Public angry, Govt bares teeth, Parliament punches him
The government through the Ministry of Education, has written to the Chairman of University of Ghana Council, Justice Dr. Samuel Kofi Date-Bah, ordering him to urgently submit a report on the controversy that has engulfed the nation’s premier university, following management’s decision to regulate access to its premises.
The order, dated yesterday, March 18, 2014 and dispatched to the retired Supreme Court Judge, disclosed that “the Ministry has taken note that the matter in issue is creating public disaffection, unease and controversy” adding it is a “matter of national concern”.
The order was signed by a Deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who is in-charge of the Tertiary Education on behalf of the sector Minister, Prof. Jane Nana Opoku-Agyemang.
The Education Ministry’s instruction appears to be in a sharp response to distress calls from parents, students, bank officials and others to President John Mahama to send a clear message to the University to stop what is being described as “acts of lawlessness”, posing as a Republic on its own, instead of a state-funded public institution within a country, called Ghana.
The highly respected retired Supreme Court Judge, was given three and a half days to present his report to Government on the matter.
The Legon authorities, have blocked all of its roads to the public allowing access into the campus only through the Okponglo intersection entrance, whereas persons with highly-priced UG stickers are allowed entry and exit through all access routes.
Yesterday’s letter by the government, portrayed the University, led by its Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey nicknamed “Idi Amin Dada” after the late ex-Ugandan Military dictator, as selective in the laws under which the institution operates, and blatantly disrespecting other aspects, particularly those resolute on accountability to government and the public.
The letter which was entitled “Request For Report” was intercepted by The Herald yesterday.
It explained that the Ministry of Education was demanding the report “pursuant to Section 26 (4) of the University of Ghana Act, 2010 Act 806”, adding “the Hon. Minister expects that the report is submitted latest Friday, 21st March, 2014”.
The Ministry of Education, asked Justice Dr. Date-Bah, to “also note that by the provision of Section 26 (1) (2) and (3), the Council shall submit reports to the Minister and for the Minister, to submit a Report on the same to Parliament, but the Report for 2013 is outstanding and it is expected that it be submitted to the Minister soonest”.
Section 26 of Act 806, which is in the custody of The Herald states that “The Council shall within eight months after the end of each academic year, draw up a report to the Minister covering the activities of the University for the year to which the report relates to make that report available to the public”.
Section 26 (2) of the law explained that “the report shall cover the operations, admissions, sources, use of funds, challenges, significant events and major policies of the University and shall include the report of Auditor-General for the year to which the report relates”.
While Section 26 (3) noted that “the Minister shall within one month after the receipt of the annual report, submit the report to Parliament with a statement that the Minister considers necessary”, Section 26 (4) insists that “the Council shall also submit to the Minister any other reports which the Minister may require in writing”.
Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Asawase in the Ashanti Region, Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, has accused the University of Ghana Council of abusing Section 3 of the University of Ghana Act.
According to the MP, the management of the University are misusing the Section 3 provision to extort money from commuters, who wish to use the road networks within the university.
He said this when some MPs questioned the University of Ghana’s decision to close some of its roads to the public on the floor.
Citi News’ Parliamentary correspondent, Richard Dela Sky reported that the Majority Chief Whip was one of those persons who spoke against the Section 3 of University of Ghana Act which according to him, if enforced strictly will likely cause problems.
In an interview on the Citi Prime News, the Asawase MP recalled that in 2010, when he called for the deletion of the Section from the Act, he faced strict opposition from colleague MPs.
He expressed happiness that his fears about four years ago over the Act have been confirmed with the ongoing matters with the university over the use of its roads.
Alhaji Muntaka, also said he is satisfied the Speaker of Parliament “has referred the thing to the leadership, to the Minister of Education and Roads.”
According to him, he will plead with the Minister of Education to bring back the University of Ghana Act to Parliament for further scrutiny.
MPs also called for an immediate end to the stand-off between the authorities of the University of Ghana, Legon and the general public, over the closure of the university roads.
One question that has remained on the lips of the public in the midst of the Legon brouhaha is, if President Mahama will ever seize the opportunity to make any statement to end the wanton disregard of laws in the country, adding this lawlessness and abuse of power could not happen under ex-President Jerry John Rawlings.
On the marching orders of the Vice Chancellor Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, security men dressed in military-like uniforms last Saturday blocked all access roads into the nation’s premier university, preventing all vehicles from using the roads, aside those with a specialized sticker priced at GH400 (4 million) annually with “UG” written on them.
What many are yet to come to terms with in the wake of the incident at Legon is how President Mahama, who appointed the chairman of the University’s Council will refuse to summon him to explain why the University will in recent past act like it is a Republic on its own.
According to reports, the unprecedented traffic that have been recorded since the blocking of the roads, especially on Monday and Tuesday might have cost the country millions of money as workers, traders and students stayed in the traffic for hours delaying their daily activities.
Some distressed parents who called into some radio stations especially Citi FM, called for the immediate removal of Prof Aryeetey. They contend that the unacceptable orders of Prof. Aryeetey have over burdened them and all users of the roads especially in these stressful times in the country.
In desperation, parents who claimed they stayed in the traffic for hours just to drop their wards in University Primary School owned and managed by the school, called for the intervention of National Security Coordinator, Col. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey to organize his men to reverse the situation immediately as he did recently by clearing the so-called tollbooths.
They regretted the unrepentant stance of Prof. Aryeetey and pleaded that Col. Gbevlo-Lartey speaks the language Prof. Aryeetey understands, since he seems to have arrogated to himself powers he does not have.
Speaking on Radio Gold yesterday, MP for Madina-Abokobi in the Greater Accra Region, Alhaji Amadu Sorogho, recounted how he was turned away by the security men who he claimed even identified him as an MP, because he had no sticker.
Alhaji Sorogho, who was one of the MPs who amended the University’s laws allowing University to institute such directive, regretted the development, revealing, how his other colleagues who also ply the Legon roads to Parliament were also denied access.
The MP said that on Monday he spent over 1:45 minutes before exiting the area. He further revealed how both uniformed Police and Military officers who drove in both private and officials vehicles were also turned away like common criminals.