Nuer Students Suffered Humiliating Defeat in the 2016 SSSAK General Election

Posted: November 4, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël in Columnists, Commentary, Featured Articles, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Dak Buoth, Nairobi, Kenya

sssak-elections-2016

Duol Jok speaking in SSSAK conference at August 7th Memorial park Nairobi 2015

November 4, 2016 (SSB) — SSSAK’s election did not provide chance for long-overdue Change. In short, I would say it was an election with indifference. I will stress that in detail later herein. I would not just give you a catalogue of election process for others have already done that early in the week.

I will partly bring to the fore my superficial observations, and to unearth the dynamics, contradictions and the ideals our students in Kenya had inculcated; their decisions as well as what motivate those decisions in the running of SSSAK over the years. Sometime, when you look at how they behave, you wonder whether they act at will or they’re coerced by unseen forces. Last time I was moved to say, we’re probably suffering from moral and intellectual decay.

Almost on daily bases, we performed like Missionaries rather than Visionaries, you would recalled the work of early Missionaries in Africa and in the larger third world communities, they first came in advance to open ways and create opportunities for the imperialists to come and gag our mouths and undermine our civilizations. More often, South Sudanese react as if we’re hired to pull down one another in our society.

THE START AND STARTLING OF SSSAK ELECTION 2016

On Saturday, the South Sudan Students Association in Kenya (SSSAK) finally held its annual election on this 29th day of October 2016 at Safari club hotel, Nairobi. This plebiscite delayed for almost five months. It was not only supposed to be conducted at the same venue, but also on the same month of June as per its original constitution 2010, which is now reviewed. This unprecedented delay of election caused numerous setbacks, one being the slow voters’ turnout, unnecessary antagonism and all manner of slanders and innuendos; and in the process of long political bickering in streets between the councils and the executives, many students got discourage and scattered.

ELECTION DISPUTE ARISES

At the tail end, Mr. Aliandro Lotok was declared winner with slight margin. On the one hand, his arch rival Mr. Chuot Makur fiercely protested his victory saying that his votes from other stations were not counted by the electoral committee. The case is now hanging on a pendulum pending determination by Arbitration select committee.

When this election discord emerged, I nodded and said, this is the making of those who reviewed the constitution, and it has soon come to haunt us. They were trying to solve minor problems by inserting another critical problem. The idea that Nakuru and Eldoret students should vote separately was a recipe for disaster. It was for this reason that we did not give our blessing to this proposal at the time. It was not well thought of.

My Friend Deng Lual Denuun was the brainchild of this half-baked idea. When he suggested to us in two pages petition in 2015, I and the team did not heed to it for so many reasons which we shall explain in time to come. Moreover, even the idea that vice chairperson position be given to Nakuru and or Eldoret students was misguided.

If our earlier constitutional review commission was not abruptly and single-handedly disbanded by Deng Bol because of our difference political stances, I would have told Deng Lual face to face, why the idea was untenable at the time, I then understood that he was also part of my defunct committee.

In my view, it is easier to find means of transporting those students from Nakuru to Nairobi than to create separate polling stations. I heard the reason for having two polling stations was because Nakuru was far from Nairobi, yet there has never been wide complaint over a distance. In fact coming to Nairobi for single day serve both like a tour. Unless we rectify this blunder now we’re yet of the hook.

Another grievous error which the review committee has committed was to wittingly remove the word ‘chairman’ and replaced it the term ‘President’. Other time I saw on Election Day, every poster written president, president. In July 2015, i advised Mr. Aliandro to avoid the term President, and instead stick on the Chairman when he was Electoral commission chair. At the swearing in, I saw in their program, they had put me as chairman and Chol as president. Fortnight before this election, I tried to engaged Mr. Chuot Makur about this issue at Kimathi street in the company of Chep Azuma. I also told Sunday John to raise it at the SSSAK meeting. The registrar of societies will definitely reject that constitution should they take it to sharia house. All organizations, political or none, are not permitted to use the word president except in the constitution of the republic, as such the only one legitimate President recognized under the law of the land is Uhuru Kenyatta.

Good enough, Deng Lual DeNuun is now part of the Gatkor Gattuor led electoral commission 2016, and i think he should with immediate effect advice SSSAK members to remove that clause in the constitution because this provision is doing us bad than goods. It is must change clause, modern laws are never rigid but flexible.

Going by the word revitalization, our core objective then as Interim leadership was to impart lasting progressive values unto the students, reshape and reinvigorated the Association by reviewing the constitution that reflect structural administration geared toward promoting, social democracy, gender balance, diversity, accountability and good governance, peace and transparency not only in SSSAK and South Sudan, but Africa and beyond.

