University for Development Studies students in Wa Campus seeking travelling passports have raised red flag over the local National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) moves to “defraud and extort” money for processing the national ID.
But the NUGS President, Mr Isaac Opoku, has since denied the allegation saying every money collected was spent on intended purpose or item of which all the passport seekers were fully aware.
A large number of UDS students stormed the Ghana News Agency (GNA) office last week with files of petitions, receipts and memos, accusing the NUGS secretariat of fraud and extorting money from unsuspecting passport applicants.
They explained that NUGS supports students to process passports and in so doing advertised this year that the process would cost each interested student GH¢100.00 for the purchase of the form.
“But when they [NUGS] go to buy the forms they buy GH¢50.00 forms. So all students who took part in the passport registration have two receipts – GH¢100.00 and GH¢50.00,” one student who pleaded anonymity said.
The students produced several of their receipts to the GNA to support their claim.
The students said: “we have exhausted all internal mechanisms to ensure transparency and sanity in our student leaders.”
But the NUGS President Mr Opoku when contacted on Sunday told the GNA that the total amount of GH¢150.00 the Secretariat charged per student and non-student was used for the entire processing cost.
He explained that part of the money was used to purchase the passport forms, transport the applicants to Tamale [where the passport is acquired] and pay per diem of the driver that conveyed the passport seekers.
He added that some of the money was used to pay allowances of persons engaged in the registration of the applicants and advertisements they put out as well as follow-ups to ensure every applicant had his or her passport.
He said the GH¢150.00 claimed was informed by previous years’ experiences where students were charged GH¢90.00 and GH¢80.00 for the processing of the passports, but encountered difficulties wherein the end many of the applicants failed to get their passports and never also had their monies refunded.
However, in a petition by the UDS chapter of Youth Parliament to the Local NUGS UDS Campus, Wa Campus, called for an open forum on the passport issue among other alleged financial irregularities.
The letter addressed to the NUGS Secretariat also requested the President to appear before it to explain the matter, which according to the students he failed to respond to their demand.
The petition dated 9th April and jointly signed by Seidu Ayisha, Speaker of Youth Parliament as well as Atitianti James, Clark of Youth Parliament stated inter alia: “What informed the decision for charging students GH¢100.00 for traveling passport.”
“Give an account of all revenue and expenditure for the 2017/2018 local NUGS with all necessary documents backing it.”
According to the students, attempts to get the NUGS President to also appear before the Judiciary Board to explain matters proved futile.
The students also said they were then compelled to petition management of UDS to impress upon NUGS to address the students’ body in an open forum of which the local Union refused.
The GNA cited an internal memo dated 16th April by Vice Dean of Students and addressed to SRC/NUGS Presidents on the subject: “Open forum to account for students.”
The memo said: “Please, Article 2 infer, “the Supremacy of the Constitution”, I write to inform SRC/NUGS that the entrenched decision taken to disregard Management directive is grossly viewed with discontent.
“In furtherance of this SRC, the constitution preamble dictates your conduct: “we the students of the University for Development Studies acknowledge the necessity for us to have rules regulating our affairs and conducts on campus; desiring to maintain a disciplined environment and creating solidarity and fraternity amongst students, lecturers and workers of UDS: resolving to abide by democratic principles: and wishing to create acceptable avenues for communication and resolution of conflicts”.
The memo continued: “It must be noted that your stance was discussed and Management took the decision to schedule 16th April 2018 in the interest of the University.
“Your action is a gross violation of the principles and wishes to create acceptable awareness for the communication and resolution of conflicts which the student body is requesting for your defiance is an affront to Management.”
Mr Opoku has debunked all the allegations and said he was ready for any proper procedure for scrutiny.
He said about 40 to 50 passport seekers were registered by the NUGS Secretariat, but only five passports were outstanding which he had been making regular follow-ups to get them.