The Minority in Parliament has said the whole impasse at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) which had now spiralled out of control was a failure of leadership by the government.
According to the Minority, it was also a reflection of the super incompetence that had characterised the Akufo-Addo administration.
At a press conference in Accra Monday, the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu said a proactive and consultative leadership would have better managed the government’s unpopular policy of the conversion of single sex halls of residence at the KNUST.
In any case, he said the Minority did not believe that of all the issues confronting higher education in Ghana, the conversion of single sex halls should even feature as a priority at this crucial time.
The Minority Leader said the Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh endorsed the hall conversion policy on July 15, 2018 at the 52nd Congregation of KNUST.
Similarly, he said the Minister of State for Tertiary Education, Prof. Kwesi Yankah on September 8, 2018, endorsed the hall conversion policy describing it as the government’s policy and directing other universities to emulate KNUST’s “bold” example.
Therefore, Mr Iddrisu said if Prof. Obiri-Danso must be removed because of the policy and its implementation, then it stood to reason that the two Ministers of Education namely Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh and Prof. Kwesi Yankah who publicly endorsed the policy, supervised, championed and praised its implementation should resign or be fired with immediate effect.
“More fundamentally, the Minority expresses its deep worry for what appears to have become a consistent pattern by the government to invade autonomous tertiary institutions and remove principal officers it did not appoint. This was the case at the University of Education, Winneba, the Ghana Institute of Journalism and the Cape Coast Polytechnic.
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“The Minority would not sit idle and allow this reckless attack on academic freedom and the autonomy of our higher institutions of learning to become the new normal. It is for this reason that we declare our full support and express our unflinching solidarity for the striking and demonstrating unions at KNUST and beyond”, he said and commended UTAG, TEWU, FUSAG, GAUA and VCG for standing up against the government’s decision.
Apologise to Otumfuo
Mr Iddrisu said the government’s knee-jerk reaction had derailed the mediation efforts of the Chancellor, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
He said the government attempted to undermine his authority as Chancellor and disrupt the mediation efforts he had commenced just before the government’s ill-advised intervention and illegal conduct in dissolving the university council.
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“We, therefore, demand that the government apologises to the revered King and Chancellor. Importantly, the government must promptly accede to his demand of reinstating the governing council. If the government so desires, it can change it’s reps on the university council but it cannot proceed to dissolve the entire council by such crude means.
“The Minority must point out at this juncture that we do not absolve President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo from this imbroglio. It is he who directed the Ministry of Education to engage in the unlawful act of dissolving the university council and it is he who refused to act in a timely manner that would have averted this entire predicament.
“We insist that President Akufo-Addo changes course by respecting the Constitution and the laws of Ghana and thereby avoiding the looming shut down of all universities in Ghana”, he said.
Mr Iddrisu said the dissolution of the KNUST council following the demonstration by students was unconstitutional and an invasion of the academic freedom of the university.
He accused the government of victimising the Vice Chancellor of the KNUST, Professor Kwasi Obiri-Danso, on political grounds.
“The government was in a hurry to dissolve the council without recourse to the law. It is a mark of failure of the government and incompetence to do as they please when they should be respecting the law.
“The Minority in Parliament is outraged at the blatant attack on academic freedom and the unbridled assault on the autonomy of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) by the Akufo-Addo led government.
It must be emphasised that the Minority would not accept the erosion of the rule of law and the deliberate undermining of the sacrosanct principles of academic freedom and the independence of higher institutions of learning as enshrined in Articles 21 and 70 of the Constitution of Ghana and the National Council for Tertiary Education Act, 1993, Act 454.
“We would also not tolerate the wanton trampling and disregard of Act 80 as amended and the Statutes of the KNUST”, he said.
Rights of Students
Mr Iddrisu condemned the violation of the rights of students and the brutalities meted out to students exercising their constitutional right to protest.
In like manner, he condemned the violent demonstrations leading to the destruction of private and public property.
“The Minority in Parliament unreservedly and absolutely denounces government’s unlawful conduct in dissolving the council of the university. We demand the immediate reversal of this illegal act.
“We decry the attempt to scapegoat the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Kwasi Obiri-Danso and hold him solely responsible for the current crisis. This act by the government is the highest form of dishonesty, cowardice and bad faith”, he said.
Credit: Enoch Darfah Frimpong