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Opinions of Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Columnist: Al-Hajj

Building of strong institutions…Legon shows way

-and must be emulated

When American President, Barack Hussein Obama on his maiden and historic visit to the country told Ghana’s Parliament that the nation stands to benefit a great deal when we build strong institutions instead of strong leaders, the applauds was thunderous and deafening.

It wasn’t the parliamentarians alone that praised the American President for what has since become a cliché and reference point for many commentators; Indeed, Ghanaians in all spheres joined the MPs to salute the most powerful leader of the world because his statement was not only true, but it is also in the national interest.

However, whether Ghanaians having accepted it are also leaving up to this ideal and laudable tenet is subject for another debate.

It is against this backdrop that The Al-Hajj would like to commend one state institution blazing the trail to give practical meaning to President Obama’s profound call.

Not only have authorities at the University of Ghana, Legon, shown the way for state institutions to wean themselves of needless intrusion and subtle governmental control, the nation’s premier university has also proved to other agencies of state that, ‘Ghana can work again’.

This was when managers of the facility damned government, and ‘ugly noise’ from the public to implement a move they believed was in the best and supreme interest of the university.

By this bold and courageous stand of the university, The Al-Hajj wishes to applaud the Chancellor of the university, Council Chair and members, vice Chancellor, Academic and the Executive Boards, Registrar and the entire university community including students for heeding to the US President’s call, in giving meaning to the building of strong institutions of state.

The perceptive posturing and uncompromising stands by the authorities of University Ghana in their quest on how best to regulate the flow of traffic in-and-out of the facility, which met strong resistance from some motorists including an organ of state (National Security), and we dare add; even the government, is something that needs to be commended and which must be emulated by other state agencies in order to move Ghana to where it belongs.

In commending the administrators for their steadfastness, mention must also be made of the President, John Dramani Mahama and his government for presiding over the country at this time, when state institutions are beginning to assert themselves even if it is to the chagrin of some hardliners in government and party extremists.

Whiles it could be said the Mahama administration wasn’t initially enthused over the actions by the university authorities, and there are classical examples across the African continent and developing world in general of how governments, or Presidents under such circumstances would have resorted to the use of brute force and state power to intimidate and or, cow state institutions into submission, President Mahama’s government avoided that, at least up until now.

Although The Al-Hajj firmly believes the Act establishing University of Ghana allows the authorities to do what they are doing, including the tolling of its roads, we will not pass verdict on the matter until the courts make a determination of the matter.

In much the same way, Ghana’s judiciary over sometime now remains one state institution that overtime, has progressively weaned itself from governmental control and is now affirming its independence. Yet, in spite of the exemplary role of the Judiciary, not all judgments of the courts are fully appreciated by Ghanaians, however; being a nation dedicated to the upholding the rule of law, we are bounded by the judgments.

Like the judiciary, not everybody will be happy or, accept all the decisions of UG authorities, the tolling of the roads and regulating vehicular movement within its premises not excluded, yet still; we are compelled to abide by them whether we deemed those decisions right or wrong until otherwise directed.

The Al-Hajj is not unaware, how some hardline government officials and NDC fanatics are exerting pressure on the President and government to ‘invoke’ its executive powers to deal with the situation at the UG. We dare caution the President and his government not to take to that path of recklessness, as it will in end court more troubles for government on the educational front.

Government must be mindful that the issue at Legon is not just about UG alone, it is real test case for government and it must not be stampeded into doing something it will leave to regret in the long run.

The Al-Hajj urges UG authorities to remain steadfast in protecting the legacy left behind by pioneers of that enviable institution as it remains the foremost and indeed, the oldest state institution of higher learning which must be jealously guarded and protected.

Ghana cannot continue with the bastardization of institutions of state every now and then leading to the collapse of many state-owned institutions.

The paper calls on Ghanaians to support state institutions and in this case, UG as it continues to stand for what it believes is right. There shouldn’t be victor or vanquished in this matter in end.

If today the country cannot instill discipline amongst its citizens and make sure the right things are done, what legacies are we leaving for generations yet unborn?

It is in this lightThe Al-Hajj salutes and will continue to salute UG authorities for beginning the process for state institutions to work. We say Ayekoo!

We call on all state institutions, including the police; military, utility services among others to emulate UG. Ghana can work, and nation Ghana, must work.