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Corruption Watch: The scary case of student politics, money and corruption

On Joy FM’s Corruption Watch programme on Wednesday, a discussion on student politics revealed the scary lengths students go to get elected into office.

These students are forced to spend outrageous sums of money to organise campaign-related activities in order to get the nod to lead in their various schools.

You would think that these things happen in tertiary institutions, but no, senior high schools are no different.

Increasingly, students interested in politics have to dole out large sums of money, and of course like the national elections, the highest bidder wins.

Checks by Corruption Watch indicate that aspiring candidates and student leaders incur huge costs when it comes to paying filing fees, financing transportation for campaign teams and even voters, preparing and packaging campaign materials and other related election expenses.

At the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) candidates are spending between GHS2,000 to GHS7,000 on elections.

On the University of Ghana campus, a minimum of GHS12,000 was at least spent in the last elections and even that is by the least qualified and less likely to be voted for candidate.

In fact, Joy News’ Raymond Acquah said the candidate who paid that amount lost the general secretary race.

Reports also say tertiary student’s elections also have elements of vote buying which is predominant in national elections. In other instances, would-be student leaders distribute branded t-shirts to thousands of students and sponsor entertainment programmes.

They also hand out cash gifts to students in order to buy their vote, sponsor birthday parties, breakfast for hundreds of students and even pay transport fares for students for an entire day.

In recent elections at GIJ, presidential candidates in terms of policy promised ‘one student, one laptop’ and ‘one nursing mother, one baby cot’ and GHS1,000 for each class.

It is not clear how much each candidate spends exactly but anecdotes from other campuses show students are spending outrageous amounts of money in these elections.

In an article written by Joy News’ Central regional correspondent, Richard Kojo Nyarko about Student Representative Council (SRC) elections at the University of Cape Coast he stated that one of the aspirants told him that his budget for the elections was GHS80,000.

All he needed to do was to spread this money around and he will be voted for, and it works perfectly.

The fear is that the potential for student leaders to be corrupt is heightened, because these same students graduate from school, enter into mainstream politics.

The potential to be corrupt with this background cannot be ignored.

The Executive Secretary of the Ghana Anti Corruption Coalition, Beauty Emefa Nartey, President of GIJ SRC, Emmanuel Kumah and a former General Secretary Candidate of the University of Ghana SRC Sophia Abena Serwaa Otoo joined in the discussion on the Super Morning Show and their account was eye-opening.

Credit: MyJoyOnline

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