Feature Article of Saturday, 4 February 2012
Columnist: Allotey-Okai, James
Over the years, the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has served the purpose for its establishment, but as it stands now all is not well. The long standing impasse that emanated from the then impeachment of NUGS President Anthony Abotsi and the newly elected president Hamza Suhuyini can be attributed to the present failure of NUGS. A follow up on Abotsi’s impeachment revealed that, this came about as a result of a no confidence vote that was passed on him at the last NUGS Executive meeting. He contested these claims and still held himself President. The other executives went ahead to elect Suhuyini to serve as new president of the union.
A year down the line, we still have a divided Students movement in Ghana taking its roots from the Abotsi and Suhuyini factions. The Abotsi faction organized a congress to elect Peter Kodjie as the new NUGS president, whilst the Suhuyini faction also organized another congress to elect Osman Ayariga as the new NUGS president. Therefore the GARGANTUAN question that lingers on the minds of the teeming Ghanaian students is who to pay their loyalty to.
This situation can be likened to the one that occurred not long ago in our neighbouring Cote D’Ivoire where there was a power struggle between the now ousted Laurent Gbagbo and the current president Alassane Outarra. Here there was an external influence that was against one party in favour of the other. .
Let us not forget that Ghana’s first president Dr. Kwame Nkrumah warned us to be careful about external influences and powers. He said “our enemy of progress is imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism”. In other to be self reliant and truly independent, he advocated for strong institutions in the form of industries and unity. This stance was corroborated when the first Black US President Barack Obama visited Ghana in the year 2009. He admonished us to build strong institutions and not strong men, so that when these men are no more, the institutions can as well function.
There is no doubt that NUGS today is experiencing this power struggle due to certain factors that chiefly include external influence or interference. This interference comes mainly from political parties. They try to get their candidate to the Presidency of NUGS in other for that person to do their bidding.
With this, NUGS has lost it credibility. It can no longer offer constructive and objective criticisms in areas that affect the Ghanaian students. Meanwhile these same students pay yearly dues to fund the activities of NUGS.
The conversion of the 4 years back to 3 years without the requisite textbooks, the raping of female students in their hostels, BECE students not gaining admission to Senior High Schools because of the fallen standards of education, late arrival of student loans are all but a few of the issues affecting the average Ghanaian student. These students require the NUGS to speak for them. After all, NUGS was formed to be the voice for the voiceless.
Instead of embarking on massive infrastructural development, both the previous and the current governments spend needless time debating trivial issues such as names and how long the senior high school programme should run. This therefore calls for a third party intervention. And this is where a vibrant Student Front comes in.
Gone are the days when NUGS could stand up against Governments just for them to do the right thing. Students have all over the world proven to be the strongest force that even dictators fear. In apartheid South Africa, when adult citizens were too subdued to rise up against the infamous discriminatory Bantu Educational System, it was students who rose up to the occasion. It is interesting to note however that, what later became known as the Soweto Uprising of 1976 started in a Junior High School and made a great impact in South Africa’s fight for freedom. But the same cannot be said about our NUGS of today. The two presidents have aligned themselves to the various political parties in other to serve their selfish and parochial interests.
Student’s movements also serve as avenues for grooming leaders, and Ghana’s Founder Dr. Kwame Nkrumah cut his political teeth in the West African Students Union where he once served as Vice-President. And when he entered the political arena in the Gold Coast, he was a credible force to reckon with. The current minister of communication, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu was once the President of NUGS. Also, a former minister of information, Hon. Dan Kweku Botwe served the Union as its National Secretary and several other prominent Ghanaians have also served the Union in various capacities. It was through this once vibrant student’s movement that shaped them into what they are today serving mother Ghana in the various capacities they find themselves in.
The same can however not be said of the National Union of Ghana Students today. NUGS has ceased to be the mouthpiece of Ghanaian students, thanks to greed, corruption and taking sides on national issues based on political expediency among its leadership. Anybody who has attended NUGS congress of late would testify that student politics in Ghana is now dirtier than the national one. NUGS has lost its voice and credibility and it is no wonder the Ghana Union of Polytechnic Students broke away from it and is unwilling to rejoin. The Union is seen as amateurish, unfocused, divided and without any disciplined leadership.
It is time for all well meaning Ghanaian students to muster courage to say 'Never Again' to those so called selfish leaders of NUGS. The time to act is now. They have to realize that they are not there to be served but to serve the various interests of the teeming Ghanaian Students. It must also be stated in clear terms to the various political parties that enough is enough. How long would NUGS sit down for its pace to be determined by these political parties?
Judging from the recent developments, a school of thought argues that the National Union of Ghana Students has outlived its usefulness and the best thing to do now is to dissolve it. For now NUGS officials ride on the backs of Ghanaians students to get their visas, sponsorship and scholarships while others make noise to be noticed by their political parties.
There is no doubt that, the NUGS of today have betrayed the trust the Ghanaian Student has in it. It is a pale shadow of its former self. NUGS no longer stands for the interest of Ghanaian students and must therefore as a matter of urgency be dissolved so that they do not add to the already muddied waters of National Politics.
LONG LIVE STUDENT’S ACTIVISM.
LONG LIVE THE GHANAIAN STUDENT.
LONG LIVE GHANA.