One unfortunate development that could be ‘institutionalised’, if care is not taken, is the wanton interference in the running and management of public Universities in this country by some politicians.
Having enjoyed a fairly good degree of independence since the colonial era, it appears Ghana’s state-owned Universities are now becoming the ‘playgrounds’ of certain political chess players.
Even though the Constitution empowers the President to appoint certain key figures at public universities, the Universities’ Act clearly stresses that the day-to-day running of such institutions is supposed to be done by the Universities Board.
Sadly, however, that is not the case. Some politicians have expressed so much interest in our public universities that, rumour says even the selection of students for local Students Representatives Councils (SRCs) and the National Union Of Ghana Students (NUGS) are remotely being controlled by politicians.
Again, fears are that professional associations like the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), and Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) are at the beck and call of politicians.
From where we stand, we can recall two unfortunate instances that point to this observation.
In the heat of the misunderstanding at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), the National Youth Organiser of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Anthony Nana Boakye, aka Nana B, allegedly took a premature position and called for the head of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Kwasi Obiri-Danso, even before the board decided on the fate of the VC.
“I am very confident that Prof Obiri Danso will soon be history; very, very soon”, he was quoted.
Other NPP gurus, who also took sides in the matter and asked for his removal included the Ashanti Regional NPP Chairman, Bernard Antwi Boasiako, aka Wontumi, and the party’s Brong Ahafo Regional First Vice Chairman, Kwame Baffoe, aka Abronye DC. In the end, the VC was removed against the strong position of the UTAG.
Naturally, the ensuing political conversation was that, these interferences could in the future inspire students in other universities to vandalise property the way the KNUST students did.
And it looks like a vindication of that position in the unending imbroglio at the University of Education, Winneba (UEW).
The Member of Parliament for Efutu, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, is not only being ‘accused’ of playing an instrumental role in the removal of the former Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Mawutor Avoke, but is also being ‘blamed’ for the ongoing unrest on the campus, in which the students rioted had destroyed several vehicles and other public properties.
What seems to be adding insult to injury is the alleged counter information by Hon. Afenyo-Markin, after the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) had ordered the temporary closure of the University.
Additionally, a video currently circulating on social media, in which Hon. Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, Member of Parliament for Assin Central, could be heard threatening a police officer, during the riots at UEW, gives a further credence to the suspicion of political meddling in our universities.
Even though the Police administration had officially ‘cautioned’ Hon. Agyapong over his behaviour, the conversation once again is that the two NPP MPs indirectly bolstered the students of the UEW to defy police orders.
THE PUBLISHER is worried about this seeming political trend in our country’s public universities, and wishes something is done as soon as possible by the powers that be.
And who can do it better than the leadership of the NPP?