History Doesn’t Forgive Nor Forget: Students’ Leadership at the University of Juba

Posted: March 31, 2019 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Education
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“University of Juba Student Activities -history doesn’t forgive and as well it doesn’t forget”

By Bek Dhuorjang Chol, Juba, South Sudan

Bek Dhuorjang Chol
Bek Dhuorjang Chol

Sunday, 31 March 2019 (PW) — Ten (10) years ago, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Students League (SPLM SL) in the university had participated in the Juba University Students Union elections and won those elections. In 2009 elections, the SPLM SL in coalition with other students’ organizations won JUSU elections and formed a collegial student’s leadership. During the sitting of the council of forty (40) members, the members elected Majok Ayii Muorwel as speakers of the council and Ahmed Abasher Alkhatim Ashgar who hail from Nuba Mountains as president of JUSU. Abasher appointed Dr. Albino Bol Dhieu as the information secretary and Dr. John Sebit Madit Johnson as academic affairs secretary.

During this period, the SPLM SL and JUSU were vigorously doing great facing a lot of challenges related to the political situation of the country. By then Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin had broken away from the SPLM and founded SPLM DC. The challenges of 2010 elections were ahead while bearing in mind the southern Sudan and Abyei Area referendum, and the popular consultation to the people of the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains according to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Abasher had demonstrated a very good leadership at the end of his term by having successfully handed over the JUSU back to its rightful members of the general assembly.

In 2010 prior to JUSU elections, I was elected chairman of School of Management Sciences Students Association (SMSSA). With my executive committee, Michael Guei Liah and Michael Deng Deng were nominated from among the general assembly members to represent the SMS family in JUSU executive. Dr. Albino Bol didn’t make it back to JUSU instead was replaced by John Sebit who was re-nominated by his college of medicine back to JUSU and from Northern Bahr el Ghazal Michael Malek Dut was nominated from the college of social and economic studies. We did all we can as members of the SPLM SL and as members of SMSSA executive to make sure we win the elections and serve the students to the best of our abilities.

We won the elections and Michael Guei Liah was elected speaker of the council of 40 and Dr. John Sebit Madit Johnson as president of JUSU. A few months later according to the executive committee of JUSU and SPLM SL leadership, Dr. John Sebit was accused of power abuse and funds embezzlement hence he was dismissed from both the JUSU and SPLM SL.(Anyway that’s not the point of my article to deal with) only to mention what had happened in chronological narration.

After those allegations labelled against him and his subsequent removal from the JUSU leadership, Mr. Ajang Ajang Lino who was a student in the college of the education department of English literature was placed in as an interim president of JUSU in March 2011. Ajang, in fact, completed the duration and event went further until 2012. Ajang was in Juba while we were in Kadaru Khartoum; I knew nothing about him until in a later interaction.

Four months after my arrival to Juba, with my executive committee we have conducted a very colourful cultural day on the 3.3.2012 within the campus as SMSSA. Hon. Dr. Cirino Hetang Ofuho the then Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports was our patron of the day with Hon. Francis Barison and Hon. Awer Dau Agany former ministers of culture, youth, and sports in the defunct central Equatoria and Upper Nile states as our guests of honor. Ajang delegated Gai Badeng Gai who his culture and information secretary. After the event, we did receive a letter from Ajang the JUSU president inviting all the college academic associations in the University for a meeting.

In the meeting, Mr. Ajang communicated to us that he had planned to ban all the regional and tribal associations within the campus and that the academic associations should pull their socks to administer and handle students issues at the college levels. I knew Ajang as a good teamwork leader and administer. In the principles of management and leadership, a leader is someone who sees his/her role as a facilitator and someone who brings out the potential in others. Good group-centred leadership constantly creates opportunities for others to develop their leadership skills and talents. Someone who delegates even his powers to others motivates, work and respect others.

The only ostracized incident which went on records was, on Monday 26th March 2012 during the students tribal fights particularly that when dispute began as a football landing outside the pitch within the University campus and a passing by student kicked it into the distance different direction. That action angered one of the players who rushed on and beat him; a full-blown tribal conflict erupted on the campus (Equatoria vs Dinka).

I have had witnessed students fighting using sticks and stones to hit one another, resulting in some sustaining injuries. Victims were rushed to Juba Teaching Hospital for medical care. Most of the tribally minded people stated the fight was a direct consequence of Ajang’s decision to ban tribal and regional associations on campus. Such association members disastrously tried to force him from his position, leaving a tense atmosphere at the University campus.

Ajang tried in his capacity as students’ leader to mediate the tribal clashes which followed the football incident. According to late Prof. Lino Gwaki who was the Dean of Students Affairs, he said Ajang had abused his limited powers of students union and crowned himself with that of the university administration instead of having left the issues to the University administration to handle he ran to call on the military police (southern sector- Gheyiada) to intervene rather than having called the regular Central Equatoria state police to contain the situation.

It was reported that the military police were all Dinka from Aweil; other students of military background got involved and called immediately on the police. Gen. Salva Mathok Gengdit who was the deputy minister of interior brought in special police patrol team and deployed them within and around the campus to contain the security situation.

Ajang, on his part, accused the top administration of the University of having Encouraged Inter-tribal Conflicts. He appealed to the government to remove the then Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Aggrey L. Abate and Prof. Ataib Wani Sule, who was the principal, accusing them of having fuelled the tribal conflicts.

On Tuesday the Vice Chancellor convened an emergency meeting after which he announced, through administrative order number 17/2012, “the closure of the university until further notice”. This order of course continued and lasted for six months. He set up a committee to investigate the root causes of the fight.

After investigation committee was installed by the university administration to investigate the root causes of the problem, Ajang was later on fired from the college of education and students union was suspended for three good years. Abate also ordered all the students to vacate the university campus and hostels where they were accommodated with immediate effect.

The above chronological narration is very much related to the upcoming article as its background and the role played by various figures.

The writer can be reached at: bekchol2017@gmail.com

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

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