.
An NDC guru, Ken Dzirasah, accompanied by some party members, including Victor Adawudu, picked forms on behalf of Joshua Alabi.
That of Stephen Atubiga was picked by his supporters from the Onion Market in Accra hours before the deadline.
His supporters claimed to be onion and yam vendors from the Agbogbloshie Market in Accra.
Supporters of Mr. Bagbin also picked the forms on his behalf yesterday in Accra before the deadline.
Messrs Bagbin and Mensah later dissociated themselves from those who picked the forms, saying the people who picked the forms did not have their mandate.
Mr Bagbin described the GHȼ400,000 filing fee and GHȼ20,000 nomination fees as opulent and elitist.
“I have no knowledge of those who picked the form on my behalf, I was not consulted before such an action was taken”
“I have the name of the leader of the group, I know him from my constituency, but I have not seen him in a while,” he said.
Sources told DAILY GUIDE that the aspirants actually paid for the forms through their supporters and pretentiously forwarded the petition to Council of Elders for review of the filing and nomination fees.
Mr. Rawlings, in a statement issued by the Communication Directorate of his office, expressed outrage at the new fees, saying “I doubt, if anyone of us who has served with integrity, relying on our salaries, can raise these filing fees unless we engaged in some unethical behaviour while in office, unless we abused or misused our positions during our tenure.”
Many people are wondering whether the supposed supporters, who ‘paid’ for the aspirants can be described as “thieves” as stated by Mr. Rawlings recently.
On December 3, Messrs Mensah, Bagbin, Spio-Garbrah, Atubiga, Nurudeen Iddrisu, Tanoh, Kojo Bonsu and Agbemava, all boycotted the two-day filing process to protest against the exorbitant fees being charged by the party which appears to be in contradiction with the party’s social democracy ideology.
Mr. Atubiga also urged the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) to investigate the finances of any of the 13 candidates who might pay the GH¢420,000 to the party.
By Melvin Tarlue