Eight disgruntled flagbearer aspirants of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have raised issues concerning the January 19 date set by the party's national executives for the presidential primaries.
According to them, that date gives them 45 days to file papers and wrap up campaign, which they say is 'unreasonable and impracticable.'
The issues were contained in a petition to the party's Council of Elders, sent and signed by the disgruntled eight.
The petitioners -Alban Bagbin, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Sylvester Mensah, Stephen Atubiga, Nurudeen Iddrisu, Goosie Tanoh, Kojo Bonsu and Elikplim Agbemava- have also argued that the month of December is not conducive for political activities because of Christmas.
This has all been triggered by the party's decision to collect 420,000 cedis from each aspirant as nomination and filing fees. Deeming the 700% increase in the fee exorbitant, the eight want it reviewed to 100,000 cedis.
Otherwise, they will opt out of the race which they say is being managed to favour former President, John Mahama.
Their kick against the financial rules in the contest has been coming since it was announced by party General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia last week.
Christmas and referendum
But what appears to have been unanticipated in the media is the kicking against the January 19 date for the presidential primaries.
There is also a referendum set for December 27, 2018, where residents in six regions will decide for or against the creation of new regions.
This political event will also make it more difficult for the NDC aspirants to effectively campaign, they pointed out in the petition.
In addition to the disruptions of Christmas and referendum, they add one more week in the New Year for the full resumption of normal activities in Ghana.
Practically, they would have barely 10 days to campaign and also set up polling day operations in all the 275 constituencies, the petitioners have argued.
Even before that day, the aspirants have three days (3-5 December 2018) to collect the names of three proposers, five seconders, and 550 endorsers from all 275 constituencies.
Plus 10 days to raise the filing fees of GHS 420,000.
The displeased aspirants have also compared the primaries process to the recent process to elect nine national executives at the 9th National Delegates Congress held in Accra a couple of weeks ago.
In that campaign, the candidates had six weeks to file papers and campaign for their positions.
But the 45-day period starting from December 5, 2018, to January 19, 2019, “is less than half the period that Congress in its wisdom allowed for this process”
The aspirants described the process set out by the national executive committee as “indecent haste” and a “rushed procedure”, criticising the newly-elected leadership for failing to offer any explanation for the haste.
Elections are “not a matter of administrative convenience of the Party bureaucracy”, the eight aspirants said.
They have asked for a review of the process so that party members get ample time to “meet with, hear from and evaluate the different candidates” who want to lead the party in the 2020 general elections.
Below are excerpts from the petition:
IMPOSITION OF AN UNREASONABLE SCHEDULE
NEC proposes that the entire electoral process be completed within 45 days from 5 December to 19 January. We object to this as unreasonable.
- This is less than half the period that Congress in its wisdom allowed for this process just 2 weeks ago.
- Within this period NEC proposes that collection of nomination forms is done between 3 – 5 December. This is an unreasonably short period given that Party has only now commenced the formal process towards primaries and purported to provide eligibility criteria for candidates. It is now that Party members who have been considering a run for the Presidency can make a final determination of whether or not to stand. As anybody who has participated in these processes before knows, no individual makes this decision without considerable consultation with political advisors and personal stakeholders. It is not a decision that is finalized in one or two working days.
- NEC proposes that the Candidates secure 3 proposers, 5 seconders, and 550 endorsers from all 275 constituencies and raise the filing fees of GHS 420,000 within a period of 10 days. By contrast contestants for NEC elections at the recent Party Congress were given a period of 6 weeks for similar processes.
- By the end of the proposed endorsement period on 15 December the country will be shutting down for the Christmas and end-of-year festivities and reflections – a period in which campaigning is very difficult. Campaigning will be further complicated by the upcoming referenda on the creation of new regions. In practice political life will resume fully in early January 2019 leaving effectively only about 10 days to campaign and set up polling day operations (for which relevant information has not yet been provided).
NEC has offered no explanation for this indecent haste to conclude this process. We submit that there is no benefit to the Party in such a rushed procedure. Elections are a political process affecting millions of Party members. They are not a matter of administrative convenience of the Party bureaucracy. Party members around the country must be given adequate time to meet with, hear from and evaluate the different candidates and what they have to offer to Party and Nation before making a choice.