The New Patriotic Party (NPP) nominations for its December 22 delegates congress to elect a flagbearer for the 2008 general elections, closed yesterday, grabbing close to ¢5billion as filing fees from the aspirants in the last two months alone.
Eighteen of the nineteen people who picked forms and expressed interest in the race returned them by close of day yesterday, except John Kwame Kodua, who cited religious reasons.
The Kumasi-based lawyer and highly religious politician explained to DAILY GUIDE that soon after picking the forms, he went into days of prayers seeking divine direction but failed to get a green light from God.
He, however, insisted that his bowing out of the race had nothing to do with finance, saying that he had gathered enough money to run the race.
Having charged ¢250 million per head as filing fee and another ¢5million for nomination forms, the party had 19 responses, when nominations were opened on September 22, 2007.
The ruling party thus bagged ¢4.5billion from 18 registered aspirants and another ¢95 million for forms, thereby grossing ¢4.595 billion cash.
Those who have duly filed include Vice President Aliu Mahama; Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku, former Minister of NEPAD; Daniel Kwaku Botwe, former NPP General Secretary; Boakye Kyeremanteng Agyarko, former Vice President of Bank of New York; Yaw Osafo Maafo, former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning; Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Barfour Adjei-Barwuah, Ghana's Ambassador to Japan and Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, former Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Affairs.
The rest are Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor, former Minister of Defence; John Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, former Minister of Trade and Industry; Papa Owusu-Ankomah, former Minister of Education, Science and Sports; Dr Arthur Kobina Kennedy, a medical practitioner; Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, former Presidential Spokesman; Capt. Kwame Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey, former deputy Interior Minister; Prof Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, former CEO of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital; Felix Owusu-Adjapong, former Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs; Prof. Mike Oquaye, former Minister of Communications, and Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, former Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing.
When contacted on phone, Evangelist Kodua, the only odd one out, was quick to point out that he had already sent a letter to the Administrator of the ruling party, informing him of his intention to withdraw from the race.
Throwing more light on his decision not to contest the flagbearership race any longer, the Kumasi-based lawyer pointed out that contrary to speculations in town that he had no money, he would have filed if he had had the green light from God.
He said he had prayed with his elders over his intention to run, but when no clear response was coming, his team advised him to step aside.
Earlier on Tuesday, journalists who had trouped to party headquarters after having had a hint that the Kumasi-based lawyer was storming there to formalize his application, went home disappointed when they realized that Mr Kodua, after all, would not be coming.
One aspirant, who proved skeptics wrong when he successfully filed his nomination, was Capt. Effah-Dartey.
The Berekum MP last Friday stormed the party office with an impressive number of supporters and paid up to be the 18th aspirant in the race.
In an interview yesterday, the NPP General Secretary, Nana Ohene Ntow, confirmed that Kodua had officially backed out and notified the party.
He said even though the Kumasi lawyer did not explain why he would not run anymore, Kodua promised to help whoever wins the race.
Ohene Ntow hinted that Effah Dartey, the last to file, would be vetted on Tuesday, after which the Vetting Committee would turn in its report.
He told DAILY GUIDE that the vetting committee would eventually hand over the rest of the job to the election committee, which would then organize a ballot for the contestants for position on the ballot paper.
He would not name the members of the Election Committee.
Delegates will be selected between November 28 and December 8, after which a verified list will be presented to all aspirants, he said.
Meanwhile, the party has been meeting all aspirants regularly to iron out a few concerns raised.
Nana Ntow conceded that the party has challenges, observing that this could be as a result of the fact that it was the first time it had to pick a presidential candidate while in power.
He, however, promised a clean and efficient process leading to the congress.
“The stake is high, public and media interest is beyond bounds, and we cannot afford to fail,” he stated.
The General Secretary said the party has secured the venue for the congress at the forecourt of Great Hall at the University of Ghana, Legon, with adequate transportation arrangements.
Even though 18 people have paid the ¢250m filing fee, this does not rule out the possibility of alignments ahead of the congress.
It would be recalled that in 1992, Peter Ala Adjetey filed and paid all fees expected of him, but later withdrew from the race, after checking himself.
The December 22 Special Delegates' Congress is expected to gulp most of the ¢5billion realized.
This is because the last such event organized by the party, cost the organizers some ¢2.5billion.
A delegates' conference held at Koforidua in January, 2007 brought together five delegates from each constituency.
Ten delegates from each constituency and a significant number from the Diaspora are expected at the Legon Congress to pick a candidate towards the 2008 elections.
Observers initially took many of the people, who rushed to pick forms, as mere passengers who only wanted to dance to the tune of the times, but 60 days down the line, only one of them has failed to return his forms.
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) only managed to raise a paltry ¢400m for its congress last year. Party sources hinted DAILY GUIDE that the congress left an accrued debt of ¢600m for the party to clear later.
By Bennett Akuaku & Razak Mardorgyz