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04.12.2018 Feature Article

NDC primaries 01.19 a national concern

NDC primaries 01.19 a national concern
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The NDC executive committee announced two days ago that the NDC presidential candidacy elections has been postponed from December 2018 to 19 January 2019

Furthermore the committee announced a fee of GHC420,000 (USD84,000) - 20 grand for application forms plus 400 grand for filing; lesser fees for women and the disabled who are not currently in the race. See https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/NDC-pegs-filing-fees-at-GH-400-000-for-Flagbearer-hopefuls-704798lings

Since then there has been reactions from the various contestants or persons claiming to speak on their behalf - examples cited as follows:

- 'I won't be part of GHS420K opulence, extravagance' – says contestant Bagbin at https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/politics/I-won-t-be-part-of-GHS420K-opulence-extravagance-Bagbin-704940

- “I will file on Disability Act” - says contestant Spio, alluding to a visual impairment at https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/NDC-GHC400-000-filing-fee-Spio-Garbrah-to-file-on-Disability-Act-704850

- ‘NDC Presidential hopefuls to meet over 'absurd' filing fee’ – says contestant Atibuga at https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/NDC-Presidential-hopefuls-to-meet-over-absurd-filing-fee-704873

- “GHS420K Fee: we will write to the founder of the party to intervene” – says contestant Atibuga at https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/politics/GHS420K-Fee-Aspirants-run-to-Rawlings-704923

- “Alabi’s camp says the amount is outrageous” at https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/GHC420-000-Fee-Dazed-Alabi-begging-for-MoMo-cash-705151

- Planned demonstration in Accra, on an NDC Whatsapp forum by convener Mawuko Goza B on behalf of supporters of eight contestants.

It is my view that both NDC and the NPP Government need contain the fallout because it can engulf the nation

The NPP
It would be natural for the NPP to follow the wisdom of “De Wo Fie Asem” - literally “chop your house matter”, and revel in the NDC tearing each other apart. But unlike Ivory Coast with reference to which former President Mills used the axiom to stay out of their conflict, I believe in this case a “neighbors’ house on fire is potentially your house on fire” would be a more apt axiom. The NPP Government should assess the situation and generously assign security protection to the NDC contestants who request it. Furthermore the NPP must take measures to prevent foreign meddling.

The NDC
From the Mahama-dominated unity walks to the Mahama songs at the latest NDC congress to elect executives, there has been murmurings now reached a crescendo that the old and reelected proMahama executives have been doing the bidding of Mahama in his quest to represent NDC at the next elections. This could split the party and the prospect that the NDC would remain in the cooler for over a decade might spark intra NDC and national strife.

The NDC can alleviate its woes by attending to the sources of discontent

- Ensure that party executives do not use their party positions to favour one contestant over another. And MPs do not instruct constituency delegates how they should vote in the primaries

- Arrange for orderly access of contestants to all delegates, even if at the party’s expense, to enable the delegates to make informed decision on whom to vote for in the primaries

- Prohibition of “gifts” to delegates to be enforced by the party elders. If that is too hard, the party should prohibit photographic equipment, mobile phones etc. in the voting booth, apparently used at the recent NDC congress to show evidence to bribe givers that votes had been cast for them so as to ensure payment of rest of bribe

- A rapid response complaints handling system by party elders, with the powers of suspending executives facing credible complaints of using their party executive positions to favour or disadvantage a contestant as well as disqualifying contestants directly or indirectly giving bribes, would go a long way to assure contestants and delegates alike of a level playing field

FINALLY and very important
- Reduce the contesting fees from GHS420K to the 2014 fees adjusted for inflation. I am unconvinced that the burden of organizing the primaries should be borne by contestants in a social democratic party

Nii Armah Kweifio-Okai

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