GRASAG National Presidency Sold to the Highest Bidder
But for the timely intervention of discerning and enlightened GRASAG National Delegates, coupled with their appetite for qualified candidates who can man the affairs of the association, this year's presidency would have been thrown out to a money drunk student leader seeking to ascend the throne of GRASAG. This show of bravery, maturity and objectivity of delegates gives hope for the future as the old voodoo of money politics was broken at the University of Energy and Natural Resources in Sunyani during the 25th Graduate Students Association of Ghana's National Annual Delegates Congress 2019 (7th - 10th August)
Considering the caliber of GRASAG's membership who are usually MA, MSc, MPhil and PhD students, one would expect them to do things differently but it is worth mentioning that it is just a reinventing of SRC, NUGS and USAG wheels. A clear case of recycling of same leaders who migrated from the aforementioned Associations.
The three-day event which commenced on 8th and ended on 10th August 2019 only breathed life during the launch which was graced by the Dean of Graduate Studies (UPSA), Dr. JKM Mawutor, the Krontihene of Sunyani - Nana Bofotia Boamponsem and the Deputy Minister of Bono Region Mr. Siaka Stephens. The rest of the activities suffocated due to improper coordination and lack of effective information dissemination. From Congress (no quorum, Article 13(6) ), Senate (no quorum, Article 16(11)), Games (low patronage), to Dinner and Awards Night the least said the better. For instance, on the Award's night, delegates present bemoaned the awarding of cronies instead of deserving awardees.
ABUSE OF INCUMBENCY AND GROSS DISRESPECT
Iris Mensah Kwafoa, a paradox of her person and later part of her address to Congress on respect, the outgoing GRASAG President didn't disappoint as she was ever battle ready to disrespect and challenge anyone who crosses her path. She is on record to have verbally assaulted Mr. Ebo Eduah, the Local GRASAG President of Methodist University during accreditation of delegates. As an icing on cake, it was reported that due to her interest in some candidates vying for the portfolios of Gender Commission and Presidency, she had allegedly attempted but failed to influence some Vetting Committee Members who aren't her stooges to massage scores in favor of her interests after realizing how abysmal they performed. It didn't stop there, as she was alleged to have sanctioned the Electoral Commissioner not to publish the vetting results and organize manifesto readings, two prerequisite conditions before any election that's clearly violating Article 40(10) of GRASAG'S Constitution which stipulates that "vetting results shall be declared twenty-four(24) hours after vetting has taken place" in order to face-saved her candidates who can barely express themselves as well protect some who might have been disqualified outright from the race.
The election was slated for day three (3), 10th of August 2019. However, in the face of no apparent challenge or what so ever, the EC decided to open polls minutes after 3pm instead of 7am to 5pm. Meanwhile, incase of GRASAG, polls are supposed to close as soon as the last delegate votes. This had delegates stand under the scorching sun for several hours before commencement of voting. By 6:30pm, the polling centre became dark as there was not light at the centre. EC officials and delegates alike have to resort to phone lights until an agreement was reached among candidates and EC to have the centre moved to a venue that has lights. In a Rambo fashion around 7pm, ballot boxes and materials were transported to the marked venue in a police vehicle accompanied by candidate's agents and other concerned delegates who didn't want any foul play on the part of EC officials. In the process, one EC official (name withheld) entertained a hot slap after a confusion ensured between the ECs and supporters of candidates. That notwithstanding, precedings continued after 45minutes past 7 amidst arguments, confrontations, fights etc. Poll finally ended at 12am and the following individuals: Mr Samuel Sagoe (President Elect), Mr. Gilbert Frimpong Assuman (Secretary Elect), Mr. Suleman Yusif (Financial controller Elect), Miss Anita Opoku Tawuah (Gencom Elect) and Mr. Harrison Dormenyo Agbedanu (Organizing cordinator Elect) were elected as National Executives for 2019/2020. The biggest fallouts of the this year's election were delayed commencement, ineligibility of delegates (majority being Primary, JHS, SHS and Nurshing Students), No identification, denial of 30 accreditations to schools who purportedly were going to vote against the outgoing president's candidates etc.
Party - Student Politics Romance
Once again, there was heavy presence of both NPP and NDC bigwigs at this year's congress coupled with huge sums of money given to candidates to influence delegates to vote for them. The presidential portfolio was divided among three candidates: one for NDC and the remaining two for NPP. Along the line, one (the best candidate out of the two) of NPP was purportedly ditched due to his affiliation with a Member of Parliament with AAM as initials who is not in good terms with government lately. At the end, the NPP's candidate lost to NDS's as a result of split votes by the other NPP candidates and delegate's rejection of money as stimulant. The influence of Party politics at our student fronts is not ending any time soon such that as it stands now in Ghana, it is only the National Service Personnel Association of Ghana that doesn't experience active party influences during its elections.
There should be a review of 30 delegates voting rights to only elected Executives (outgoing and incoming)
There should be a form of identification (Student ID) other than delegate accreditation tags.
There should be a cut in the number of days for congress ( preferably 2days instead of 3days)
Activities during congress should suit the needs of Gradaute Students (Workshops, Seminars, corporate Nights etc)
Delegates should champion quality and capabilities of candidates, workable policies instead of institutional and party support in electing candidates who seek student offices.
Robert Atsu Okor