Throughout history people below authority have been confronted with one form of oppression,
deceit, inequality, poor quality of service to them in many ways. And students across the length
and breath of Ghana is no exception. To combat this injustice, student leaders in times past had
fought the system through various means. However, in recent past, the spirit of students activism
seem to be dwindling down. This writeup tries to look at some of the causative factors and the
need to rekindle the spirit of once a vociferous students front again.
So many cumulative forces seem to team up against the once vibrant movement in Ghana.
Principal among them is the influence of the political class. Various student groups like Students’
Representative Council (SRC), National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), Graduate Students
Association of Ghana (GRASAG) are now invariably or seemingly an extension of the two major
political parties in Ghana. There is always a fierce and sometimes blood battles between these
two groups to get people who are politically aligned to them to fill vacant positions in the student
fronts. The reason behind this clandestine journey is not remotely fetched. They want to get
these student leaders to perpetuate their parochial and self-centered political agenda to the
detriment of the general good of Ghanaian students. The era where student leaders could face
off oppression and intimidation from the ruling class is now non-existent. As a student of history
I doff my heart out to student leaders like Arthur Kenney, Stephen Asamoah Boateng among
others who risked their lives in fighting for the rights of students. I sober on students leadership
lately and ask myself, where and how will we get the likes of Honourable Haruna Idrissu, Elvis
Afriyi Ankrah, Annor Dompreh, Edward Bawah leading our students front again.
Added to the above mentioned cartel of the New Patriotic Party and National Democratic
Congress is the insatiable quest of university (both administration and management) to control
the students front at the various tertiary institutions. University is supposed to be a place where
faculties are trained, leaders groomed and above all people being able to question how things
are done devoid of unnecessary intimidations, restrictions among others. The above mentioned,
are sometimes sacrificed on the alter of expediency for people in authorities’ interest. Students
sometimes in their quest to ensure the students they represent enjoy basic facilities due them
end up in the bad books of management. Some student leaders end up being rusticated for years
without full recourse to lay down procedures in the various universities. Some student leaders
have their academic certificates withheld for years and sometimes have to battle it out or seek
redress at the law court before it is released to them. Students are intimidated with a common
phrase that’s “a university is an awarding institution”. In fact, within the university community,
this phrase is pregnant with a lot. In order for student leaders not to incur the wrath and
displeasure of administrators and managements they are left with no option than to succumb to
the whips and caprices of authorities in order for them to enjoy their academic and social liberties
on campus.
Last but not the least is the corrupt nature of our recent crop of student leaders. Nketiah, in his
book, “Beyond the Lecture Hall What University students do not hear at lectures”, describes
current crop of student leaders as being occupant of positions and not servers. He could not have
put it any better than this. Student leaders now, think of the benefits which is attached to being
leaders than the service that comes with it. They are only interested in dissipation of resources
all through frivolous programmes. Latter day leaders engage in cronyism, nepotism, ethnicity to
cover up their nefarious activities on the various campuses. These leaders live in posh apartment,
driving expensive cars and lead all sort of luxurious life right after school. The question is, where
do they get the money from? Your guess is as good as mine.
Now to answer the question of how to remedy the situation, I suggest Civil Society Organizations,
National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) should educate people on the need to have a
very formidable student leaders. Again, the universities should institute mechanisms which
prevents lectures from interfering in students politics. To ensure proper accountability from
leaders, school management should institute an independent audit board to audit procurements
and other programmes which the leaders undertake. Certificates of students who are found
couplable of embezzlements and other financial malfeasance should be withheld to serve as
deterrent to others.
Francis Assifuah
History Level 300(University of Education, Winneba)