Ayuk Akoh- Arrey, SOBA UK president-elect and candidate of “steel and agility” now has two years to implement his “growth agenda” following his victory in the first ever democratic elections in the chapter. Akoh- Arrey easily beat his only challenger Francis Bobdinga Ngwe who stood for change for the coveted position following the last minute withdrawal from the race by former president Francis Shupo. A very passionate Soban, Shupo was SOBA UK president for the last ten years and stunned everyone when he performed a dramatic u-turn a day before campaign debates for the post of president and vice took place in London.
Announcing his candidacy for his one term presidency before the elections, Akoh- Arrey noted; “I come into this role with a simple message, to provide stability in the running of the organisation, galvanise our Soban brethren and move forward the vision agenda to grow SOBA UK to the next level. I intend to do this for one term only and set the framework to inspire our next generation of leaders to emerge”.
Bobdinga Francis Ngwe quickly conceded defeat in the race for the presidency and in a short congratulatory message to his opponent said; “what we now expect is that the new exco in the spirit of fairness implements some of the changes we proposed and make SOBA UK a more energetic and all embracing organization”. In typical American style politicking, Bobdinga called Ako Arrey to congratulate him pledging his support for the newly elected exco he will head.
Bime Lafon was voted Vice president after a very energetic campaign against his opponent Edwin Ngwafor who brought some flair and flamboyancy to the campaigning and was the only candidate who produced an electoral video to support his candidacy. Not surprisingly, his opponent picked holes in the video! Though there were fourteen surprise abstentions, John Bawak was voted new Secretary General and replaces Bime Lafon who like Ako Arrey, also “upgraded” his candidacy to that of Vice president. There were three abstentions as Batey Tako was retained as Financial Secretary. He was the lone candidate.
The new executive will somehow need to fill the vacant post of treasurer after nobody stood for the position when Ako Arrey upgraded his candidacy from treasurer to president following the surprise withdrawal from the race by outgoing president Shupo Francis.
Campaigning for the elections done mostly on the groups email forum, telephone calls and fliers was heated and at one point almost degenerated into acrimony. Some former students of Sasse College, some who were not even registered SOBA UK members had to step in and call for calm. Candidates used smoky barbecue pictures, a video and every means available to garner votes. For the first time, some Sobans who had never had any interest in the organization stepped in and contributed in making the debates lively, entertaining and engaging. One member noted the electioneering had set standards for other ex student associations to follow since Sasse College, the oldest college in Cameroon always sets gold standards. The winning “continuity” team benefited from a well oiled campaign machinery and votes from mostly young Sobans.
Joki Manga, SOBA vice president general for Europe was circumspect in his reaction after the results were announced when he wrote; “to those who did not make it,you should look at where you went wrong and try next time.I have spoken to them to put all their differences aside and work with the new team for the benefit of SOBA-UK.Elections are now over, this is the time for serious work as we have just a couple of months to the 75th anniversary”.
The three patrons who conducted the elections had to use their infinite wisdom and draw electoral guidelines as the campaigning progressed because they had no blueprint or any terms of reference.. Voting was done by email and all voters also had to post their signed choices to the patrons as backup for their email votes in case any of the candidates decided to challenge the results. They chose this method against BigPulse an e-voting method that the outgoing executive suggested. A statement signed by the patrons Retired Colonel Aloysius Mbako, Sako Burnley and Joseph Foncha noted the high level of participation and the debates they qualified as rich and enlightening.
“While some will rejoice from these results, we all take a keen interest in seeing that the full corporation of all members of SOBA-UK will continue and that we can move on to higher goals and achievements…Regrettably in every contest there is a loser. For these brothers we say, there will be another day”, their joint statement noted.
The patrons will be installing the new executive shortly. Their immediate tasks will include organizing the St Josephs feast day and preparations for the 75th anniversary of the college that takes place in Cameroon in December this year.