The flagbearership race of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) yesterday officially started with the opening of nominations for aspirants at the party's headquarters in Accra.
The 12 aspirants have up to the end of business day today to pick the nomination forms at a fee pegged at GH¢ 20,000. Those who successfully picked their forms have two weeks to seek endorsement from party members nationwide and submit the forms together with a filing fee of GH¢ 400,000.
Females and persons with disability (PWD) interested in leading the party would however pay GHȼ200,000 and GHȼ150,000 respectively, according to the General Secretary of the party, Johnson Asiedu Nketia.
The agitation and controversy sparked by fees is yet to simmer down. Some aspirants have kicked against the fees which have gone up from GH¢50,000 in 2016 when the NDC was in government.
Despite a petition sent by some of the aspirants to the party's Council of Elders to intervene, former president John Mahama yesterday became the first aspirant to pick his form.
Deputy General Secretary, Mr Peter Boamah Otokunor confirmed to the Ghanaian Times that a delegation from the Asawase constituency picked the nomination form on behalf of the former president.
Leader of the delegation, a former Municipal Chief Executive of Asokore Mampong in the Ashanti Region, Alhaji Nurudeen Hamid told journalists that the gesture was a show of gratitude to the former president for spearheading development projects in the area.
The Ghanaian Times observed calmness at the headquarters with staff going about their routine activities.
On the contrary, the office of former President Mahama was swapped by his supporters who went there in person to contribute to his campaign in spite of mobile money numbers advertised for fund mobilisation.
The campaign teams of the various aspirants have likewise stepped up their social media campaign to raise funds to push them over the first hurdle of the race.
Meanwhile, former president Jerry John Rawlings has expressed concern about increase in the filing fees and has advised the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) to reconsider it.
Mr. Rawlings, who is the Founder and Chairman of the Council of Elders of the NDC, cautioned that certain actions or decisions could either be a reflection of the circumstances of the NDC's birth or "mark a departure from where we are coming from as a party".
Former president Rawlings made the call when the newly elected National Executive Committee of the party called on him at his Ridge office on Friday.
"I doubt if anyone of us who has served with integrity, relying on our salaries can raise these filing fees unless we engaged in some unethical behaviour while in office;
Unless we abused or misused our positions during our tenure," he said.
The former president said with the aspirants having barely two weeks to raise the high amount, a perception may be created that the party is being handed over to the highest bidder.
The party founder advised the National Executive Committee to review their decision and find alternatives to address the legitimate concern of raising funds to finance the presidential elections.
Former President Mahama is amongst 12 persons who have expressed interest in the position including former UPSA vice chancellor Professor Joshua Alabi and Second deputy Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin.
Also eyeing the slot are former National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) boss Sylvester Mensah, former Trade Minister Dr. Ekwow Spio Garbrah, a former Mayor of Kumasi, Kojo Bonsu
Other hopefuls are former Deputy Finance Minister, Kweku Ricketts-Hagan; a legal practitioner, Elikplim Agbemava; member of the party, Goosie Tandoh, Nurudeen Iddrisu, Stephen Atubiga and David Dotsey Kwami Kuwadah.