Is Ghana’s democracy on sale?

Throughout the world, becoming a flag bearer and then moving on to become President of a country does not come cheap.

Beyond the key interest of competence, integrity and incorruptibility, becoming a President of any country is not a mere wish or lip service but requires hard work, demonstrable track record and experience. It also comes with a lot of preparation, sacrifice and mass mobilisation in both human and logistical resources.

But in Ghana, how come there is a growing interest by many people to become President?

Listen to our various radio stations, watch television and read the newspapers and you will not miss all manner of persons trumpeting their desire to be President of Ghana. Is Ghana’s democracy on sale at all?

What has changed?

The other day, it was 17 candidates all seeking without a blink to become the standard bearer for the New Patriotic Party (NPP). Today, it is 13 or so aspirants who have declared their intention to be the standard bearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) for the 2020 presidential election.

The point is, why has it become fashionable for so many persons to suddenly aspire to become President? What has changed to account for this trending fanfare?

Has it really become so cheap to lead a party and for that matter govern the affairs of state such that we no longer place value on competence, experience and track record?

Definitely not, and the earlier our political parties come up with generally accepted time-tested standards, the better for all of us as citizens and the nation Ghana at large.

Party financing

The hue and cry that has greeted the GH¢420,000 filing fee and nomination forms slapped on the presidential aspirants of the NDC has also brought to the fore the issue of party financing.

Since the filing fee announcement by the NDC last week Thursday, it has raised many thorny concerns to the extent that some presidential aspirants have sworn heaven and earth to stop what they call “the sale of NDC.” They are now threatening a boycott of picking the nomination forms to contest the presidential primary.

Whilst many of the aspirants of the NDC are unhappy about the party pegging its filing fee at a sum of GH¢420,000 and are demanding a rationalisation of the fee, other election watchers feel it is problematic if persons seeking to lead the NDC into the 2020 election and for that matter possibly rule the affairs of the state cannot mobilise and raise the GH¢420,000 filing fees.

One of the qualities of a flag bearer, in the view of some election watchers, is his or her ability to raise funds for the party and, therefore, it will be surprising to hear flag bearer aspirants complain about the exorbitant  nomination form and the filing fee which has been pegged at GH¢420,000.

But some of the aspirants and other social commentators disagree and argue that the NDC is not for sale to the highest bidder. They insist that to be a good fundraiser is not synonymous with being an effective leader.

Popularity vs competence

So clearly, whilst popularity doesn’t show competence and capability, in equal measure, to be an effective leader is also not synonymous with being a good fundraiser.

That is why there is need for a delicate mix or balance in the process leading to the election of a flag bearer so as to avoid the several instances where square pegs are put in round holes and people with little or no experience win simply because they are popular.


Back to the NDC filing fee debate which has raised a lot of concerns, what is the rationale for such a fine on the flag bearer aspirants?

Was it to meet logistical challenges and party financing? Is the GH¢420,000 fee for flag bearer aspirants a fair one or not? Does it seek to ensure equity or a punitive and deterrent measure to halt what some people describe as to weed out jokers from the race?

For any average Ghanaian, the filing fee is big by all standards and one may ask, is it really worth it for any aspirant to invest such an amount in the process of he or she being elected a flag bearer for the NDC?

This calls for self-examination by all the aspirants whether they are fit for purpose.

It is also a test case for the NDC. Is the NDC looking for a flag bearer, a fundraiser or popularity contest?

Stakeholder engagement

The NDC shot itself by recognising and permitting all presidential aspirants who notified the party of their intentions to go ahead and campaign across the country. It will, therefore, be prudent that natural justice dictates that they are consulted in crafting the document titled: “Guidelines for the conduct of the election of a presidential candidate of the NDC pursuant to Articles 40 and 42 of the constitution.”

Now the NDC is at the crossroads and it needs tact, maturity and openness to navigate through the challenges without tearing the party further apart.

Already, some of the aspirants have activated their core supporters to raise funds towards the filing fee. Whilst this is a good step, at this stage, the party needs and must take steps to encourage broad participation in the whole process.

Now that the time is near, aspirants, please don’t hide behind the filing fees to chicken out. This is the time to show your mettle, mass appeal and resourcefulness.

This is the time for the aspirants to show the stuff they are made off.


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