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Upclose with SRC President-David Boakye

David Boakye is the SRC president of the university of cape-coast for 2013/2014 academic year. David, known in student political life as “The voice”  assumed the throne of the office  when he beat his closest contender, Benedict Yeboah-korankye also known as “The Emancipator” who was tipped as his “Goliath” and ascended the highest student office in the University of Choice.

This interview was conducted by  Abdul-Karim Mohammed A.(Fayar) with David Boakye on Wednesday, 18th September, 2013.

Choicism: Good afternoon Mr. Boakye

David: Good afternoon Fayar.

Choicism: Mr president, can you please tell us something brief about yourself?

David: (chuckles) aamm, I’m David Boakye, a level 400 student, a Casfordian, Christian, Presbyterian to be precise and a politician.

Choicism: Are you single or married?

David: Oh single.

Choicism: So where did you complete your secondary education?

David:  I completed my secondary school at Sunyani Secondary.

Choicism: what are your hobbies?

David: My hobby necessarily is reading. i like reading newspapers especially the political contents.

Choicism: who are your parents?

David: My parents are some humble people . My father actually is late now little just over a year. My mum is a humble farmer some where in Tachiman in the Brong Ahafo region.

Choicism: what sports do you play?

David: I’m not fully into sports but i play volleyball.

Choicism: who are your mentors in life?

David: my mentor, politically I will say former President Kuffour. He  is somebody I have observed a lot in terms of my political life. Then if you come to campus here, I have come to take two professors; the Vice Chancellor himself, Prof. D. D. Kuupole, then the Pro-Vice Chancellor, Prof John Nelson Buah. They are people I have studied a lot and want to pick after them.

Choicism: what are your visions in life?

David: My hope is that whatever the Good Lord has for my life before  I was created, I should be able to achieve it in life and shouldn’t have truncations in anyway. So I’m praying that what I’m destined for should come to pass.

Choicism: Now to your campaign, one of the key issues that many of you made a political capital of was the issue of school fees, but it appears the fees seems to be increasing year by year instead of reducing. what happened?

David: You see, UCC school fees  is always in such a way that the way we pay our fees if you are not well abreast of  it, you would think it is so exorbitant. You see, starting from Departmental Fees , it supposed to be like  the department will have a forum with the students to argue it out and come with a compromise the fees they are charging and all the students will append their signatures  to show that actually they have agreed on that. I have letters to show that nursing students agreed to pay their clinical fees by 100%. The  matured nursing students, that is the graduate students for instance agreed to pay GH¢3,000.00 as their clinical fees. We were all marveled when it came there. Aside that there are some departments that you see that they don’t meet the students but are able to conjore signatures to bring and authenticate that students agreed on that.

This year for belonging to school of biological science you pay GH¢100.00 and then every department under school of biological science paid GH¢150.00, which they attached students signatures to it. For instance the Level 400 Education Students, though I am a member, I didn’t go for that meeting and when they met, what happened was that they came to tell us that the woman assured them we were going to pay GH¢240.00 but the woman ended up attaching their signatures to GH¢300.00 and nobody was there to defend because  you the student leader who was there at the meeting cannot defend because some of your colleagues have appended their signatures to it.

All these monies are added to the fees, Hall bill is added to the fees, SRC bills are added unlike other universities. There, these monies are paid separately so  you would  go and pay the school fees that is a bit low, GH¢550 or GH¢600.00, then you go to the department during registration and pay the bill, go to the hall and pay your bill, go to the students office and pay your bill, which is compulsory, but ours is all computed together just to make sure the fees process is not abused.

This year, there was an introduction of Maintenance and Replacement Levy but we were able to lobby for it to start from as low as GH¢35.00, Legon is starting from GH¢100.00, which they made a lot of noise about it but they could not reduce it even a pesewa, but every student heard that they were talking about it. We did not talk but we were able to reduce it.

Also some of the breakdown had been agreed on not in previous administrations like the SRC Hostel Levy. For which you know a former President took a loan, put up a hostel and now we have to pay and I can assure you for the next 15 years, no leader can say we would not pay, we are going to pay.

