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Opinions of Sunday, 18 September 2016

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Why make a bonfire of GHc 50 million, buddy?

By George Sydney Abugri

There is this puzzling feature of our electoral politics which my poor head finds a really hard nut to crack, Jomo: In every election, there are always those aspiring presidential candi¬dates who must know full well they do not stand a mis¬erable dog's chance of ever becoming president of this country any more than a cyclist can ride a bike to the moon, but who nonetheless expend ample cash, time, energy and other resources on their pointless enterprise.

This time round, Electoral Commission chairperson, Mrs Charlotte Osei, appears to have found a way of keeping them out of the serious game: It has raised the great hackles all around, but she has fixed the filing fee for presidential candidates at GHc 50 million cedis. Now that is what I call some real dough, Jomo!

I wonder why they do it. Why would anyone with his skull properly screwed onto his neck, liberally spend the colossal amounts of money that go into filing fees and pre-pri¬maries campaigning, knowing full well that such an exercise would be no different from mak¬ing a mini bonfire of the cash'?

We might straight away dismiss the suggestion that it is all for fun. Even dollar billionaires know that fun comes far much cheaper!

Another suggestion: It is an emerging enterprise with potentially good dividends: Invest in the formation of a political party, get the media to hype up its entry into the country’s electoral politics and then SELL it! Sell what? Sell the political party or rather whatever votes its members real or imaginary, represent!

It has been suggested that some of the money such candidates throw around during elections comes from people abroad, who have lots of money to throwaway and who fancy the idea of helping to install a head of state in a devel¬oping country. With a friendly developing world leader eager to show appreciation for dona¬tions of campaign cash, oppor¬tunities would open up for busi-ness, political and a host of other connections!

There is another suggestion to the effect that the ambition of such presidential hopefuls is actually often a much more modest one than they are will¬ing to let on: Their real objec¬tive, it has been suggested, is to have it inscribed in historical records that they were once presidential candidates! Ahh, here comes Tom Okito, the former presidential candidate for the Ananseman United Congress.

The title of former presiden¬tial candidate opens doors for privileges and material gain at home and abroad. It is less risky trusting a former presidential candidate when it comes to doing both international and local business, see?

Yet another opinion is this one: Some comical characters who have served even in low profile posi¬tions in a political administra¬tion, try to run for president in order to spite the outgoing pres¬ident who was their boss.

The outgoing president may have done something that gave the ego of the aspiring candi¬date a bad bruising. So it is as if he were saying, "Hey, running for president is no big deal, nor is the possibility of winning, since it is really the party the people will vote for in the Presidential election."

Unless they are inclined to play children’s games adults choose to play, the not-so-serious contenders in Election 2016 certainly know that paying Mrs Osei’s filing fee of GHC 50 million cedis is pointless, financial suicide.

Discounting President John Mahama and NPP presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, every other candidates knows that filing to run actually means making a small bonfire of the GHc 50 million, to light up the night on December 7, an absolutely very crazy thing to do.

Let us come to the presidential candidates who are usually in real contention: What is in it for them?

The answer probably lies in an understanding of the phenomenon known as “anticipatory declaration” by public officials when they come into political office and are asked to declare their assets.

Here is the typical scenario in anticipatory declaration of assets: Mr K.K. Kojo is elected to high public office. A glint immediately appears in his eye in anticipation of the pickings that will come his way. He is told to declare his assets:

He has a brick house, three goats and a backyard garden, but he declares four houses, three plots of land, two articulated trucks, four cars and two buses. He does this because he has set himself the ambitious goal of acquiring these through abuse of public office for personal profit. That it is suspected, is why politicians are prepared to squander so much money to come to power!