Former President Jerry John Rawlings
Founder of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Jerry John Rawlings, has subtly agreed with Stephen Atubiga, one of the 13 presidential aspirants of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that anyone, who is able to pay the staggering GH¢420,000 nomination and filing fees is a thief.
Mr. Rawlings said the fees being charged by the party would send wrong signals about the philosophical foundation of the party.
The former president expressed the concern when the newly-elected National Executive Committee of the party called on him at his office at Ridge in Accra on Friday.
The party’s founder advised the National Executive Committee to review their decision and find alternatives to address the legitimate concern of raising funds to finance the presidential elections.
He also called for the restoration of the missing integrity in the party.
Last Thursday the NDC set GH¢400,000 as filing fees and GH¢20,000 for nomination forms for its upcoming presidential primaries.
The announcement created public outcry and virtually all the aspirants, except former President John Mahama, have registered their dissatisfaction with the fees.
Mr. Mahama appears to support the decision of the party executive to impose the excessively high fees on the presidential candidates.
In 2015, whilst in power, the NDC charged its aspirants GH¢50,000 at that time when ex-President John Mahama was the sole candidate, but the party has suddenly increased the amount.
The party’s General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia has argued that the NDC is broke within just two years of losing power to the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
But 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.”
Mr. Rawlings, who has always accused the erstwhile Mahama administration of corruption, therefore urged the NDC’s leadership to review the GH¢420,000 fees.
Already, eight aspirants namely, Alban Bagbin, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Sylvester Mensah, Stephen Atubiga, Nurudeen Iddrisu, Goosie Tanoh, Kojo Bonsu and Elikplim Agbemava, have boycotted the two-day filing process started by the NDC yesterday, Monday, 3rd December, 2018.
They have also petitioned the party’s Council of Elders to review the fees downwards.
Mr. Atubiga urged the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) to investigate the finances of any presidential candidate that might pay the GH¢420,000.
One of the aspirants, Ekow Spio-Garbrah, former Trade and Industry’s Minister, claimed to be “visually impaired’ recently perhaps in a desperate bid to pay the GH¢200,000 the NDC has set as filing fee for females and persons with disability who are aspiring to become presidential candidate of the party.
Mr Rawlings, in the statement signed by Kobina Andoh Amoakwa, the Director of Communications, warned that “certain action or decisions could either be a reflection of the circumstances of the NDC’s birth or “mark a departure from where we are coming from as a party.”
Selling NDC To Highest Bidder
The NDC founder observed that with the aspirants having barely two weeks to raise the huge amount of money, a perception may be created that the party is being handed over to the highest bidder.
He accordingly admonished the newly-elected executives to work assiduously to restore the integrity of the party even as they prepare for the uphill task ahead.
GH¢420,000 Is Fine!
But Mr. Asiedu Nketia reportedly told Mr. Rawlings that there was nothing wrong with the GH¢420,000 fee.
“The General Secretary of the party, John Asiedu Nketia, assured the founder that the amount set as filing fee was well intended. He mentioned that the filing fee was one of the viable options adopted to assist with the party’s fundraising efforts as it strives to address the financial challenges of an expanded and deepened democratic electoral process. He stated that the National Executive Committee had taken note of the concerns of the founder and would further explore other fundraising options,” the statement from Mr Rawlings’ Office said.
Mahama ‘Raises GH¢600,000’
Interestingly, Member of Parliament (MP) for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak, has reportedly indicated that about 96 MPs have raised GH¢600,000 for Mr. Mahama far in excess of the ‘killer’ fee.
BY Melvin Tarlue