Congrats to Deng Michael and other two Bols namely Yar and Yaak and the rest for seeing into it that the constitution is finally review. In spite of the shortcomings that has come with it. We must accord credits where deem fit and poke hole where it’s deserved.

However, the unfortunate thing was that, out of all the clauses that we had wanted to insert, only one has been implemented by review commitee, the position of organizing Secretary. At one point in January, 2015, Cde. Chol Ajok Barec would remember too, we were sitting at Intercontinental hotel with certain south Sudanese Elder whose name I concealed, when he saw SSSAK official letter from Attorney General Office, he advices us that the number of executives be increase to eleven, so as to make it easy for decision making, especially at the time when the executives want to vote over certain issue.

CANDIDATE CHUOT MAKUR PARTLY BLAMED THOUGH

At the moment we have two guys Mr. Aliandro and Mr. Chuot claiming SSSAK chairmanship. The contenders of other positions conceded defeat same day. This morning, I saw the cover page of Mr. Chuot Makur’s petition against Aliandro and Gatkor Gattuor. I would love to peruse it too and examine their claims.

Two days before the Election Day on 29th October 2016, the chair of the electoral commission informed me that the election was going to take place on Saturday in Nairobi, and that I should avail myself to observe the exercise. He said that he was going to phone back and inform me of the time and the venue of the event. As a professional on electoral matters, I assured him of my presence there. Unfortunately, the guy never calls back as he promised.

On Friday evening, I decided to ferry myself to Nairobi in spite of the fact that he did not inform me about the time and the venue. I intend to inquire from him the following day morning after I arrive. The same day, at about 11:30pm before I alight from the Bus, I saw a letter on social media signed by Chuot Makur, he stated clearly that he was not going to participate in election tomorrow, citing electoral malpractices on the part of the commission. In fact, I assumed the reasons why the Chair of electoral commission didn’t call back was probably because the event was going to be adjourned or postponed.

Surprisingly, on Saturday we heard the election was going on as early scheduled. In the wee hours, I had already opted not to go as observer due to such mix and unclear information. From there l and Lieth Nyak began to wonder and asked questions, we said, how will this election really turn! Later in the day, I became more surprise than before when I heard Mr. Chuot Makur was in the hall with his group casting their votes despite their yesterday letter.

At first, I doubt it, but when I heard and confirmed that Chuot Makur was at the Safari club, I became aghast, I asked myself could it be that the letter of yesterday was authored by his opponent to confuse his supporters so that they don’t turn up? The simply logical was clear, that if indeed he authored the said letter, he could not have avails himself until their grievances are addressed. This is to avoid flip flopping and being incoherent like ordinary layman. As budding counsel he ought to know better than most of us; that we live by our words; and that our words are our bones. At least he would have shown an iota of consistency and some sort of reliability.

After the voting finished and the counting was going on, I went with Lieth Nyak to the venue just to hear the outcome and to meet colleagues there. At about 10:30pm, Aliandro and company were declared winners. Chuot Makur stood up and declined to concede defeat saying his votes from Nakuru had not been added to the overall results. The way he sound, it seems his argument was legitimate; despite the fact that I was not privy to the process. However, what was still ringing in my mind was the question of inconsistency that I mentioned above on his part considering the letter he wrote and never respected

Moreover, another thing made me wondered most in the hall, I realized the people who clapped after Aliandro was declared winner were less than those who clapped their hands when Chuot Makur raise and dispute the announcement of Aliandro as Chair. I saw many people standing up in support of Chuot when he decline to concede. I also realized there were no electoral observers, if there was one s/he would be given chance to say something insofar the election is concern. Only Education attaché and one Sunday John were allowed to give comments thereafter.

When I strolled around the premises to hear and gather the views of my senior colleagues; I got a sense in what Lino Madut Angok said in relation to Chuot’s protest. He said that Chuot should not blame anybody else but himself, because of the same letter he wrote the previous night. That perhaps some of his supporters did not come because he said he was not going to show up on the material day

NUER STUDENTS SUFFERED HUMILIATING DEFEAT

All Nuer Students faced humiliating defeat. They had four candidates, one girl and three gentlemen, Nyalang, Muon, Jangiey and Gatjang. The she was vying for Finance Secretary and the duo were battling in Secretary General Position against one Dinka candidates in the person of Tito Awan. If I give an approximate number of Nuer students who voted on that day, it cannot reach 10 let alone the Equatorians Students. In fact they went looking for sympathy votes which do not apply in SSSAK.

