After four full years on a university campus, there have been countless experiences and learning curves. Some of these curves were difficult to negotiate but hey here we are. I usually don’t go out of my way to address some of the important issues we face on campus but in this case a constructive and well-informed discussion can be held.
The politics within our country cuts across all sectors and has its damning effects. Eventually, it was bound to reach our tertiary institutions and when it did, the landscape of student leadership changed. The term student leadership has lost weight in the eyes of many, with “student politics” becoming the preferred term used. It is definitely more “politics” than “leadership” in our current dispensation.
Politics in our educational institutions has made it increasingly difficult for leadership to take place. Elections are held for various positions and are unofficially contested on a “partisan” basis. The proverbial “kingmakers” we find on the national scene are now present in our universities. In all honesty, these kingmakers are not crowning actual leaders but the people they know will do their political bidding. It’s an unfortunate fact that will be vehemently denied by them but the populace knows this and can’t run away from it forever.
The interference of campus political “bigwigs” in student leadership elections has gradually changed the landscape. Aspirants for positions particularly in the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), are “unofficially mandated” to have an affiliation to one side of the political divide or other. The lack of political backing can cost an individual an election.
While I have no problem with being clear about one’s political inclination (I have openly been clear about mine), I have a problem with the occurrences after the election is won. Power is known to have a telling effect on the actions of elected individuals. In this case, these “elected officials” become the yes men of the kingmakers, carrying out their agenda and their bidding without personally considering the effect it has on the people they’re expected to represent-( the populace). The classic tactic used is pretending to work towards improving the welfare of the populace and using that “push” to do the bidding of the kingmakers. The kingmakers thus do everything possible to protect their “men” by putting safeguards in place in case an issue arises. One particular safeguard that has been used to “great” effect is known as “Sacrificing a LAMB for the GREATER GOOD.” This practice has solved controversial issues over time, with others getting away with wrongdoing.
The existence of kingmakers and the irrepressible power they possess is fueled by MENTORSHIP. The students in lower levels with aspirations of being student leaders are caught by the”elected” in some cases and prepared for a future takeover under the tutelage of the elected and their kingmakers. This creates a succession of sorts that keeps control of the office in the hands of the kingmakers. The current crop of leaders have a succession line in play and they have put measures in place to ensure that the power of the kingmakers does not end with them. Elections are rigged to ensure smooth succession in many cases.
In the last months of my stay on campus, there were countless irregularities that were known to the populace but not addressed. The “kingmakers” ensured that dirty elections were held in order to favour their selfish ambitions.
Allegations of misappropriation of funds by the SRC have continued ringing in the last three years without a clear resolution available to all. The highest decision body of the SRC (the GENERAL ASSEMBLY) is either a rubber stamp or a body that is not regarded by those in “POWER” as capable of bringing them to book. Sadly they will find ways to misappropriate funds in ways that even the DEVIL hasn’t thought of.
Posterity they say will judge each and every one. I wholly subscribe to that school of thought and when the tables flip we shall all see the downfall of the WICKED.
When people who are willing and ready to serve are wrongfully prevented from contesting or have the verdict stolen from them, it casts a cloud of darkness on the future of student leadership. Case in point the recent events that unfolded after the UPSA GRASAG elections. Whatever justification that comes from the quarters should be given the greatest contempt it deserves because the events that led to the decision were all orchestrated to prevent an able leader from serving.
Kingmakers are destroying student leadership with their rather unfortunate gimmicks. The only way is to break their strangle hold on student politics to allow those who are willing and competent enough to serve while finding a way to take away the power of the kingmakers in the process.