ANALYSIS: FBC Election: Alfred Sesay vs. Salamatu Kakay

Salamatu Kakay, the White candidate

By Alfred Koroma

So let glance a bit at student politics as race to replace the first female president of the Fourah Bay College (FBC) Student Union Government is expected to take place this week.

Another female candidate, Salamatu Kakay is set to take on Alfred M Sesay, Education Minister of the outgoing government. Both candidates are students of the law Department.

FBC student union election is often tensely contested by two broad influential groups: the Black Family and the White Family. Both groups have various social clubs associated with them on campus.

The Black Family currently runs the students government having won the last two elections.

Presidential candidate, Alfred Micah Sesay is representing the ruling Black Family in the next election.  In an interview on SLBC last week he described himself as the most experienced candidate for student leadership.

Indeed, Sesay has been in student union politics for a while. As earlier as SSS 1, he served as a school prefect and later rose to the rank of Assistant Senior Prefect. He was Vice- President for Linguistics at the Department of Language studies and also served as student representative to the university senate.

Sesay is a comfortable public speaker who won many debating competitions during his high school education, eventually becoming President of the Literal and debating society for is school. He continued with that skill to the Sierra Leone debating Council where he served as Secretary-General and President.

But despite his experience, he is part of the outgoing SU Government accused of failing to properly handle the dumpsite issue of the campus. They promised to solve the college’s decades old transportation struggle before their term of comes to end, yet another election is here and that has not been fully materialized. 

Alfred Sesay is campaigning on students’ welfare mandate with a promise to first seek the academic welfare of every student, working closely with the Academic Staff Association.

Taking on Sesay for the students’ top job on campus is Salamatu Kakay, candidate for the White Family. If she is successful, she could be the second female president for the over 190-year old college.

In their interview at the state broadcaster, Kakay said she has the realistic solutions to the college’s varied problems.  Like Alfred, Kakay has also been in students’ leadership, having served as a head girl during her high school education. She currently holds an executive position in the Law Society students’ body.

In a college deeply divided along the lines of Black and White phenomena, the female candidate has inclusion at the heart of her campaign. She is campaigning on the promise to address the issues of transportation, missing grades and late publication of grades. 

Kakay lives in the hostels and at the back of her building, is a dump site which seems very much annoying to her. She has promised to address all those issues and improve security and water supply on the campus.

But it is not clear how she intends to solve all those issues. In times of experience, Alfred Sesay has handled more students’ issues in Fourah Bay College than she.   

Everything about students’ union leadership is fundamentally centered on advocating and lobbying on behalf of the general students membership, skills that both candidates are expected to have possessed from an early experience in advocacy.

Both Sesay and Kakay have a historic background of being members of a renowned child advocacy organization, Children’s Forum Network (CFN) and have held executive position in the organization. However, Kakay lost an election to become the national vice president for CFN and later served as presidential spokesperson of the organization.

 At the crux of the coming election, is an underlying fate of Diploma two Students direct transition to degree courses.

Before now, students need only four credits in WASSCE including English Language to be admitted for diploma programs at Fourah Bay College and that allows them to automatically transition from Diploma two straight to degree courses without the obnoxious five credits requirement for students to enroll for degree programs. 

The College administration is definitely working to put an end to that system. As Education Minister, Alfred Sesay was able to advocate for last year’s diploma two students to proceed to degree programs, but from the view of things, he might not be able to do so in the next academic year.

The university administration has planned to move all diploma students from the college to various school campuses around the country. With this, they would be allowed to enter the College for degree programs only with their complete WASSCE requirement.  This is an issue diploma students are hoping that their next government to handle in their favour.

Unlike other campuses, FBC students’ politics is heavily influenced by national politics. In fact, both the Black and White groups came into existence base on tight political motivation.

As to which Family wins election is often influenced by the party in governance in the national politics, making the students politics strain and mostly marred by violence.

It is expected to be a tight race, as usual. However, the Black Family has won the last two elections. Signs of them remaining in office are popping. But whoever wins has a complex issue to handle with the Diploma Students.