Aside that, we agreed 2 years ago that we were going to host GUSA games this year and we have to put up our Sports Complex in good shape and they are charging us. Our original Sports Levy is GH¢25.00, so they have increased it to GH¢40.00. How do I come to reduce it? It has been agreed long before I came in. ATL fm, Comrade’s time, they agreed to pay GH¢7.00 per student for three years, so every student will pay for three times to put up the building, it is there on paper and the documents are there to show, so how do you say you would not agree because a former leader had agreed? And this office administration is a continuous process, what somebody does today will continue to exist tomorrow so you cannot say I wasn’t there so I am not going to pay because they were all student leaders.

If you do take out all these additions, you will come to the realization that UCC fees is the lowest. Take  for instance Academic User Fees, UCC charges GH¢121.00, it is the sciences who pay GH¢198.00. At Legon, theirs start from GH¢151.00 and some pay as much as GH¢300.00 but here our highest is GH¢198.00. So these are the unique situations.

Choicism: Ok, would you advice SRC hopefuls not to make political capital out of fees?

David: The advice I have for them is that , the question you asked me, if you actually followed my campaign, I told students for school fees, there was no way I could reduce it, so if you pick my manifesto, it is there. You can go through all the pages, there is no single page I talked about reducing fees because  I know how it is.

There is one thing I want to tell the SRC Presidential hopefuls, that is, they shouldn’t be talking  about things they cannot fulfill because students begin to lose confidence in you as soon as you fail to deliver your promise right from day one and they would hold you accountable to it.

Everywhere I am asked, I have said that school fees is something they should not  make it a focus because you cannot change it. The only thing you can do is to negotiate with administration because as part of their autonomy, government has given universities the power to increase fees up to 30% per year but there is no single year they have crossed the 30%, so how do you do complain?

Choicism: What are some of the monumental achievement you have chalked so far?

David: Oh since we came, I can boldly tell you that the renovation that are currently ongoing in the Lecture Theatres like the Old library, LLT, Assembly hall, the projectors that are being fixed are all being done by my administration. New chairs are coming. All these are as a result of the good fight we have fought and evidence are there to show, we have letters to show the correspondence with administration, what we have been able to achieve and today we had a meeting with the VC  and he confirmed it.

The UCC hospital is now going to give students a separate OPD  and two  doctors  to serve students only so that students  do not spend long hours there. We have been able to work to bring NHIS office to campus to start operating. The place we have dedicated to them is almost ready.

Choicism: So before you leave  office, what would you want UCC to remember you for?

David: Well, I would want to see the implementation of about 80%- 90%  of my  manifesto promises.

Choicism: What are some of your key manifesto promises?

David: Key among them include; to get a plant for FELT, to put the shuttle station in good shape so that students will be under shade even when it is raining. Then some dark areas, we should  be able to put some lights there. Then one thing is that, as many may not be aware, UCC  is the best Agric School in Africa but one major challenge we have  is that any time they come for inspections, one key question they often ask is that our trees should be labelled with their botanical names and the local names to show that indeed UCC Agric School is the best in Africa. This is a project I have taken and we will do it.

Choicism: You just told me you had a meeting with  the VC and University administration. What are some of the key highlights of that meeting?

David: Basically, it was about the strike action and how we can cope and would  be able to conduct ourselves so that the impact of the strike is not felt. We also looked at how to get people understand that UCC is not the only place this strike is ongoing but the entire country and therefore it is beyond us and so we should wait patiently for them to resume.

Choicism: With respect to the strike, what contingency measures have been put in place to minimize the impact?

David: As I said, there are some casual workers in now to work for us  and then for FUSSAG, we have been able to get a skeletal staff in place who are suppose to help students with issues of registration and others.

Choicism: Alright, the level 100 are expected to be in next week. How far are you prepared for them?

David: We are actually preparing to bring them, so we are organizing buses which is called ‘hussle-free’ to bring them and when they arrive we have programmes in place to welcome them. This year the orientation will be just two days, so we would want to be there with them, visit them in their Lecture Theatres and talk to them to cope with the environment. As usual, the freshers akwaaba night will be in place in addition to some other programmes.

Choicism: We here at thank you for making time out of your busy schedule to talk to us.

David: I also thank you so much for the great job you are doing. I am always available whenever you need me.