When Students Politics Marries National Partisan Politics, Political Infiltration Is Birthed.
Ghana as a country is blessed with several students political unions otherwise called associations, many of which have their roots from the revolutionary spirit of yesterday’s students. Students whose umbilical cord were tied and tight to championing a worth and common course of welfare of especially the Ghanaian student. More exceedingly, their fight could transcend beyond the borders of the indigenous Ghana to nations where students nearly suffocated to death in terms of better students welfare services rendered by the nation’s government to her students. For instance, we can mention of the formation of such unions as West African Students Union (WASU), All African Students Union (AASU), etc.
History accounts that, the West African Students Union (W.A.S.U) was formed in Cars in London in 1925 by some students from West Africa. Lest we forget to mention that, Ladipo Solanke, a student from Nigeria, who was greatly inspired by the Ghanaian intellectual Caesly Hayford championed the organization of the union. Ladipo’s W.A.S.U, composed of an exceedingly outstanding quality of students with high intellect, forming the core of both social and political activism in which Modern Militant Nationalism, especially in West Africa was born. Unequivocally, the social and political status quo of our societies were to be challenged and broken by some of these particularly outstanding student personalities such as Ladipo Solanke of Nigeria, J.B Danquah of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, David Carroll of Gambia, Nnamdi Azikiwe, and many others. Of course, one would not shy away from the failure(s) of such student unions. In as much as these unions achieved greatly to inspire today’s generation, it would also be worth we appreciated the failures thereof so as to make sound decisions for the good shaping of our students unions.
In Ghana for instance, there are several student unions we can mention. However, we may have to question their strength in terms of shaping social and political actions of governments and actors of the state especially of governmental institutions and political groups or persons. University Students Association of Ghana (USAG), Trainee Teachers Association of Ghana (TTAG), Ghana Union of Professional Students (GUPS), Private Universities Students’ Association of Ghana (PUSAG), Polytechnic Students Association of Ghana (POTAG; now Technical University), Graduate Students Association of Ghana (GRASAG), Students Representative Council (SRC) are all students unions/associations operating in Ghana.
Their mother union is the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) which has its local union operating in all tertiary institutions in Ghana. The question is then put of how focused and effective these unions have been in terms of their core mandate which supposes “championing the welfare of their members who are students”. These unions are supposed to in their true sense be advocacy groups for better educational policy standards in the country. Have this been fulfilled? Is there any hope?
As a matter of fact, these unions/associations have done little as far as their core mandate is concerned. Partisan Political infiltration is gradually redirecting the focus of these unions from colleague students welfare to partisan political gains. This is pathetically tragical. The infiltration of partisan politics arises from the fact that, though student unions, campaigning to hold a position in any of these unions costs a lot more than students politics should imaginably and reasonably cost.
Notwithstanding the unreasonable cost involved in bringing ones ambition to reality, these unions do not only need to survive but also need leaders to steer affairs for sustenance and maintenance. Acknowledging this, the student must necessarily run to seek assistance from a political godfather.
This is then the beginning of the infiltration into our students politics especially by these political godfathers. These aspiring student leaders would have to in most cases become robotic as regards receiving, adhering to and executing commands from their financiers otherwise known as political godfathers. Even in office as student leaders, they would have to live according to the dictates of the political party godfathers other than of the welfare of the students in whose mandate he/she serves as leader. Political infiltration though an evil to the growth of our students unions, may not to be entirely evil. We can still agree to some extent that, political infiltration is a necessary evil in students politics.
Reminiscing history, one would yet acknowledge that, for instance, one of the major acts that led to the failure of WASU was its hasty demand for “self determination”, noting that the union was made of incapable and irresponsible students whose irresponsibility and incapability could be seen in terms of finance and administration. Fast forward today, in our schools, especially of the tertiary institutions where much focus is placed as far as our students unions are concerned, a greater number of students are very much irresponsible and incapable of handling their own affairs.
These are the very people who for the sake of parochial interest are hailed by fellow students to lead our unions. This in itself calls for regulation to be done by our various partisan political parties and their representatives. Let us not forget moreover that, their financial and administrative skills are very young if they are to really lead a march of greatness in our students front.
In time past, these students unions served as a thorough and solid training ground for future leaders of their nations especially citing the West African examples. From a historical viewpoint, J.W De Graft Johnson, J.B Danquah, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ladipo Solanke, Nnamdi Azikiwe, P.L Lumumba, Balewa, etc were all active members or leaders of students unions in their respective countries. They were inspired by godfathers just as in the earlier cited example of Solanke learning from Ghana’s Caesly Hayford to then organize the WASU. For the infiltration of such godfathers as seen today in our students unions, we are not fully taught by history to know. Albeit, we can state without contradiction of history that, for the directions of these godfathers, we cannot be so sure the aforementioned leaders would possibly think of any such unions. It is same today. We cannot overthrow the argument of necessarily needing the directions of these godfathers to shape and reshape our skills of administration of these unions for a better future.
All said and done, either edges of the sword called political infiltration into students politics is sharp enough to shape and reshape the argument, making it straight. One edge supposes that political infiltration into our students politics is evil, totally bringing no good to our students unions. Another edge reshapes it to justify the positive aspects of this infiltration, calling it a necessary evil. The argument is thus opened for future treatment which of course may always stem from ones interest and affiliation. In concluding finally, I would however agree that “Political infiltration is a necessary evil in students politics”. Let us not lose sight that, political infiltration of students politics is only but a phrase which defines the end product of students politics coming into active marital contact with partisan party politics.
(NUGS Press & Information Secretary Hopeful, 18/19)
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