The chairperson, honorable members of the electoral commission, incumbent SRC/NUGS executives present, invited guests, fellow candidates aspiring for various portfolios, my valued supporters, ladies and gentlemen. It has become increasingly evident that we are at the crossroads of our future as a relatively young university with regards to the student front; I believe the choice or choices we make in a few days to come will permanently print a footpath for posterity, and forever etch our names on the walls of history as the people who took a stand to bring about a turnabout in our fortunes and destiny.
Permit me to make a brief introduction of myself, Mr chairman. My name is Andrew Ziblim. I was born in the Upper West Region but grew up in the Greater Accra Region. I spent three years in Cape Coast during my days as a student of Mfantsipim School and I must say, those were very formative years of my life. I got the chance to experience leading a team as project overseer of the prestigious Botaepa Magazine, and debated for my school on countless occasions, earning several accolades along the way. I am known to be very vocal and not one to shy away from an intellectual discussion I feel strongly about, and also being part of the solution. I found myself in this great school of ours in 2014 and in about six months, I would have been on this campus for exactly four years. I live in a private hostel.
Now let us go straight to the point ladies and gentlemen. It is no secret that a lot of confidence has been lost in the SRC, and year after year, we are promised restoration of lost trust and confidence, only for the same story to be told after all is said and done. I am not here to make vague promises; I intend stating my agenda clearly and presenting proof of their feasibility. I am not going to preach restoration of trust without first showing you what I can and intend to do. The student voter of today is much too astute to be deceived, and I do not intend wasting time on rhetorics and what could have been.
There is no need for a tall list of policies just to have an attractive campaign; I intend to tailor all our policies towards the issues that are urgent today: security, vigorous protection of student rights and welfare, modernization, and revenue generation. People always neglect some important pillars of our school like mature students, graduate students, foreign students, and students off campus. In fact, sometimes we all feel we are neglected. My brothers and sisters, I assure you that you are woven into the fabric of what I want, with your collaboration, to tailor for our institution.
Ladies and gentlemen, the SRC of UDS-TLC needs an urgent face-lift. We cannot call ourselves a university and have an SRC secretariat we all cannot be proud of. For the past four years, we have had a container-turned-office sitting on SRC land, that no one has made use of, for obvious reasons. I intend initiating the building of a very functional and sustainable structure to house the administrative needs of the SRC and provide a stable environment for future executives to work in effectively. Most importantly however, the secretariat will provide a single and stable location to be able to get any kind of help or information required, be it student loans or other pertinent information, because we are all witness to the sometimes unfortunate situation of not finding a particular executive when you need him/her. The SRC would also be able to get a suitable area to store items whenever required.
I have already contacted the Director of Estate of the university and he has assured us that it is 100% feasible; all we would need as SRC is to provide a building plan and make funds available for work to commence. I have already done the first aspect by personally financing a building plan from an architecture firm, so that if given the nod, we can move quickly.
Mr chairman, ladies and gentlemen, for about 70% of us that live in private accommodation, security is one of the most pertinent issues we need addressed with absolute urgency. The incidence of robberies over the past few months has spiked up in an unprecedented fashion. Students cannot even go the library block and return to their hostels after about 8 o’clock without being scared. We sometimes have to be indoors like children after around 7PM because we are afraid that our hard earned valuables can be taken from us. The sad truth however is that, we are not on university land, and so whatever management wants to do in this regard would be very limited. I do not want us to sit back and wait for someone to lose his/her life before we spring to action; that would be very naive and unfortunate. I cannot attempt to fool any of you here by promising one hostel, one streetlight project because it is going to be very costly and frankly, a misplaced priority since we’ll basically be providing lights to private people with our money. We can have a very simple solution to this problem we face however. This would be to set up a UDS TLC Private Hostels Association/Union.
This is one major policy the vice president will be put in charge of, as part of my commitment to bringing a whole new level of relevance to the office of the vice president. There are about 30 private hostels around campus, and many more “homestels” that house a great majority of UDS students. The security and welfare of our fellow students is something we intend to take seriously because many a time, students are robbed outside of campus on their way to or from their hostels in the night after burning the midnight oil at the library or visiting friends. One of the main causes of this is the apathy of hostel owners to protect their clients.
