Flag bearer aspirants of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) will begin to file their nomination forms at the headquarters of the party today Monday along with the payment of a non-refundable fee of GHȼ300,000. Per the guidelines of the party, the aspirants will have today and tomorrow to file their nominations. Eight persons have picked up nomination forms to contest the flag bearer slot of the party. They are former President John Dramani Mahama, Alban Bagbin, Ekwow Spio Garbrah, Sylvester Mensah, Professor Joshua Alabi, Goosie Tanoh and Nurudeen Iddrisu. Already, two of the aspirants, Mr John Mahama and Professor Joshua Alabi, have served notice that they will be filing their nominations today. A statement from the campaign office of former President Mahama said he would file his nomination at midday today following which he would address a press conference at the Trade Fair Centre at La in Accra. Mr Richard Quashigah, the Spokesperson for Prof. Alabi, told the Daily Graphic last Friday that the Professor would file his nomination in person at about 11 a.m. today. he National Executive Committee (NEC) of the NDC had initially set a filing fee of GHȼ400,000 for males while that for women and Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) were pegged at GHȼ200,000 and GHȼ150,000 respectively. Also, nominations were supposed to be opened for two working days of December 3 and 4, 2018 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. while aspirants were expected to file their nominations between December 13 and 14, 2018. The date for the election of a flag bearer was also set for January 19, 2019 to take place in all the 275 constituency centres. However, the guidelines and nomination fees as announced by the General Secretary of the party, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, raised sharp reactions from some of the aspirants following which eight of them who described the fees as outrageous, petitioned the party’s Council of Elders and sought their intervention. The petitioners, who called on former President Jerry John Rawlings, the Chairman of the council, included Alban Bagbin, Ekwow Spio Garbrah, Sylvester Mensah, Goosie Tanoh, Alhaji Nurudeen Iddrisu, Stephen Atubiga, and Elikplim Agbemava. Specific issues According to the petitioners, specific issues they had with the guidelines were that the NEC did not meet the procedural requirements set out in Article 42 (1) (f) of the NDC constitution for publishing electoral guidelines. The NEC, they said, had generally not met standards of stakeholder consultations acceptable in a social democratic party. They also averred that NEC, in publishing the guidelines, exceeded its authority, to wit, imposed eligibility criteria not provided for in the party’s constitution. “These make the guidelines ultra vires to the NDC party constitution and thus null and void,” the petitioners stated. They stated that NEC’s proposed guidelines imposed filing fees on aspirants “that are unreasonable and that call into question our basic commitment as social democrats”. They also said the guidelines did not provide adequate assurance of a level-playing field for the primary in the context of openly displayed bias on the part of some members of NEC. The petitioners also objected to NEC’s proposal that the entire electoral process be completed within 45 days from December 5, 2018 to January 19, 2019. Intervention However, following the intervention of the Council of Elders of the party, the Functional Executive Committee (FEC) extended the timeline for the picking of nomination forms to Saturday, December 8, 2018. The FEC also changed the date for the filing of nominations to December 17 to 18, 2018, while vetting of aspirants was announced to take place on December 21 and 22. Similarly, it was announced that balloting and appeals will take place from December 22 to 24, 2018. Consequently, the new date for the primary was changed to Saturday, January 26, 2019. However, on Saturday, December 8, 2018, six out of the eight flag bearer aspirants who picked nomination forms to contest the primary of the party again petitioned the party's Council of Elders to further reduce the filing fee from GH¢300,000 to GH¢150,000. The six flag bearer aspirants, who had constituted what they call “Forum of NDC Presidential Aspirants” were Alban Bagbin, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Sylvester Mensah, Goosie Tanoh, Alhaji Nurudeen Iddrisu and Joshua Alabi. Two other aspirants who have already picked up nomination forms but were not part of the petitioners are former President John Dramani Mahama and Mr Stephen Atubiga. Among other reliefs, they recommend that NEC considered reducing the filing fees down to GH¢150,000 in consonance with the GH¢50,000 and GH¢100,000 in 2012 and 2016 respectively.” According to the six petitioners, it was extremely important that NDC’s filing fees reflected the party’s grassroots social democratic orientation. “We also appreciate the party’s difficult financial situation as explained by the General Secretary at our meeting,” the petitioners stated. However, in proffering a solution, they said they would be more than happy to mobilise funds for the party, stressing that each of them would make a minimum pledge of GH¢50,000 to be redeemed before the primary takes place. Deadline for filing of nominations On the programme for the primary, they said it would be unfair on voters and the candidates not to allow the time required for the requisite interactions that would enable the electorate make informed choices. In view of that they suggested that the deadline for filing of nominations be extended to the end of December, 2018 and that polling day should be scheduled for the last week of February to allow time for a possible run-off in March, in line with party practice which had been to allow 60 to 90 days between submission of nominations and polling.