In real sense, the exercise wasn’t a real show of democracy as one may think. It is not ideas or one’s objectives that count. What matters most is your tribe, region and by extension clan or sub-clan. With the state of war that engulfed our country South Sudan, what many students value most is your political allegiance; if you happen to be Anti-opposition and pro-status quo, things work well for you. And this was what came in favor of my friend Aliandro Lotok. Him being sworn proponent of the Juba regime and Salva Kiir as person, he easily harvested the votes of all children of the Jieng council of Elders (JCE), who happened to be majority there. In other words, most Dinka Students rewarded him abundantly for his role during the war when he was news anchor for infamous SSTV before the like of James Magok Chilimchok transformed and rebranded the entity into SSBC.

You would realized, at the height of the conflict in 2013 and 2014, South Sudan Television (SSTV) was a major weapon used to vilify and castigate the Nuer populace resulting to Juba massacres, and Aliandro was among the mouthpieces who were parroting the vices. Currently, there are two propaganda lingering in SSSAK, one is that Nuers are Rebel; this is misinterpretation of a words rebel and an oppositionists. These words are completely different. Secondly, it is alleged that SSSAK is for SPLM-IG and that it is for Dinka students, that is why they have been running SSAK since.

These unsubstantiated notions among others made Aliandro behave in paranoid manner. In this election, i have heard and witnessed, he keep avoiding contact with any Nuer student throughout the campaign period. He rarely shakes hands with Nuer student in Public. This is due to the stereotype that all Nuer are rebels, so he doesn’t want to be implicated or accused of associating with people perceived as rebel by his employers.

Arguably, the election of Aliandro was to cover up the allegation that SSSAK is for Dinka, and that the rest are parasite and intruders. With him being chair, they can roam around and say, you see we are not tribalists as claim. So far many of them have already gone viral broadcasting on social media, that Aliandro is from lopid tribe, and that he has won the election of SSSAK.

In fact he is a mask which needs to be peel. Other than Aliandro being a mask to cover the rots, Dinka students want to use his proximity to the President’s office to access oil monies and to access entry to SSBC. Most students who voted for Aliandro hail from Warrap state, and they wish to use Aliandro as conduit in their quest to suck the ailing regime in Juba. Right from the time of Ayen Madut and Kueth Machar, students from Warrap and Lake State do not rhyme together politically; they only team up against the Nuer sometime. The Naath Students supported each other on clan bases. If you don’t come from one’s clan they better vote for other person including None Nuer. I experienced this pattern in 2014.

The less tribal section in SSSAK, and most liberal students who normally vote on the bases of ideas and the content of one’s character are those who hail from Northan Barelgazal and a few from Lake State and Equatoria region. I found these people are principled, and they don’t entertain these shenanigans that many of us subscribe to. In Bor section, a few nationalists like Yaakjohn Bol and Lual Abraham Thuch etc are in most cases outnumbered by the huge bunch of tribalists there.

Now the belief is that, when you’re with Nuer student in the executive commitee you may not easily scoop some dollars in Juba. It is laughable, even the Nuers who still served in the government rarely meet other Nuer for fear of risking their loyalty to the throne. A year and half ago, when I was SSSAK Interim Chairman in 2014/15, I could see and experience the anguished my colleagues went through. At one point I stopped signing our official letters. I would delegate others executives when communicating an issue to the Embassy. I remember one time, we went to Embassy to resolve certain problem; then deputy Ambassador call Morgan refused to greet me. I guessed he must have been misinformed that Dak was rabble-rouser. At the beginning, when he met the first students delegation led by Winston Mayom Ayiik from the University of Nairobi, Amb. Morgan was so passionate of the ideas that Students should reorganized themselves and move on, Suddenly, he became disturbed when I was later chosen by the SSSAK council to head SSSAK Interim leadership, right there, things started dragging their feet.

Late 2014, one of my former soul mate told me that he was being referred to ‘as rebel without gun’ by his Dinka colleagues. Whenever we meet accidentally in hotel or at bookshop, he would disappear immediately without my knowledge. But me I never shy greeting my colleague irrespective of tribe and their political allegiance.

This sort of stereotyping happened on both side of the political divides, when a Nuer is seen with Dinka, other Nuers also accused him of being Dinka, and they can brand him as Nuer-wew. Personally, I was fought at several times by my Nuer colleagues in public place. No one call me Nuervew because they knew I had no godfather working for the Government except them. They told me why do I wants SSSAK to exist, that SSSAK belong to government, and therefore we should kill it. I refused to be conscripted. My friend turned foe Deng Bol knew that.

