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Opinions of Sunday, 14 June 2020

Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah

Ghana's vice chancellors: We deserve better!

Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ghana Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ghana

The vice-chancellors (VCs) of ghana’s public universities ought to be made of sterner stuff; they should not act like lightweights.

When they met POTROG at the Jubilee House, Accra, on Thursday, Professor Ebenezer Oduro, Vice-Chancellor of University of Ghana (UG) who was their spokesperson said:

“You gave an order; that was a Presidential order, that Universities should reopen on the 15th of June. I think somewhere last week, some of the media carried news and I am sure probably some may have gotten to you; that some universities have defied the President’s orders and are unwilling to open. Mr. President, let me assure you that that is not the case at all….. All Universities are obliging to reopen and none of us is defying your orders”.

Just three questions…..only three.

What do the respective public university statutes say?

Where are the University Councils?

What ever happened to following the science, data, and evidence?

We live in a country where members of cabinet – the Information Minister and Health Minister, routinely make inaccurate public statements that impact on medical management of the Coronavirus pandemic and our universities remain mute.

This is a country where we are told by Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the Vice President, and his ilk, that, with respect to COVID-19 testing and management, we are among the best in the world, yet it takes three days to get a test result in an erratic system; hospitals are sending patients home to help themselves; and we still have more MPs than ICU beds and or ventilators.

The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) – part of the UG, released a press statement on genome sequencing when the research paper itself was nowhere to be found.

And POTROG gave his 7th Coronavirus address to the nation citing that announcement.

Respectfully, we need cool heads, sober and resolute academics, professionals and administrators who understand how to operate in a modern, progressive and secular environment.

What we do not need and it has never helped us is those with an AHENFIE MENTALITY.

On March 12, ghana reported its first two Coronavirus cases.

By June 12, that is, within three months, we had crossed 10K cases with apologists telling us we should focus on the active cases, but not telling us what our R0 is, nor our k number at any point in time.

And if any educated Ghanaian at this time does not know what these numbers stand for and their importance, then it shows you how well we as a country have been following the science.

Ghana is the only country in the world, ready to open up campuses when our figures are rising exponentially!

What a country! Almost everywhere you turn – mediocrity.

It is in times like this that scholars, seekers after truth, are expected to offer mankind light to guide us out of our palpable darkness.

Where are our bona fide scholars who can hold their own against populist rhetoric from politicians, hacks and claims from researchers which have not been subjected to peer review?

We need to constantly remind ourselves that science is based on doubt.

In the words of Alexander Pope, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread….No one should be ashamed to admit he is wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”

We cannot help but ask further questions.

Need we remind you, esteemed vice chancellors, that your duty is to our glorious republic, not the president?

You are expected to offer leadership and well-thought-out analyses of all the current happenings in the Ghanaian public space, based of course, on facts, evidence and reason.

And we shall hold you to it without any qualms whatsoever.

Have you not heard nor read anywhere that the “Master-say-so-I-do” alibi was discredited long ago at the Nuremberg Trials following World War II?

How the heck do you call this “discretion”, Professor Oduro?

What happened at the Jubilee House Thursday, was “another day at Mediocrity Central” as my mentor will charge. “In ghana, the term vice chancellor has become a vicious pun”.

Surely, VCs of public universities, we deserve better.

Now let us end it here for now, because yet again, as my mentor has observed about ghana matters, “If you say you will talk/write, they will say you are a bad person”.

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