One of the very first things I intend doing in office is to build a strong union of these hostels with student representatives and the landlords and owners. I will ensure the enforcement of strict rules that, among many others, require that hostel owners either provide streetlights in front of their hostels or employ security personnel; make the rooms more comfortable and fit to house students; make sure there is a steady provision of potable water, or if not, the assurance of a plan B if there is shortage; and basically anything that will make the student’s stay comfortable. The penalty for not taking this rule seriously would be to blacklist such hostels and alert fresh students and continuing students not to go there; going to such hostels will be at your own risk. Apart from boosting the security we so very much need, we also get to make sure these hostels have the right living conditions and amenities to house students comfortably. I saw the Director of Estate for advice on this point and he was in full agreement and support.
Still addressing the ever present canker of the precarious state of our safety on and around campus, I intend acquiring streetlights for vantage points on campus. It is really sad to see that there are several dark areas on and around campus, that create a breeding ground for robbers and reduce the overall beauty of our institution in the night. We can also take steps as students to help ourselves with what we have by providing some streetlights. As part of my dedication to research and competence, I contacted the Director of Works of the university and he assured me of the feasibility of the plan; he helped me with the approximate prices and types of streetlights and we discussed areas we could place them to the advantage of all students. Your endorsement will lift us from the discussion stage to the action stage; I’m itching to complete what I have begun, believe you me.
The next visionary idea I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, is the UDS-SRC app for mobile. As part of my vision of seeing our campus more modernized, creating a smooth channel of communication between the students and SRC, generating revenue, improving the security of students on and off campus, promoting writers, poets, and entrepreneurs on campus, etc., I intend introducing a mobile app that covers the above mentioned areas and more. For instance, instead of announcements being sent on Whatsapp groups (very unreliable since just a tiny fraction of students is on SRC pages), they come as notifications on everyone’s smartphone.
Also, in line with the Private Hostels Association policy, private hostels will be advertised and rated for all students to make informed decisions on their accommodation; hostels will be rated overall and in key areas such as water availability, security, and facilities. We are very much aware of an existing SRC website which is very dormant and has lost its purpose; we intend incorporating it into the app if need be. The app will have all needed information about SRC, including the constitution, map of campus, action plans, and budgets for the scrutiny of students. We will be able to have polling on the app to get to know the mind of students when major issues come up or some decisions are to be made. Students will be able to sign up for clubs and societies, associations and recognized religious groups with forms online which, apart from the convenience we will see, will present the respective bodies with comprehensive databases of their members.
All our talented poets and upcoming artistes as well as playwrights will be given the platform and limelight they deserve. There will be revenue from the app because businesses will be given the opportunity to advertise at a fee. There will be news to keep students informed about any happenings on campus, with the formation of an independent media arm of the SRC. As part of my unrelenting and consistent dedication to facts and evidence, I have visited four different IT firms and have obtained invoices from all of them, detailing the cost and time required to develop the app. It is very feasible and cost effective, and I believe, as I am sure you can envision, that we will get value for money.
Mr chairman, in my humble attempt to make my manifesto presentation as fluid and comprehensive as possible, I have endeavored to demonstrate the links between all my policies and not make them disjointed. In this light, I would like to introduce my next idea for the SRC. This is the acquisition of SRC owned office equipment. This policy/project is in line with my passionate objective of creating revenue for the SRC and not always waiting to collect and exhaust dues. The effect and benefits will probably be reaped by successive administrations, but I do not care; all that is important is that we implement sustainable and visionary ideas that benefit us in the long term. I intend, God willing with your nod, to reduce the burden of having to go far places and paying a lot of money in printing handouts and the like.
I, with my running mate, acquired an invoice of the items from a company based in Tamale, just to get a general idea of cost, and I am glad to say it is very cost effective. The items are simply: one computer, a photocopier, and a printer. The UDS student gets to use these machines at a substantial discount. The revenue will be used for maintenance, and the excess will be pushed into SRC coffers for projects.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is sad to see waste bins on campus several metres apart, with long stretches having none at all. I seek to greatly improve the sanitation situation on campus by, in collaboration with school management, providing more waste bins. We have contacted Savannah Waste Management Services Ltd on cost of services and we are confident we can go through with it, with permission and cooperation from management, since I am very well aware that it is indeed school management that has to oversee this.
Mr chairman, I would consider it a great and unpardonable sin to mention so much and not state a major policy I personally hold dear to my heart. This is the extension of library hours during exam periods, in collaboration with the library leadership. Students deserve all the comfort available because we pay fees for services. In this light, I have made it a pledge to extend library hours in the buildup to and during end of trimester examinations for better overall performance and comfort. I contacted the Tamale Campus Office of the School Librarian and was assured of the practicability of the idea as well as its eagerness to cooperate with the SRC to make such a much needed initiative come to fruition.
