In the wake of the debate on the issue of the ¢500 million registration fee for New Patriotic Party Presidential aspirants proposed by Akenten Appiah-Menka, Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Council of Elders of the Party, the National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party has disclosed to The Statesman that the NPP is not at all likely to demand more than ¢100 million per head as filing fees.
He said the figure may even be less than the ¢100 million that each of the four aspirants of the National Democratic Congress was required to pay for their party's contest last year.
Mr Appiah-Menka"s argument is that the NPP needs resourceful presidential candidates and that the party could do with the money to help fund the December 2008 national campaign.
Disclosing the suggestion exclusively to The Statesman in September 2006, the industrialist, who is the CEO of the Appiah-Menka Soap Manufacturing Company in Kumasi, referred to the 1992 election when the presidential candidates paid ¢10 million that apparently helped to largely fund the election then.
"Now, we have 230 constituencies for the party to cater for in the 2008 election and considering the Party's weak financial position, I still believe that ¢500m would go a long way to help replenish our depleted treasury,” he stressed.
But, Peter Mac Manu is of a different opinion. Speaking to The Statesman Sunday in Koforidua, the NPP Chairman said the ¢500m fee tag would only send an unnecessarily wrong signal about the ruling party. “After all, the total amount raised from the nomination fee is not what we are going to be able to fund the 2008 general elections with.”
In proposing the ¢500m fee, Mr Appiah-Menka, however, stressed that the size of the proposed amount should not be misconstrued as aiming to offer the flagbearership to only the rich.
“Looking for resourceful presidential aspirants means credible candidates who have leadership qualities to steer the affairs of the nation,” he said, adding “it's not necessarily about money but persons who also have contacts locally and internationally to build the nation.”
Mr Appiah-Menka maintained that one of the qualities of good leadership is to be resourceful in all spheres of life, hence the need for “the NPP not to entertain presidential aspirants with the ambition to just add it to their CVs.”
“The Party's coffers are empty and we need funds to sustain its machinery. We therefore have to allow as many candidates as possible to contest the presidential slot,” he said, dismissing concerns about the growing number of aspiring presidential aspirants.
He, nevertheless, predicted then that only four of the hopefuls would eventually pick up nomination forms. “I admit that, at the end of the day, just a few of them can make it to the congress.
“I can vouch that not more than four aspirants can make it to the Party's congress”.
Mr Appiah-Menka was not happy about rumours that some of the aspirants “were maligning each other and sowing seeds of discontent among the membership,” countrywide.
Mr Appiah-Menkah also added his voice to calls for an early congress, which he said should be held not later than March 2007, so that the Party could adequately market its candidate for the 2008 elections.
But that wish has also not materialised, with the party only prepared to sit down and discuss the date and details of the presidential primary in April.
The smart money is on the congress coming on after August 2007. The consensus currently favours December, but The Statesman calculates that the party is likely to fix the date in September.