With my head above the parapet, I will tell of the events as I saw it that day. I am not going to look over my shoulder at all after writing this piece.
It was another moment when students of the University for Development Studies, Wa Campus went to the polls to elect student leaders to steer the affairs of the Student Representative Council.
There were about eight aspirants for the SRC Presidency. This number raised brows among students as they begun to ask, “why this large number of people?”
There was underground campaign since a ban had been laid on campaigning for the 2013/2014 academic year. The contestants who were looking for other positions were equally working hard.
Lecture halls were not missed since it was one way to get to the student body. The doors of students in town as well as on campus never knew rest as the knocks of student politicians kept hitting them.
One by one they met you and told you what their names were and why they have come.
Okay, UDS, Wa Campu has the largest population among all the other campuses. There are rumours that Wa Campus and the other campuses are seeking to be autonomous from the main campus, Tamale. How true this is, I think it will be a matter that can be confirmed only on the grapevine.
I once had an argument with a student who was in a higher level than me about how UDS has its campuses spread across the three Northern Regions. These are Northern Region (Tamale and Nyankpala), Upper East (Navrongo) and Upper West (Wa).
He argued that the university would have been better if the school was situated in one campus. Let say, UDS has only one campus like how University of Cape Coast is found only in one region. I disagreed with him on the basis that, it would rather bring pressure on the facilities that are provided and the same problem that people had in the case of travelling from one far region to Accra only to be in University of Ghana would reoccur.
The spreading of the campuses across the length and breadth of the three Northern Region offers the opportunity of getting admission easily. I did not forget the fact that in a particular UDS had to reduce its intake because of pressure on the facilities in the school. It would have been worse if it was at one place.
Then the argument ended because boys had to move on to something else. Back to the election, the day begun with some showers and it was difficult to get students to come out and vote.
It is a difficult to get students to come out and vote because majority of them stay in town. Students take advantage of the day and ask contestants to hire trotro which will convey them to the polling station. Otherwise a candidate has to hire motor bikes to convey voters. It is funny, isn’t it?
In short there is apathy towards voting.
Why all these apathy? Over the years, student leadership on the Wa Campus has not been anything to write home about. As I witnessed all these I felt some nostalgia for the Ghana Institute of Journalism. At GIJ, though, voters are convinced to come out and vote no one has to hire any vehicle to convey students from town to the polling station.
Again, as I walked towards the polling station to vote, there was one thing I witnessed: polling agents dragging and convincing voters to vote for their candidate. I did not quite admire this behaviour. There was one student who told me that, over here that is how we do it. Then I asked him, if that was the right thing to do. His partners- in- ignorance told him not to give me the attention I was seeking.
There was also the issue of candidates pulling and begging voters to vote for them. It beat my imagination as I gaped at this show of “this is how we do it here”.
I then began questioning who the EC was and if he or she knew that this was going on as election was in progress.
Now this is where the game got rough. There were allegations and counter allegations of people supporting candidates on the basis of their tribes and sects. This is not good at all. It was below the belt. It does not in any way enhance the opportunity of choosing competent student leaders.
I remember that this card of tribalism was played at the Ghana Institute of Journalism. Naturally, every human being is quick to identify with people who they share some commonalities with- it could be language, tribe, school, region, sect and so on and so forth.
However, what this does is, it stifles progress in the choosing of competent leaders in our universities and other tertiary institutions.
There was also the issue of ballot stuffing. The police and the military were those who controlled the affairs on that day. There is something that is said in Ga “ey3 mu dzin”, to wit it was dirty.
The election went for a run-off and one Allswell Anum emerged SRC President for 2014/2015 Academic year. It was a keenly contested election which showed at the end of the day that, the masses are the custodians of power and they decide who should have it.
All said and done, to the new administration of Allswell Anum, power did not fall on your laps, it came by dint of total support to the hilt, commitment, hard work and sacrifice for your side. Bear in mind as we usher in the new academic year that, you are the President of the Students’ Representative Council, not Self Representative Council. Your concern should be our utmost welfare no matter what happens……………
Alex Blege, firstname.lastname@example.org/gudzetsekomla.blogspot.com