By Maxwell Ofori .
The announcement by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that each presidential hopeful should pay a whopping GH¢400, 000 as filing fee for the impending presidential primary seems to be blowing the party apart. All the presidential hopefuls, with the exception of former President Mahama, have kicked against the colossal amount being imposed on them.
The Chronicle has gathered from credible sources that the presidential aspirants met in Accra on Friday, and deliberated on the amount they are being asked to pay. The outcome of the meeting has not been made public as at the time of going to press, but there are strong indications that they would petition the party to review the figure.
But, before the petition reaches his office, the National Chairman of the party, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, indicated in an interview on Pan African TV that the party was not expecting the individual presidential aspirants to pay the money from their pockets. To him, anyone seeking to lead the party must be resourceful, and that his outfit was expecting the aspirants mobilise their followers to pay the money.
According to the NDC National Chairman, as at the time he was contesting the national chairmanship position, he was not having more than GH¢8,000 in his bank accounts, but those who believe in his vision came and supported his campaign. This, he said, is what he expects the presidential aspirants to also do.
The National Communications Officer, Sammy Gyamfi, has, however, revealed that NEC has not decided to reduce the amount. Checks by this paper revealed that some of the aspirants, including Prof Joshua Alabi and former President Mahama, have begun moves to solicit funds to cover the cost.
Whereas some spare parts dealers have offered to contribute to pay the money for Mahama, Prof Albi has also created an online platform, where people can contribute some amount to support him.
At a news conference last Thursday to announce the roadmap for the presidential primary, the General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, noted that persons with disability and female aspirants would not pay the GH¢420,000.
Persons with disabilities and female aspirants would only pay GH¢150,000 and GH¢200,000 respectively, as filing fees.
Reacting to the fees, Mr Ekwow Spio-Gabrah told the Daily Graphic that many people are disabled in one way or the other per the Disability Act.
“Speaking for myself, I am visually impaired and totally fall into that category,” he told the paper.
The Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, believes the amount could create an avenue for corruption.
In his view, the aspirants could work to raise that amount, but their financiers could use same as a means to dissipate public funds in future.
“Any of us could try to mobilise that money because, definitely, you can get in touch with people who have money to pay off, but I can tell you that is a wrong thing to do. That is the beginning of corruption – that is just giving evidence to what people have been saying – ‘create, loot and share’. I am not going to be part of that, I can assure you,” Class FM quoted Mr Bagbin.
Another flagbearer hopeful, Stephen Atubiga, has said that the Economic and Organised Crime Office should arrest any of his colleagues who would be able to pay that amount.
“Any politician who will claim that he paid the amount of money must be arrested. EOCO must arrest that politician. Where did that person get that amount of money?” Atubiga told Accra FM.
Meanwhile, some political analysts have said that the amount would weed out all those who are not serious, but some opposition parties believe it is a calculated attempt to sell the flagbearer slot to the highest bidder.
The NDC has set January 19, 2018 to vote to elect a presidential candidate ahead of the 2020 presidential elections.