One of my favourite lawyers in Ghana, Ace Anan Ankomah, recently asked audience at a lecture whether Ghanaians are really programmed to fail in the fight against corruption.
Ace Ankomah’s rhetorical questioned – at the maiden edition of the Rev. Isidore Kuupole Bonabom Memorial lecture organized by the law Students Union of the University of Cape Coast – keeps reverberating through my small fisherman head.
Ever wondered or witnessed how SRC elections in the country’s tertiary institutions are organized? It is a fascinating tale of how society disregards competence and adores mediocrity concealed in monetary and material influence.
This phenomenon leads one to an irrefutable presumption: Ghanaians are only interested in making noise about corruption but fail to confront it when it grows at their back yard.
Well, I have witnessed quite a number of SRC elections in Ghana and currently witnessing one at the University of Cape Coast and I wish society stops pursuing the animal called corruption when these same students graduate into national political figures and toil with the nation’s purse.
Our elders say, a tree that will obviously grow to pluck the eye is identified early and uprooted and not cut from the stem lest it reorganizes itself and causes the havoc it intended to.
The events in these elections are just a replay of what transpires in our National politics. Money changing hands; would be student-leaders distributingbranded tee-shirts to more two thousand students, sponsoring entertainment programs, giving out cash to students in order to buy their votes, sponsoring birthday parties, sponsoring morning porridge breakfast to paying transport fares for students for the entire day.
These practices are a regular occurrence that plays out during SRC elections in the country.
I witnessed an SRC presidential aspirant dishing out one thousand, two thousand, three thousand and up to five thousand Ghana cedis to people in Halls of residences to share among themselves. An aspirant who quickly brings out five thousand Ghana cedis cash to a student group in a hall to fix a challenge they complained about – good move though but where do they get the money and where do you think they recoup such monies after the elections?
I recently engaged an SRC presidential aspirant at the University of Cape Coast. “Senior”, he addressed me. “I have done all that I need to do. They tell me that I am a good material for the SRC presidential position. They tell me, I have a great vision, a good message and articulate them well but without money, I will make a very little impact in the elections.”
Apart from these, there is what is called on UCC campus, ‘political gods’, gods made up of popular and energetic students who are believed to do all the dirty works and propaganda in the elections. An aspirant who desires their services is supposed to bring at least a goat and not less than two thousand Ghana cedis to convince them to do his or her bidding. Are these groups not akin to the muscled machomen seen in our national politics? Where do you think they emanated from?
One of the aspirants told me his budget for the SRC elections which he has secured funding for is Eighty thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢ 80,000). He revealed, “With this, all that I need to do is to spread the cash and they will vote for me. It works perfectly.”
Now, where do you think such a person will retrieve the monies after he’s won the elections? And do you think the inflation of contracts and the award of contracts to families, friends and other cronies who contributed to the elections will die anytime soon?
At UCC, a case is pending where the incumbent SRC president is being challenged by some students for inflating the costs of projects such as the construction of the bus terminal at the oldsite and the new site that cost over three hundred thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢300,000). Where do you think our past and present leaders came from? Were they not bred from the same tertiary institutions that failed to check them? Don’t we see how contracts are inflated in our country? Why do you think they inflate the prices of the contracts and misuse our monies thereafter?
And the influence of political parties in Ghana especially NPP and NDC in the politics of students seems to be extremely conspicuous. Sometimes, these degenerate into ‘madness and ugly scenes’ in the elections. I have been thinking and querying myself why these political parties keep supporting candidates and sponsoring them the way they do? Do we still have such calibre of SRC presidents that are able to influence policies of governments and directing students to put a government on it toes or otherwise?This practice may have worked in times past but I shudder to think that the students’ fronts in our country are bereft of such leaders that possess such charms and charisma to pursue such endeavours.
The difference between the students’ elections and the national elections is that the national elections require gargantuan monetary and material influence. Just cast your mind back to the fifty Ghana cedi notes (GH¢50) the politicians distribute in addition to other material things distributed to win votes. Do you think after they’ve won the elections, they wouldn’t use dubious means such as the inflation of contracts, the payments of questionable judgment debts, just to mention a few, to recoup their monies? If you understand this and have watched and enjoyed these without questioning these from the outset, why shout on top of your voices now?
Martin Luther King jnr correctly and profoundly remarked, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right”.
Source: Richard Kwadjo Nyarko /Joy News