THE NDC MINORITY STATEMENT ON THE UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION, WINNEBA IMPASSE*
THE NDC MINORITY STATEMENT ON THE UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION, WINNEBA IMPASSE*
The NDC Minority in Parliament is deeply worried about recent development on the main campus of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), which culminated into the closure of the University on 14th March 2019, to the detriment of students.
Our worry is further informed by the entrenched positions adopted by the University Council on the one hand and the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) – UEW local chapter and National, who appear to have the support of the students of UEW on the other. We believe the current debacle, as a matter of urgency, must be resolved to allow normalcy to return to UEW, a requirement for effective teaching and learning.
For purposes of chronology and clarity, it is important we provide a brief background to the current impasse:
On March 7, 2019 the Governing Council of UEW met and instituted disciplinary actions against three lecturers after what it claimed were adverse findings against them;
On March 12, 2019 students (of the affected lecturers) began agitating in reaction to news that their lecturers had been dismissed unfairly by the University Council;
On March 14, 2019 the Central Regional Coordinating Council closed down the UEW following a full-fledged student demonstration;
On March 19, 2019 the UEW local chapter of UTAG petitioned the University Council to reinstate all the 23 sacked staff and lecturers on the basis of information conveyed to them by government ministers of Education and two NPP MPs to the effect that a truce had been reached. To the contrary , the Council arranged a press conference at which it justified its stance and affirmed its position;
And on March 26, 2019, UTAG national held a press conference making a number of demands including the reinstatement of the dismissed lecturers and staff, and the resignation of the Council Chair and the Vice Chancellor.
Having followed the development as enumerated above and pronouncements by the feuding parties, we cannot but conclude that the best road to normalcy as far as UEW is concerned, is the resignation and or removal of the Council Chair and Vice Chancellor.
It is our view that these two persons have their personal interest above due process, the interest of students and the institution they have been assigned to manage. The conduct of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Afful – Broni and the Council Chair, Associate Prof. Emmanuel NicholasAbakah as per reliable information available to us and in the public space, do not only fly in the face of the statutes of the very same institution they have failed to manage, but border on criminality and plain corruption: unjustified dismissals, questionable appointments, dubious promotions, and compensation budget overruns.
We invite well-meaning Ghanaians to consider the basic reasons given for the dismissal of the three lecturers which led to the student revolt, necessitating the closure of UEW:
1) Dr. Frimpong Kaakyire Duku was dismissed for choosing to go to Court to seek redress on happenings on the UEW campus and alleged misconduct for failing to appear before a disciplinary committee. Information available indicates that to the contrary, he had provided a letter via his lawyers to the effect that he had a Court appearance on the said day. Dr. Duku was also accused of taking UEW to Court. Is there a law that prohibits him from seeking on matters related to UEW?
2) Dr. Emmanuel Osei Sarpong was dismissed for purportedly walking out on the Council Chairman and other members of the Governing Council during a meeting. This was interpreted as disrespecting the Council and its Chair. Since when did it become a crime for one to rescue him/herself from a discussion or voting at a meeting?
3) Pro. Avea Nsor was dismissed for expressing his thoughts about the conflict that ensued at UEW. Does one’s membership of an institution take away his/her right to express concern about matters detrimental to the wellbeing of that institution?
Unimpeachable accounts indicate that the Vice Chancellor and Council Chair have both lost credibility and indeed, no longer have the capacity or moral standing to lead the UEW. Consequently, their presence in the current positions they occupy is and will remain the greatest obstacle to the resolution of the UEW impasse.
Indeed, the current situation on the UEW campus is intricately linked to the current Vice Chancellor, Prof. Afful-Broni, appointed by the current Governing Council, which wrongfully dismissed Prof. Mawutor Avoke following allegations levelled against him by Hon. Afenyo Markin (MP for Effutu) who has astonishingly confessed that the current Vice Chancellor plotted the dismissal of Prof. Mawutor Avoke his predecessor.
Furthermore, we have cited a letter dated 13th December 2018 from the Controller and Accountant General indicating a budget overrun for compensation (honorarium) in the sum of GHS 5.3 million. This is just one among other allegations made against Prof. Mawutor Avoke, his predecessor, and giving same appointments to people he deems loyal to himself.
Undoubtedly, Prof. Afful-Broni is personally responsible for the negative developments on the UEW campus and therefore cannot be part of the solution.
Unfortunately, the posture and conduct of the Chair of the University Council, appointed by the Akufo-Addo government has not been helpful. It was the hope and expectation of many that the UEW Council Chair, Associate Prof. Emmanuel Nicholas Abakah, would have led the effort towards peace and reconciliation. However, in our estimation, he failed. He seems to have rather used his position for personal gain. This may account for why he overlooked breaches of the university statutes and in some instances directly breached them himself as Council Chair.
The process and procedure by which Associate Prof. Emmanuel Nicholas Abakah, a retired Associate Professor and Council Chair, got promoted to full Professorship is most questionable. How can a man who retired in 2014 from the University at the rank of an Associate Professor be promoted in 2019 to a full Professor?
Is it not curious that under a Governing Council that Prof. Abakah chairs, the rules were changed to enable him to be promoted with retrospective effect even after about five years of his retirement? Is this not a matter of conflict of interest; a promotion backdated to 19th December, 2013 with full salary and emoluments?
Many now believe that Associate Prof. Emmanuel Nicholas Abakah has connived with the Vice Chancellor to undermine the tenets of higher education and damage the image of UEW leading to the current quagmire. It is obvious that the Council Chair is part of the problem and cannot be the one to solve it.
On the basis of the forgoing, we the Minority in the Parliament of Ghana call for:
1. The resignation of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Afful Broni , for his incompetence , abuse of office , corruption ,spiteful insolence and inability to resolve the current impasse he birthed and nurtured.
2. An investigation by EOCO and the office of the Special Prosecutor into the several allegations levelled against Prof. Afful-Broni, the Vice Chancellor.
3. The recall and reassignment of Rev. Fr. Prof. Afful-Broni by the Pope, the Head of the Catholic Church, to save the church from further embarrassment.
4. The removal of Associate Prof. N. Abakah as Council Chair by H.E. Nana Addo for his failure to uphold the university statutes and superintending over questionable processes leading to his backdated promotion.
5. The reinstatement of Prof. Mawuse Avoke as the substantive Vice Chancellor of the University of Education in view of the fact that EOCO has cleared him of all the false allegations levelled against him.
We recognise that the NPP Government may be embarrassed by the current unfortunate situation at UEW, because its actions, overt and covert, assisted the fermentation of the impasse. Even so, we believe government has a responsibility to the students of the UEW to do the needful. Inaction will only entrench the embarrassment.
The Minority is of the view that, the consistent interference of the NPP Government in the administration of our tertiary institutions is the cause of the academic unrest we witness in these institutions, such as the University of Education, Winneba and others such as Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology as well as some Technical Universities.
We demand that the Akufo-Addo Government departs from this inglorious path of interference and assault on academic freedom as enshrined in Article 21 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
Higher education in Ghana has hitherto been celebrated for its enviable stability, excellence and the adherence to the principles of academic freedom and institutional autonomy, therefore, as a matter of urgency, this government should return higher education to its glorious days.
*Peter Nortsu-Kotoe* (MP) Ranking Member, Committee on Education
Source: Koowaa.com/Kwame Baffoe Agyekum