KNUST crises not over as govt, UTAG fight over membership of new council

 

While government is insisting that the old council members of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) should not be part of the new one, the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and the Teachers and Education Workers Union (TEWU) at (KNUST) on the other hand have rejected the government’s proposal.

This latest twist, Today understands, was the reason the swearing-in ceremony for the new council was postponed last week Friday.

It emerged that the government insisted that it would not present its nominees for the new council to be inaugurated until the other representing unions change their nominees.

But the KNUST-Chapter of UTAG said the government’s demand was surprising, especially as both parties had earlier agreed that it was impossible for the government to dictate to them whom to bring onto the council.

The government, after a high-level meeting with the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, who is also the Chancellor of KNUST, agreed that all representing groups on the KNUST governing council would present their nominees for a new governing council to be inaugurated on Friday, November 2, 2018 but that could not happen.

But, according to the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the government’s decision was to ensure that the brouhaha that caused the university to be shut down was fully settled.

The old council, he said, was part of the impasse, adding “Just as the actions of students, student’s leaders and school management will be subjects of the full investigation when the university is re-opened, so will the actions and inactions of the old council be subject of that investigation.”

 

Speaking at a press briefing in Accra yesterday, he said specific persons who constituted that council “cannot preside over the matters in which their own decisions and conduct will be a subject.”

“It is in this spirit that government and some other groups have already indicated new nominees,” he said.

In the matter of group seats on council, Mr Nkrumah said KNUST Act required representatives from groups, indicating that it did not ask for specific individuals and that the government was not interested in deciding which specific individuals nominated.

“The principles of specific persons who will end up becoming judges in their own cause is what government disagrees with. It is precisely to resolve this disagreement that the chancellor is taking leadership in engaging with all nominating groups,” he said.

Though the interim council was given up to three months, Mr Nkrumah said the government’s subsequent assessment was that it could hand over the university and all emergency measures taken to a new council, earlier than expected, “if one is agreed upon and inaugurated as soon as possible”.

“Government has indicated its new members for the KNUST council. It is our understanding that two other groups (CHASS and NCTE) have also done so”, he said.

Mr Nkrumah said it was the expectation of the government that once the office of the chancellor received the full complement of names, the office would refer them to the appointing authority, the president, for the next step.

“Next steps are council of state approval and final inauguration by the appointing authority,” he said.

On October 22, this year, there was an outbreak of violence and destruction of property following a demonstration of students of KNUST campus in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region.

Following that, the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC) took a decision to shut down the university and also imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the university campus.

The students, who went on a peaceful demonstration against the ‘tyrannical’ style of the university administration, turned violent, leading to the massive destruction of property worth about Ghc1.7million.

The demonstration was also intended to express grave concern over the use of force by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kwasi Obiri Danso, to cow them into submission.

Before the demonstration, 11 students of the University Hall (Katanga) who had participated in the usual entertainment programme (otherwise called moral session) of the hall on Friday, October 19 were allegedly brutalised and arrested by the university’s internal security men and handed over to the KNUST Police Station, where they were detained.

Moral sessions are processions of students, usually on campus, amid singing and dancing, and are very common with the all-male halls of residence.

 

Story: Atta KWAKU BOADI

Writer’s email: kwaku.boadi@todaygh.com

 

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