Feature Article of Sunday, 19 July 2009
Columnist: Ibrahim, Faisal
Students Activism/Movement has brought invaluable socio-economic and political development in many countries including Ghana. In Ghana, student groups have challenged governments to charter paths that will inure to the benefit of the masses. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President was at one point the President of Africa Students Union in the United States of America which contributed to the emancipation of the African Continent.
The main objective of students’ movements has always been to pursue a cause that will enhance the educational lives of students in the country. However, there have been unfortunate times in students’ movements when student leaders have been incarcerated, manipulated or maltreated by the authoritative powers.
Student groups like the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), Ghana National Union of Polytechnic Students (GNUPS), Ghana Union of Professional Students (GUPS), University Students Association of Ghana (USAG), Private University Students Association of Ghana (PUSAG), Teacher Training Association of Ghana (TTAG), Students Representative Council (SRC) etc have contributed in shaping the educational development of this country in one way or the other. These groups are formed with the aim of pursuing a common goal that will benefit its members and the country as a whole. GETFund and many other interventions are the initiatives of some of these student groups. These groups have also contributed immensely to the political development of our country by grooming very brilliant politicians. The roles played by students’ activists in the country are immeasurable and can not be ignored.
However, there has been a lingering danger in the students’ movement in the country for some time now. “MONICRACY” unfortunately has shown its ugly head in the students’ politics. For sometime now, students with leadership ambitions have had to resort to politicians and/or political parties for funding. Recently at the vetting of Mr. Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa as Deputy Minister of Information, the Hon. Member of Parliament for Manhyia alluded to meeting Mr. Ablakwa at the Castle when he was to contesting for the NUGS Presidency. They both played around the matter and left it like that. Students of this country would be interested in knowing the truth behind that matter, nevertheless, I am alluding to this example to give credence to the fact that student leaders sometimes resort to politicians for funding. Student leaders who source funding from politicians find it extremely difficult to criticize and protest when the need be. The reason is obvious and even at the expense of students of this country. It is speculated that some student leaders have had their press statements drafted or screened by politicians. Currently, it has become a norm for political parties to fund candidates for student leadership position both at the campus level and national level. This situation has led to the dormancy and inaction of the students’ front for sometime now. This situation has also led to the public losing confidence in the students’ movements.
I am informed of student leaders in some tertiary institutions who have been funded by some political parties. Politicians find it easy to use student leaders to pursue their agenda. A political party in power will flirt with student leaders to gag and influence the students’ front while a party in opposition will want to take advantage of student leaders to check the government. There are instances where student leaders have been flown out of this country for sight seeing when an important student’s event was taking place.
Very soon the National Union of Ghana Students, Ghana Union of Professional Students, University Students Association of Ghana and other national students’ front will be attending Congress. There are rumors that some candidates are being sponsored by some political parties to secure executive positions in the pending Congresses. These candidates are also being supported by the student leaders from some tertiary institutions who are said to be affiliated to the same “Family”. Many students I have spoken to are expecting an interesting and money making congress especially the NUGS Congress. Some say it will be time to get their pound of flesh from the taxes they have paid.
Students who attend congresses have also contributed immensely to this unfortunate situation. While some will demand meeting candidates at On The Run or Mr. Biggs, some will demand Cash, and others will also demand transport. Some students fail to ask candidates the relevant questions about how they will achieve what they promise. Candidates with CASH are mostly in the lead from Accra. I recall an instance at a NUGS Congress when a candidate had to pay for capitation (housing and feeding fee) for delegates for as many as 5 institutions. Ironically these delegates have charged this capitation (housing and feeding fee) to their SRC accounts. This situation has an unpleasant and terrible effect on education and students development in the country.
Student activism is a genuine platform with the aim of pursuing the agenda of good education and students’ development. It is clear that the student activism has become a platform for grooming future politicians however; the students’ interest must be served to its optimum first. Any other interest must not compromise the students’ interest. Buying of votes definitely is illegal and has no place even in national politics. Delegates and students for the upcoming congresses and elections must be wary of candidates who want to buy their votes. We must vote for individuals who have the competence and capability to enhance our educational lives.
Long Live Student Activism
Long Live Ghana
Former SRC President Zenith University College