The recent student unrest that shook the Bolgatanga Polytechnic in the Upper East region over a minibus scandal looks far from over with the agitated students issuing fresh threats to disrupt lectures Wednesday.
The latest development comes after the leader of the demonstrators, Moses Asooh, had spent 3 hours in police detention in the regional capital, Bolgatanga, for levelling what was considered a threat to the president of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), Francis Bugase, on social media.
Mr. Bugase has been at the centre of ceaseless ranting and raving on campus for his alleged purchase of a 13-year-old “rickety 12-seater bus” at a bloated overall cost of Gh¢70,000 for the SRC with the SRC dues. And he is reported to have been slapped with an order to pay 3% (Gh¢2,400) of the Gh¢70,000 as part of the recommendations made by a 5-member committee instituted by the management of the school to look into the alleged minibus scam.
But the students, who already are very furious with the management for not doing exactly what they had asked for- to ensure that the bus was returned and their monies refunded, say the demonstration they have scheduled for Wednesday is directed at the school’s administration for reportedly having a hand in Mr. Asooh’s arrest and detention.
The upcoming demo, which unlike the previous one staged with placards on campus under a heavy police guard, is planned to spill over from the four walls of the school to the commercial core of the regional capital, about 15 kilometres south of the school’s main campus at Sumbrungu.
“By 7 o’ clock exactly Wednesday, we are locking the gates. No entry; no exit. All we are saying is we demand explanation from management. Moses called me that our registrar had called him to report to the police station for questioning. We were thinking the invitation to the police station was going to be some questioning and answers. Later, we had the information that he was arrested for no reason. We demand explanation from management.
“And also concerning our SRC bus, which we are asking [Francis] to return and he’s refusing, we are demanding for explanation. We are hitting the streets of Bolgatanga and Sumbrungu that management should come out and explain why they are not doing anything about the issue. This SRC scandal has been going on since 2013,” one of the aggrieved students, who did not want his name mentioned for alleged threats, told Starr News.
SRC week celebration in limbo
At least 800 students are expected to defy a reported caution from school authorities to stage the intended protest rally whilst the gates to the school remain locked.
The latest protest threats coincide with the period the students should be celebrating their SRC week. The event is not going to hold, according to the wounded students who are holding the SRC leader responsible for their grief over the bus.
“We don’t care whether it would affect our lectures or not. We have to do something for management to know that we are not stupid. One-third of the students, which is about 800 students, are going to demonstrate even though some lecturers are going round putting fear in some of the students not to take part. If they don’t come out to explain how and why they purchased that bus, we are not celebrating any SRC week. And we are serious about this issue,” another student told Starr News anonymously.
Another student, Fred Castro, said: “We the students know we don’t have SRC president. We have these issues on our hands and we are going to celebrate SRC week. What do you think would happen? We cannot sit down, watch someone spend our money and again have the strength to lock someone for insulting him on social media. President John Mahama was insulted on social media all the time and no one was arrested because of that. If management is idling about it, we don’t blame them because it wasn’t their money that was used to buy the bus. It was our money. We are boycotting lectures and we’ll make sure they dance to our tune this time.”
Demonstrators harassed my wife- Registrar
The Registrar of the school, whose residence reportedly was encircled by enraged students whilst Mr. Asooh was in police cells, seems to have had enough of the unrest that has plagued the school for about two weeks.
He told Starr News Wednesday morning the school would no longer stomach the pressure the students had continued to mount on management after authorities had punished those involved in the shady bus deal.
“These things annoy me,” he said. “If the police asked me to invite a student to the police station, am I the one causing somebody’s arrest? Go to the police station and check the records there. Is that the first time police has asked me to invite students to the police station? That’s not the first time. What do they want? They marched to my house when I lost my uncle and was in the village. They came, harassed my wife in my house when I was not there. Is that how students are supposed to behave?”
He further warned: “We are going to deal with all of them. They think they can take the law into their hands and do whatever they like. They should wait. The school is governed by rules. Management is already dealing with this matter. We have set up a committee. We have issued letters to the SRC president and the Financial Secretary to pay some monies. What do they want to achieve with this? Are they the people managing the institution?”