The student body wants the withdrawal of a Constitutional Instrument (CI) which they feel “is not in the interest of students”.
The hierarchy of the institute’s SRC – particularly the president, Benyamin Madugu Avornyotse and Speaker, Asraf Kele – have been on the receiving end of criticisms from a section of students who suspect foul play in the decision to revert to the electronic-voting (E-voting) system for the 2017 elections.
Some students believe the Speaker used “unjustified veto” to approve the CI, even when it was obvious that majority of General Assembly (GA) members resoundingly called for its rejection.
The GA constitutes representatives from each class, and serves as the Executive arm of the SRC – a role which includes deliberating and collaborating with the SRC to make decisions.
If any motion is to be passed by the SRC, it must first go through the GA as the school’s constitution stipulates.
Last Friday, a motion was tabled by the Electoral Commission (EC) chairman, Emmanuel Kumah, for the E-voting system to be adopted for the 2017 elections, instead of the manual voting system that was used last year. Having read the CI (the document used by the EC), GA members were allowed the space to probe and possibly accept or reject the document.
The EC chairman defended the E-voting system, opining that it was safe and cheaper as compared to the manual system.
However, some members held dissenting views, insisting the E-voting system could not be trusted, and moved a motion for its rejection. Others argued that the system was easier to be manipulated, citing the year 2014 as reference, when the result of the election was contested in court after E-voting was used.
After a brief banter between members of the GA, the Speaker – Asraf Kele – called for a motion to be moved to either accept or reject the document tabled. But while some moved for it to be rejected, others countered.
It was therefore down to the Speaker to use his discretionary powers to decide which means to arrive at a decision – either by the voice count or head count method. However, his decision to go with a voice count instead of a head count left some GA members suspecting foul play.
A voice count meant that the party who were most vociferous would have the decision go their way. The Speaker subsequently, using his discretionary powers, declared that the document had been accepted.
Reports suggest that the decision by the Speaker was against the wish of majority GA members, who duly registered their displeasure.
Placards with various inscriptions were raised in protestation of the seemingly “autocratic” ruling by the Speaker, who has subsequently been accused of plotting to rig the upcoming elections.
Some placards read: “Say no to E voting”, “Bring back our ballot papers”, “God save GIJ SRC”, “Paper voting is bae” et al.
Deputy Speaker for GIJ’s Executive arm, Immanuel Kabu Nartey tendered in his resignation a day after the document was approved by the Speaker. In his resignation letter he cited “the trampling of the rights of Honourable members and their respective constituents by the substantive speaker [Asraf Kele]” as a reason to step down. The Deputy Speaker added that “the Speaker acted as a reservoir for all; consulting none but himself and those he championed their cause”.
The Clerk of the GA, Musbau Razak, together with deputy, Kwasi Nimo Jnr, have also resigned in the aftermath of the Speaker’s posture in accepting the document. Musbau Razak contends that the Speaker acted like a “dead goat” when he decided to “ignore the very voice of the [GA] members and chose to satisfy his very parochial interest”.
Kwasi Nimo Jnr also holds that the Speaker showed “an open disregard for the constitution and a blatant mulishness towards corrections” when he decided to ignore the voice of the majority."
The matter has since escalated with some students calling for the impeachment of the Speaker for his posture, while others have accused the SRC president of having an interest in the 2017 elections.
A petition is already set to be presented before the Dean of Students at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, with the hope that the Speaker’s decision could be rescinded.
The hash tag #BlackMonday is also trending on the institute’s social media platforms, as some students have decided to attend classes on Monday in all-black outfits as a way of registering their displeasure with the “autocratic leadership” style by the SRC.