The Dinka students happened to be the majority in SSSAK because they spend their time and resources to come and participate, and there is no problem with that at all. The overall number of Nuer and Equatoria students combined cannot reach 15 in the last election, is that because Dinka are many in Universities and colleagues in Kenya than all tribes in Nairobi; Absolutely not. They just don’t want to participate and vote. Pluto said, if you become indifference in politics you will be govern by those worse than yourself.

It is true SSSAK was founded by Dinka guy Philip Aguer, Deng Bol use to brag so much about that as if he is his grandson. In fact James Magok told me in 2014, that Aguer was not really the founder, but a founding Chairman. James hinted that the idea came as suggestion from one South Sudanese Elder who told them to get organized so that they could easily receive information on peace talk that was going on in Machakos and Naivasha. And because of Aguer’s proximity to Government then, they went and persuaded him to be their representative, and he accepted. In view of the foregoing, I think SSAK was founded on wrong footing, which is why members are still unaware of what students organization mean to them. Student’s organizations do fight for member’s right. Provide check and balance to reduce corruption. They are often perceived as lobbyists for democracy and peace and governance in the country.  This is what I have been trying to do.

Nonetheless, if other tribes realized that SSSAK was being own by certain group, you can establish yours and call it south Sudan something, the registrar of societies in Nairobi will not deny it as long as you met the criteria.

‘FISH ROT FROM THE HEAD’

There were obvious reasons as to why the poll did not take place on time as legally stipulated. An old adage says, ‘a Fish stinks from the head down’ meaning, that if the servant is disorderly, it is because the master is so. In other words, when an organization or state fails, it is the leadership that is the root cause. The problem started when the likes of Deng Bol Michael suddenly became cartels that turned SSSAK into a ‘begging bowl’. First of all, he fetched everything that was in the Association’s custody before leaving for unknown locations far beyond our reach.

Undoubtedly, Deng Bol Michael performed thorough looting and left the Association completely insolvent, and thus the election exercise could only be carry out after his departure from Nairobi. He was applying a guerilla like tactics, whenever he heard that certain amount has been granted to SSSAK like the small sum which was offered by James Wani; he would come slowly, picked it and hide at the countryside.

Unbeknown to other executives, his intention was to subject them into public ridicule; he assumed that because he was out of Nairobi, he would transfer the crime to others executive who were present in town, and at end of it, the students would exonerate him and instead blame the rest for the disappearance of Association resources. I’m SSSAK senior voluntary watchdog despite that I’m underdog. We can’t shy away from mentioning such vices that continue to being our Association into disrepute.

Were it not for John Yaak, Steven Bol, Adim Adim, Aduruga, Ayuel Taupiny, Nelson Gatmai and Tito Awan who demonstrated a zeal and commitment to the rule of law and constitutionalism, perhaps, the Saturday election would have not been possible. While there, Deng Bol needs to decolonize his mind; he would be remembered in SSSAK as dishonored guy who loves putting on suits from sunrise to sunset.

Early this year, everybody recall the day when he was lured to speak on infamous SSTV in Juba, he appeared bragging, saying ignorantly that coup attempt was committed by Riek Machar while knowing very well the claim was already dismissed in several official publications. As we speak now, nobody can raise finger to defend this weird claim. I think Deng was making such remark to appease his tribal warlords, the JCE; and if that be the reason, he must be treading on wrong path. He is guy who does not owe himself a duty of care.

A week before he parroted such defamatory claims, he did have a gut to write an excerpt stating that i should be charge for treason. I really wondered, did any of his accomplices ask him whether I was in Juba when crisis unfolded in 2013? Again, under what jurisdictions, and in which law courts can his judgment prevails? Now the question is, was that the reason he left and took the Union’s belongings. I believe he was unaware that I’m the type who is not afraid of his shadow.

At first I thought he was my Friend whom we ate, shared ideas and strategized together, in fact I don’t remember a single moment when we disagree seriously not on personal note but even in the larger students’ political landscape. Little did i know the guy was baying for my blood by chasing wild dogs after me.

Now that he is gone for good. Let him learn to behave. I wish him to settle quietly and undergo through some sorts of transformation and inspiration before he expired totally, we still need him as colleague, failure to do so, we can petition for his extradition.

The writer can be reached for comments via eligodakb@yahoo.com

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing.

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  1. […] Nuer Students Suffered Humiliating Defeat in the 2016 SSSAK General Election […]

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