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Opinions of Thursday, 27 August 2009

Columnist: Awuni, Manasseh Azure

Who Is The Next Nugs President?

By Manasseh Azure Awuni

NOTE: What prompted this piece is what I heard from someone who was not at the congress.“I have been told that the Congress could not produce the next NUGS President,” he said.

From the 43rd NUGS Congress in Kumasi, I had to head for Odumasi Krobo where this year’s Ga Presbytery Zone One camp meeting of the Junior Youth Fellowship of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana was ongoing. Though dead tired, I had to go because I was the chairman of the camp meeting planning committee. On my way, I missed death narrowly. The rickety taxi cab I boarded from the Krobo Odumasi station to Krobo Girls’ Senior High School, the venue for the camp, slammed into the police barrier just before the entrance to KROGISS campus. When I realised that the break was not going to do the speeding car any good, I closed my eyes involuntarily and the word “JESUS” parted my lips unrehearsed but gently, to my surprise. When I opened my eyes, taxi had stopped but the glass was broken beyond repairs. I was unhurt.

The engine coughed back to life and the old man drove on after knowing that I was unhurt; the police were absent. “I cannot work with this again,” he said shaking his head sadly. “If the devil dey follow you, ebi this wey go happen.” I was speechless for the rest of the journey. That happened at about 12:00 pm on Friday August 21, 2009, and it was one of events that started erasing the turbulent congress from my memory since other responsibilities sapped the vestige of energy left in me after the tiresome congress.

When the camp meeting ended on Sunday and members of the planning committee were busy putting things in place so we could also leave, I received a call from Opare Yirenkyi of the African Univeristy College of Communications. He was calling me in the capacity of a member of the NUGS Electoral Commission and wanted to get certain information from me as the chairman of the vetting committee at the just ended NUGS Congress. He wanted to know the institutions the various candidates who appeared before the vetting committee said they were coming from. I told him I was so busy and could not tell him the institution of each of the forty-one aspirants offhand, but Opare would not take that. Even when I when I suggested I speak to the secretary of the vetting committee, Anom-Boako Karen, before getting back to him, Opare knew what he wanted.

He said as for the rest of the candidates, the EC didn’t have much problems but they had problems with the presidency. He started with Francis Appea and I said to the best of my knowledge he was from UCC. Then he went on and on. Then when I repeated that if he wanted wanted an authentic list, he should let me see if I could get through to the secretary of vetting committee. But that was not until Opare had the last two candidates even if I forgot all the rest. “What about Abotsi…?”

“…what bout Wonder? Wonder Ma-di-lo?” he stammered. He pronounced the Madilo as if he had just landed from planet Mars and had never heard the pronunciation anywhere. He requested the number of the secretary of the vetting committee but I didn’t have it where I was and he said he would call back in ten minutes get. As to why he so badly needed that information, he said the EC had not declared the results and such information was necessary for their report, which should go with the declaration of the results. I called Saeed Abdul Faruk, the SRC President of UEW, a fellow member of the vetting Committee, to find out if he could give me the Secretary’s number and it was from him I heard that the electoral Commissioner had declared the results on GBC Radio.

When I called Opare and told him what Saeed told me, he said they (who? I did not know) were going to do something about it. I may not be a very intelligent fellow but have all my six senses intact and knew what Opare was driving at the moment he introduced the topic. My journalistic instinct tells me that it is one of those phone calls that are recorded illegally.What I later heard on the airwaves corroborated what I thought.

This is all that the NUGS Constitution says about the declaration of results:

Article 75. DECLARATION OF RESULTS:-

a) The Electoral Commissioner shall declare provisional electoral results within two (2) hours after the end of voting.

b) Notwithstanding the clause (a) supra, the electoral commissioner shall inform congress of the reasons for the delay.

The current argument is that the Electoral Commissioner should have declared the results before congress but after counting, there was no one left to constitute congress. Winners and losers had the information while counting was ongoing in the auditorium. Delegates had to starve after paying GH¢80 per delegated because congress had to be extended by a day and no provision was made for extra feeding. Some delegates, such as the University of Ghana, GIJ, etc left immediately after voting while those like IPS started boarding their buses just after the fate of the two main contenders in the presidential race was known. Others followed suit. Who was there to constitute congress?

What worsened the situation was the refusal of the EC to declare the results until the executive of NUGS met their demands. I personally contacted the Electoral Commissioner for the official results so I could file a report for my media house but she declined, saying until their demands were met, the EC would not declare the results. From what happened at congress, I can say that if some of the national officers knew that the outcome was not in their favour, they would do all within their means to withhold whatever demands the EC wanted in order to make a case out of it non-declaration of the results.

The interesting thing, however, is that whether the results were declared before congress or it was unconstitutionally done, the results were known before we all left Kumasi and as to whether the procedure will be able to alter the course of history, is this drama with a rather too complex plot that is beginning to unfold. We are waiting and watching. Patiently!

Who said we did not elect NUGS President?

Credit: Manasseh Azure Awuni [azureachebe2@yahoo.com]

The writer is the SRC President of the Ghana Institute of Journalism and Chairman of the Vetting Committee of the just ended 43rd Annual Delegates Congress of the National Union of Ghana Students held recently at the Kumasi Campus of the University of Education, Winneba.