Ideally “competence” should be the most important quality that voters should consider when electing a leader. But the world is ruled by realism, not idealism. So even though a few students of the premier university, University of Ghana, will make their choice of student leaders based on competence, the majority will likely vote on ‘extra-competence’ reasons.
Here are seven of them:
1. Ethnicity: the origin of the candidates will count a great deal. No candidate will be able to pretend that they are Ghanaian and so should be seen as such. Voters will dig out their ‘tribes’ and vote on such allegiances. It still sounds fashionable and fulfilling to say: ‘the SRC president is my COUNTRY MAN’. In such a statement, the speaker sees themselves as close to power tribally.
2. Religion and religious denominations.
The faith of candidates will be the most important consideration for many voters. Christians and Muslims wouldn’t like ‘heathens’ to lead them and vice versa. Muslims are more predisposed to vote for their Muslim brethren, Christians for their brothers and sisters in Christ. Within the Christian community, denomination will count…
-“Oh I know her oooh”
-You know her?
-Yes, she is in my church.
“She is in my church” shows the especial relationship that exists between the voter and the leader. Religion will definitely be a defining factor.
Physical appearance will matter a lot.
This may not be a beauty pageant, but beauty attracts. And it will definitely attract votes for candidates who have it.
Being good-looking, having good sartorial elegance, ‘getting your swag on’ will be the bases for which some students will vote. Let’s not forget height. It is so so crucial. Shorter candidates are likely to be shunned by those who prefer their leaders tall. Yes! Six feet and above.
4. Senior High Schools. The Senior High Schools that candidates attended either attract or repel votes. More prestigious senior high schools tend to attract more votes than their lesser known colleagues. And candidates from such schools will not hesitate to remind you of their high schools. Like graduates of Ivy league universities, their graduands exhibit a sort of ‘divine right’ to rule. And they get to rule most of the time too.
5. Eloquence. While great speakers are generally little doers, they are more likely to be great winners.
The ability to ‘rattle’ good English is priced. Elocutionary prowess and a great deal of big words are valued. Never mind that you may not be able to walk the talk. Just talk. Talk forcefully, persuasively. And you’re on your way to victory.
6. Political affiliation.
Yes the NPP-NDC tussle plays out even in student elections. While candidates consistently deny their political affiliations, voters still manage to know, or at worst, guess and vote along such lines. It is also an open secret that political parties ‘support’ candidates who will be amenable to their ‘manipulations’.
An uncooperative candidate could be a veritable pain in the neck for ruling and opposition parties alike.
People want to be close to power. And so having an SRC president from your hall is advantageous. For instance, it gives you some entitlement to the ‘king’. After all, ” oh we were in the same hall! He was in G 26 and I was in E9. He knows me very well. ”
These are the seven factors that will override competence in the upcoming UG-SRC elections. All the candidates are of course competent but the election gives us the opportunity to choose the most competent. Would we? Can we?