The kind of democracy that was introduced to the Gold Coast by the colonial masters some two centuries ago must be taking a different dimension today.
When we first embraced it in the early 40s, Ghanaians were made to understand that it is the most representative form of governance on the surface of the earth, as it takes away the class system, including nepotism, theocracy, oligarchy, aristocracy, meritocracy, plutocracy, technocracy and general authoritarianism.
So great was the idea that, at independence, the framers of the Constitution agreed that it should only take a proof of nationality, 40-year age limit and sound mind for a person to be eligible to be president.
But sixty years after independence, the story seems to be changing. The people are being told now that, beyond being a sound-minded Ghanaian above forty years, a person vying for presidency MUST BE RICH.
Along the years, this creeping political trend was barely noticed (not even by political observers, social commentators and students of history) until a recent statement by the General Secretary of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr. Asiedu Nketiah, to the effect that the NDC (a social democratic party) is not the abode of the poor.
In his haste to defend the party’s latest guideline, asking NDC presidential aspirants to cough out a non-refundable GH¢420,000 for nomination and filing, Nketiah stressed that being rich and having the capacity to ‘raise’ money for campaigns is today the party’s new pre-requisite for members interested in becoming presidential candidates.
He failed to explain what he meant by “capacity to raise money”, but he did not rule out the fact that aspirants must be very resourceful (or millionaires). To him, at a time when the party is striving to deepen democracy, aspirants’ financial backgrounds should be seen as crucial since the party would need a lot of money to organize a presidential primary that will involve over 360,000 delegates.
THE PUBLISHER begs to differ with the line of argument put out by the NDC General Secretary.
In the view of the paper, the fact that the number of delegates has quadrupled does not necessarily mean that filing/nomination fees must also quadruple.
In real life, the price of a car with four tyres need not necessarily double simply because the same car has been redesigned into an eight-wheeler.
We do not believe that people must be denied access to ascending to the presidency on the basis of their wealth. If the cost of organizing party activities has to go up for unavoidable reasons, it behooves on the party leadership to come out with smarter and more INNOVATIVE ways of generating funds from other sources, instead of raising the financial bar for those who intend to contest.
It is through innovation that car manufacturers have massaged the rising costs of production, such that a five-seater salon car and an Urvan minibus both run on four tyres, yet the latter has the capacity to carry up to fifteen passengers. In this scenario, the cost of the Urvan minibus is not thrice that of the salon car.
If for nothing at all, the party can take a word or two from the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), which, when in opposition, resorted to the sale of scratch cards across the country as a means of raising millions of cedis to successfully run its 2016 presidential campaign.
We kick against this attempt by lazy politicians to redefine democratic participation in the in the name of rising cost.