Student leadership or Student politics; The bitter truth

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Politics and life are not bipartite concepts. They are so inextricable inter-twined that in the helm of life lies politics. It must be well noted that politics emerged as soon as society emerges where people come together to make rules and decisions to guide themselves.

I agreed with Aristotle on this that, man is a political animal and every man plays politics so far as we live in societies. He said anyone who is apolitical is either a beast or a god. For the purpose of this article, let me briefly explain what politics is.

Politics entails the an authoritative allocation of values, appropriation, disbursement and distribution of resources, raising of funds and development.

Politics is about different kinds of government whether democracy, monarchy, anarchy, oligarchy, phitocracy, theocracy, aristocracy or other forms of dictatorship.

Democracy for instance, embraces participation, expression of opinions, addressing diverse issues of concern, voting, and civic education and other entrenched rights of citizens to achieve mutual goals.

There is no denying the intriguing fact that student leaderships and politicking played a major role in the liberation of our country from the manacles of colonialism.

Despite all these, naivety, apathy, betrayal, lack of awareness and enlightenment have rendered the efficiency of our student politics fallible and prone to many criticisms.

These criticisms overshadowed the relevance of student politics. The perception of people toward student politics nowadays is so disastrous that, many view student politics as mere jingoism, friction, and exploitation of the student populace. In the Rotarians communities, they refer to politics as “Politrick” (playing tricks on people).

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This perception has convinced enough people that student politics is not something to accept as part of our national politicking. 
Like national leaders such as Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), Nnamdi Azikiwe (Nigeria), Julius Nyerere (Tanzania), Patrice Lumumba (Zaire), Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya), and Abdul Nasser (Egypt), many students such as the late Mekki Abass of university of Ghana have shed their blood, sweat, tears and sacrificed their lives for the student movement.

It took some students of old to cook what is the biggest best organized student body in the history of Ghana– the National Union of Ghana Student (NUGS) founded in 1965.

NUGS is credited with the creation of National Service Scheme since it was the union that advocated for its establishment. NUGS is no doubt a great institution.

However, its reputation has been soiled by petty squabbles in recent times between national executives, where in 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 academic years for example, NUGS had two persons both addressing themselves as presidents of the union without any sense of ignominy.

A contributing factor to the above issue is the irrefutable fact that the union is been controlled by the invisible hands of the dominant political parties in Ghana- the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Party (NDC).

Sad to note that these two parties see their political fortunes and survival in the nation’s geopolitical terrain as tied to the apron string of NUGS and have sparred nothing in their attempt to divide the union, not to talk of the Government-sponsored impeachments of NUGS presidents in 2005 and 2010.

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Believe me, no sacrifice can be considered too great when it is a question of carrying through the purpose of the student movement.

It is inexcusable to see student leaders of today, conducting themselves in ways that dash the confidence of the Ghanaian people in the student leaderships across the country.

By their actions, student leaderships such as Student Representative Council (SRCs), National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), Trainee Teachers’ Association of Ghana (TTAG) and University Students Association of Ghana (USAG) across the country have been halted and the rights of students are constantly being trampled upon by those who are supposed to know better.

Modeling a more responsible and responsive student leadership, the ultimate objective of our student leaderships are to pursue and champion the general interest of all students. Student leaderships must among others advocate for the following:

1. Prevail on Governments and Heads of institutions to do their best to create a congenial atmosphere for students to excel academically. Call for reforms in our curricula to be sync with the dictates of the 21st century labor market.

2. Give policy guidelines to national government by insuring that, quality education is made available and accessible not only to the rich but also to the poor and the impoverished. Student leadership must insist on changing our educational policy from quantity to quality to safeguard against poverty.

3. Must fight poverty and mass illiteracy together with government with student leaderships leading the way. Examples are seen, where a group of students led by a former SRC president of University of Ghana, Agbana Eric Edem, formed a network called Volunteers Ghana, and the Volta Region Students Association (VORSA) and countless of other student initiatives which I cannot mention here, seek to offer Voluntary Teaching Services and Community Impact Projects to deprived communities within Ghana to alleviate the suffering of the Ghanaian children in these deprived communities, where we share our expertise, knowledge and life experiences for the younger generation to learn from. This spirit of voluntarism is what we need as a country to progress forward.

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4. Must desist from opposing policies of governments and university authorities without providing a workable alternatives which must be based on thorough research and consultation of appropriate authorities.

Finally, student leaderships need to lead the crusade to sanitize our national political discourse as is done elsewhere in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and the USA.

Leaderships have to maintain decorum in their affairs and bring sanity to our body politics as the various blocs seeks to elect new executives in the-not-too-distance-future. Let add to our faith a conscience quick to feel, hope and to hope and good leadership conscience.

There is a call on us to leave a legacy that inspire the future generations and generations yet unborn.

WRITTEN BY:BANINI PHILIP KWASI (A Concerned citizen of Ghana)

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