Minority blames govt for KNUST impasse

Mr Haruna Iddrisu (middle) addressing the press conference.Those with him are Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka(right) and Mr Okudjato Ablakwa.

Mr Haruna Iddrisu (middle) addressing the press conference.Those with him are Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka(right) and Mr Okudjato Ablakwa.

THE Minority in Parliament is blaming President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the disruption of academic activities at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), accusing him of attempting to use the Vice Chancellor of the university as a scapegoat.

 

In the view of the opposition lawmakers, President Akufo-Addo cannot absolve himself from the ongoing impasse which has led to a shutdown of the Kumasi based university.

 

“It is he (President Akufo-Addo) 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,” the caucus said at a press conference in Accra yesterday.

 

Mounting tensions between the student body and management of the KNUST reached a pinnacle last week when the students poured on the streets of the school in a peaceful protest which ended violently as public and personal properties were vandalised in the process.

 

The violent protest led to the dissolution of the KNUST Governing Council as a further directive asked the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor KwesiObiri-Danso, to “step aside.”

 

Declaring their support for the embattled Vice Chancellor, various associations in the university including the University Teachers Association, the Teachers and Educational Workers Union, the Federation of University Senior Staff Association of Ghana, among others, who all said the dissolution of the Council was illegal, have declared indefinite strikes in solidarity of Professor Danso.

 

“We decry the attempt to make a scapegoat of the Vice Chancellor Prof. Kwesi Obiri-Danso and hold him solely responsible for the current crisis. This act by government is the highest form of dishonesty, cowardice and bad faith,” Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu told journalists in Parliament.

 

Giving their full support to Professor Obiri-Danso administration, Mr Iddrisu said the conversion of two male halls at the university to mixed halls, the decision which culminated in the impasse, was hailed by the Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh and the Minister of State for Tertiary Education, Prof. Kwesi Yankah.

 

“If Prof. Kwesi Obiri-Danso must be removed because of this policy and its implementation, then it stands to reason that the two Ministers of Education….who publicly endorsed the policy, supervised, championed and praised its implementation should resign or be fired with immediate effect,” Mr Iddrisu stated.

 

According to the Tamale South lawmaker, the impasse which has now spiralled “out of control” was a failure of leadership by government and a reflection of the “super incompetence that has characterised the Akufo-Addo Administration.”

 

In their observation, it was becoming a consistent pattern by 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,” the caucus noted, adding that it 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.”

 

The minority, it leaders said 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.

 

It is for this reason that it has declared its full support and expressed its “unflinching solidarity for the striking and demonstrating unions at KNUST and beyond” and demanded the immediate reconstitution of the dissolved Council.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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