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General News of Saturday, 12 October 2013

Source: radioxyzonline

Rawlings finally dons his UDS crown

Former President Jerry Rawlings’ once botched University of Development Studies honorary Doctorate will finally be conferred on him Saturday, October 12, 2013.

A statue has also been built in his honour at the University’s Dungu campus in the Northern regional capital, Tamale.

Rawlings made a personal donation to the establishment of the University in 1993 but an honorary award to recognise his efforts during the Kufuor administration got botched.

President John Mahama, on April 25 this year, described as an “unfortunate political intrusion”, the former Kufuor Administration’s alleged scuttling of the conferment of the honorary Doctorate award on Rawlings by the Governing Council of the University.

The award was meant to recognise Mr. Rawlings’ personal contributions toward the establishment and growth of the University.

President Mahama, who addressed UDS’ Special Congregation on Thursday April 25, 2013 to mark the 20th Anniversary of the school in the Northern regional capital Tamale said: “I am happy to note that steps are being taken by the Authorities of this University to appropriately recognise his efforts and thereby rectify the unfortunate political intrusion that prevented his being honoured by this institution some years ago”.

Mr. Mahama extolled Mr Rawlings’ personal donation of money to the University’s growth during its infancy.

He said: “…[Mr. Rawlings] also donated money given to him from an award he won for leadership to be used for provision of some basic facilities for this Institution”.

The President also praised Rawlings’ “vision and untiring efforts” toward the establishment of the University.

The intended conferment of the award on Rawlings in 2005 was allegedly thwarted by some elements in the former Kufuor Administration with the purported collusion of the Chairman of the University Council, Mr. Daniel Kofi Charles Gyimah, who, at the time, admitted that the decision was a collective UDS Council decision but yet, according to critics, unilaterally canceled the event upon the receipt of opposing petitions from anonymous groups of students and lecturers.

The botched award ceremony generated a huge storm of controversy in the country to the extent that Dr. Abubakr Alhassan, a member of the Professor George Benneh Committee on the Establishment of the University of the North - the original name of the University - and Chairman of its Sub-Committee on Physical Facilities, came out to fiercely declare support for the conferment of the award.

At the time, Dr Alhassan told Journalists at a press conference at the Tamale Centre for National Culture on Tuesday March 22, 2005 that Rawlings deserved to be fully recognised for his extraordinary contribution toward the establishment of the University.

He also recalled that when the idea of establishing the UDS began receiving serious official consideration, some obstructionists complained about scarce national resources and argued for any available resources to be applied to the then existing Universities in the south.

Dr Alhassan said he therefore found it appalling that “crude attempts were made to mar an occasion in which a young University wants to show its appreciation to someone who contributed so much to its founding”.

He condemned the attempts by the then Chairman of the University Council, Mr. Daniel Kofi Charles Gyimah, to cancel the award ceremony and described his excuses for doing so as “flimsy and totally untenable”.

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