The Minister for Education, Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, has met the feuding factions in the brawl at the University for Education Winneba (UEW) in what many suspect, is a clever attempt to sweep the financial malfeasance and maladministration going on in the school.
The meeting which took place last Friday, had the beleaguered Vice Chancellor, Rev. Fr. Prof. Anthony Afful-Broni, the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Efutu Constituency in the Central Region, Alexander Afenyo Markin, the MP for the Assin Central Constituency, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong and the chairman of the governing council of the University among others in attendance.
Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, took to his facebook wall to announce the meeting, saying; “The recent erratic palpitations at the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) was becoming a source of worry to many stakeholders and the Ministry of Education”.
He explained that “I decided to invite the Vice Chancellor of the university, Rev. Prof. Afful-Broni, the chairman of UEW’s council, Prof. Emmanuel Nicholas Abakah, the Member of Parliament for Winneba, Hon Alexander Afenyo-Markin, some other staffers of UEW and concerned members of the community for a meeting to address the situation that was threatening the stability of peace at UEW”.
He disclosed that “Differences were addressed and settled with an agreement to collaborate in addressing issues that affect stakeholders directly and indirectly” adding “I hope this new found understanding will serve as a bedrock for peaceful deliberations and relations henceforth and that peace in the university be prioritized in all their dealings”.
The main reason for meeting the stakeholders was to find a solution to the impasse that has engulfed the University leading to its closure by the Central Regional Security Council (REGSEC) under the leadership of the Regional Minister, Kwamena Duncan.
Students and lecturers of the University have been up in arms against the Vice Chancellor for what they say is the victimization of some lecturers and staff of the University.
They accuse Rev. Fr. Prof. Anthony Afful-Broni of firing more than 30 lecturers and staff within the one year that has been in office.
He has also been accused of awarding dubious contracts and making fraudulent payments to some contractors without recourse to laid down procedures.
The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and the Member of Parliament for Efutu together with students and lecturers of the University have called for the immediate resignation of the Vice Chancellor, arguing that he has proven that he cannot unite the University.
The meeting, held on Friday, March 15 2019 saw the Minister intervene in the matter and called for cool heads to prevail and for the University to return to normalcy.
It however remains unclear when the school will be reopened for academic work to continue.
The Afful-Broni-led management, had also accused Mr Afenyo-Markin, of bussing hoodlums to the school to oust VC.
The school’s management, had also accused the lawyer and politician, of interfering in the affairs of the University to the extent of ordering management to increase fees of students for his personal use, and called on the government to send a crack team of investigators from the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to the University for proper investigation.
Mr Alhassan Bawa, whom the MP, had earlier accused of been hired by the Vice Chancellor to attack him on social media platforms, demanded the Akufo-Addo government, dispatch the BNI and CID investigators to the University and find things for themselves.
“To me the best way out is to send the BNI, and the CID. They should come to the ground and actually carry out proper investigation, as to what is happening. Most of the demonstrators, are not students, they are town boys who he bused in there for them to carry out the demonstration they are his boys”.
The Central Regional Minister, Kwamena Duncan, has since announced that on the advice of the Reginal Security Council, the school has been closed down indefinitely.
This was after demonstrating students clashed with the Police, amidst the firing of warning shots and tear gas, in a bid to push back the protestors, who had since last week Tuesday been demanding the reinstatement of some dismissed lecturers.
At least 10 people, were reported as having suffered varied degrees of injuries and currently receiving treatment at the university campus clinic, according to one of the students who witnessed the incident. A five months old pregnant woman was reported to have collapsed, after the firing of tear gas.
According to Alhassan Bawa, who is a lecturer and in the camp of the under fire Vice-Chancellor, before the current rancor, the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP, tried without success to persuade the Afful-Broni-led management, to charge students additional GHc10 as part of their fees.
He said, the University refused the MP’s request because it felt it was wrong and also reminded him the right to increase University fees is by the Parliament which he is a member.
He claimed that Mr Afenyo-Markin, has been pushing his self-interest on the management which is to have portions of the University’s funds, and this has been resisted by authorities leading to his public outburst and the unending impasse.
“He wants the money of the university it is as simple as that. He is after the money of the university. He even proposed that GHc10 each to be put on students fees he made a proposal like that so that it will come to him for him to use for whatever he wants to use it for and the university refused it.
So many other demands which does not augur well for example that GHc10 he asked to be put on students fees, the university has no authority.
It does not have the power to just decide on fees it has to go to Parliament for approval that is why for the past three years or so, the university has not increased fees because Parliament has not given approval and you an MP who is supposed to have the interest of the Ghanaians at heart, a legislator to look after this country, you are saying that they should put GHc10 on students fees.
I wish he was here so that we go head to head. I know he will deny this but he asked for it, he asked the university management to do that which is wrong. It is money and nothing else that he is after that is why he is causing all this chaos”.
Alhassan Bawa, who has also fallen out with the MP, said the woes of the university, have to be blamed squarely on the politician, who has been meddling endlessly in the affairs of the institution.
Speaking on Joy New’s PM Express last Wednesday, the lecturer questioned why the lawmaker, would constantly poke his nose into the day to day running of the University, as though he is the only parliamentarian, who has an institution in his Constituency.
He also claimed most of the students, who demonstrated asking for the reinstatement of sacked teaching and nonteaching staff, are town folks, who are not members of the students’ body, but were bused by the MP, to cause mayhem on campus.His claim was corroborated by the acting Students Representative Council (SRC) President, Issa Akulugu, who was also on the show.
The MP, was billed to be on the same programme, but at the latter part of the evening, opted out for unknown reason. Mr Bawa, dared him, to challenge him on his accusation against the MP, as there is ample evidence to expose him.He charged, “He is the brain behind everything. We have evidence that, he is the one who is perpetuating all these.
He further accused the leadership of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) led by Dr Eric Opoku, as “not credible” for allegedly holding a meeting with the MP and pocketing money to support him and also demand the resignation of Prof Afful-Broni and recall of the sacked lecturers.
“They went and had their meeting with Afenyo-Markin, who is now their financier, whatever they did with him only God knows, but very soon, it will come out, because, as soon as the meeting ended that evening, the following morning, UTAC issued a statement calling for the resignation of the VC which clearly shows that there was under hand dealings. My question to UTAG is what wrong has the VC done?
Dr. Opoku, who was called into the programme debunked the allegations, saying he has an image to protect and so will not descend into the gutters with Mr Bawa, adding “We think that what is going on at the UEW campus is further deepen the polarization and it’s not going to unite it” He noted. He maintained UTAG, still stands on it call to the VC to resign for peace to prevail.