Mr chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to invite you to join the front. Let us join hands and be part of something greater than ourselves. I beseech you to pay rapt attention while I quickly wrap up with the following additional key policies:
ON THE ACADEMIC FRONT
- Improving the quality of internet connectivity on campus
- Organizing of debates more often and working to boost attendance at such programs
- Water dispensers in the library
- Strong push for graduates to get their certificates on time
- Introduction of application of statement of results by the SRC for interested classes (collective) or groups of students to ease the burden of inconvenience and allow students monitor their results to avoid problems in their future
- Advocating for a closer look at the timetables of various classes in various faculties by school management to prevent the clashing of classes in lecture rooms and sharing of lecture rooms
ON THE WELFARE AND SECURITY FRONT
- Taking a specific and very active interest in the welfare of each and every association and religious group on campus
- Continue the good works of previous administrations by organizing PC Clinics
- Ensure the efficiency of the Private Hostels Association to cover many aspects of welfare and security listed in the flagship policies
- Improving the situation of the washrooms, especially those at the library block
- More support given to the UDS cadet corps
ON THE ENTERTAINMENT FRONT
- Movie nights at least once a trimester
- Strategies to improve attendance at SRC week celebration such as a more vigorous publicity and attractive program line up
- Continuation of the financing of the DSTv subscription on time and consistently
- Promoting cultural displays and entertainment activities in collaboration with the regional associations and UNESCO-UDS
- Close collaboration with entertainment cliques on campus to promote entertainment and fun on campus
- Support artistes, poets, playwrights, etc. through vigorous publicity and financial support where needed
ON THE GOVERNANCE FRONT
- A gender balanced administration
- Introduction of some ad hoc committees to speed up work, especially a committee in charge of religious affairs to allow SCC and GMSA have legitimate say in the dealings of SRC at GA
- Organizing of well timed open fora at least once in a trimester to keep students abreast with the honest truth of the dealings, successes, and challenges of the SRC
- Proper publicity of minutes of GA meetings to the student populace
ON THE SPORTS, GAMES, AND FITNESS FRONT
- Active partnership and assistance from the SRC for the vibrant and growing Keep Fit Club on campus
- Proper motivation of sportsmen and women by the SRC
- Improvement of the inter department games during the SRC week
Before I conclude and take my seat, I would like to make a rallying call to all seated here and to the electorate that let’s not be fooled like in years past; let’s measure the policies, principles, and ideals for ourselves and make informed decisions for ourselves. Let’s make sure research has been done and ensure feasibility before we make our choices. For instance, I could come and try to deceive the honorable members of this house by preying on their need for a back up power plant for the library block or any other building, but I know very well that a plant for the library block in particular will cost almost two thirds of our dues, not to mention fueling and maintenance, hence it borders on not feasible.
I consider myself a very honest person and so I would speak the truth anywhere, regardless of repercussions, and so still on this instance, I have done the necessary research and discovered that we could either work hand in hand with school management to find a dedicated power line straight from VRA, or make sure a commitment is made by all administrations to leave an amount so that we can cumulate it after a few years to get our plant.
The chairperson, honorable members of the electoral commission, incumbent SRC/NUGS executives present, invited guests, fellow candidates aspiring for various portfolios, my valued supporters, ladies and gentlemen. Our forefathers in their great wisdom have told us that anyone who thinks he is leading with nobody following is only taking a walk. I am aware of our disillusionment and very lowered expectations when it comes to the SRC over the past years, but I can assure you that I am here to help resuscitate our broken spirits.
Even a clock that isn’t working shows the time correctly two times a day. There is hope; let us be optimistic once again, because if we decide to abstain from choosing our own leaders, they will still be chosen for us regardless and whatever missteps they take, we may have to bear the brunt. Let us rise up and become that beacon of change and hope that we have yearned for; change starts with you. I have my ideals and I do not compromise no matter what. I believe I have what it takes to make intelligent decisions and stand up for what is right. I believe in the great potential our school and UDS-TLC SRC has. I believe in our brand as the light of the north. I believe we can once again be proud of our institution. I believe in my self, but most importantly, I believe in you. Do you know what a front is? It is the area where the battle has to be fought. Ladies and gentlemen, join the front.
ANDREW M. ZIBLIM
SRC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
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