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Opinions of Monday, 18 December 2017

Columnist: Alhassan Bawah

Legacy of the 'three musketeers' of the University of Education, Winneba

Section 11 of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) Act 2004 (Act 672), provides that, the Principal Officers of the University shall include: the Vice Chancellor (VC); the Pro Vice Chancellor (Pro VC); the Registrar; the Finance Officer (FO); and the Librarian. Three (3) of the above five (5), constituted themselves into a 'Super Principal Officers Alliance', and sidelined the remaining two (2), as a result of disagreement over whether the interest of UEW and for that matter Ghana, should be supreme, or the interest of the Principal Officers. Three (3) of the Principal Officers opted to put their personal interest first before Mother Ghana, and the minority two (2) remaining Principal Officers, thereafter, existed only ceremoniously.

One of the two (2) minority Principal Officers, was presented with Ghc 25,000 before the legal tussle of UEW kicked off. He didn't decline it outright, but just made a reasonable enquiry as to what the said payment was for. The answer he got was that it was his share. Share for what job done, he queried? The rest was silence! He politely told the presenter that he wasn't interested, and was contended with his 'poverty'. I wouldn't bore you with more juicy and seductive offers from the 'three (3) musketeers' that were put before the 'sacrificial duo' (the 2 minority Principal Officers).

Currently, the Ag. VC of UEW, Rev. Fr. Prof. Afful-Broni, who was then the Pro VC, has declined to receive the allowance of VC, but rather choose to continue receiving the allowance of his previous position, thus, the allowance of a Pro VC. If this is not sacrifice, then what else?

When the '3 musketeers' were in office, each of them made sure that they traveled abroad, at least once a month. This was a subtle avenue of siphoning public funds. The per diem for each of these officers on a foreign trip, was US$1,000. Each travel lasted an average of ten (10) days. This translates into short-changing UEW and for that matter the Republic of Ghana, US$30,000 every month on the 3 officials per diem alone on foreign travels. Readers may add the air tickets, hotel accommodation, etc., and draw a conclusion.

Within the week beginning 10th December 2017, the Institute of Educational Development & Extension (IEDE) of UEW, paid a honorarium to all its staff. I don't carry out extra duties at IEDE, so I did not receive this payment. However, a colleague of mine who does extra work at IEDE, received over Ghc 2,000. Almost every 'employee' at IEDE, received this honorarium payment. The Ag. VC administration could have sat on this fund that has been disbursed to all IEDE staff, just like what the '3 musketeers' were doing, but the Catholic Priest administration, choose not to do so. Rev. Fr. Prof. Afful-Broni (the Ag. VC), is not rich, but contended with his legal earnings. Greed is not in his DNA.

I know some staff of IEDE in particular, and UEW in general, who mistakenly believe that they are serving individuals at UEW, and not the State, therefore, since certain individuals are no longer at the helm of affairs of UEW, they will not recognise the authority of the Ag. VC. To such individuals, I urge them to check their payslips for the first time and find out who pays them. To those UEW staff who also look at me in a weird manner, I strongly advise them to go to Satan himself, or Kwaku Bonsam, or Antoa shrine and obtain 'high voltage eyes' and return to Winneba and check me out. Insha Allah, blindness will greet them with glee!

I honestly and sincerely advise the '3 musketeers' supporters who received the IEDE honorarium payment, that it is only reasonable that they hand over that money to the '3 musketeers', since they used to be the ones pocketing that money.

The former UEW UTAG Secretary, who is supposed to know better, but unfortunately has been blinded by greed, left the shores of Ghana on a Fulbright Fellowship, without authorisation from the Ag. VC. Naturally, he should be dismissed from UEW, and the Fulbright Fellowship Secretariat, written to by UEW to disassociate itself from him.

I expect his comrade in arms, the 'foot soldier' he left behind, to move heaven and earth to get him off the hook, but I will advise him not to waste his time. The College Principal who released him, should be the one being held responsible for his salary, or job security, and not the Ag. VC, who played no role in the former UEW UTAG Secretary's total disrespect for authority.

To all UEW staff, be assured that there are better and brighter times ahead. The recent IEDE honorarium payment to all staff, is evidence of this brighter future. Invigilation, excess marking, and all other claim rates, are expected to be adjusted upwards and paid to all claimants, promptly. The era of claims being paid three (3) months after submission, is over.

The '3 musketeers' blind supporters are free to go and hand over the difference between the old rates and the new rates to the '3 musketeers'. This is just basic common sense.

Some readers have complained about the style I use to put my views across. It has to be noted that, every human being has a flaw, and I accept that as my shortcoming. Nowhere in my writings have I stated that am perfect.

I have however tried as much as possible to keep it at 'normal temperature' in this write-up. May God help all of us to overcome our shortcomings, including the '3 musketeers', to overcome their greed, which has unfortunately led to their downfall.

Please, UEW Governing Council Chairman, I wish to apply for the position of Finance Officer, so let the advert out!

I expect them to appeal the High Court, Winneba decision. In law however, if there is a procedural anomaly in the filing of a case against an individual (respondent), the respondent's legal representative (lawyer), is supposed to enter a conditional appearance as provided under the High Court (Civil Procedures) Rules 2004 (CI 47) Order 9, Rule 7, and raise the defective procedural issue, and do no more. This will be a 'technical knockout'.

Failure of the respondent's lawyer to do this means that he has tacitly agreed that there was no procedural defect (s). The respondent on appeal after loosing the first instance case where the procedural defect was not raised, will only be wasting the court's and everyone connected to the case time and a heavy fine awaits them.

From the onset of the UEW legal impasse, I had expected one of them whom I previously held in high esteem, to have adopted a much more quieter and behind the scenes diplomacy, pleading for mitigation, and not braying for litigation and subtly hiring some UTAG executives to do his bidding.

I always warn people I offer a free ride in my car that, I never head straight to my intended destination. I have to make detours here and there, before finally arriving at my destination. In a similar vein, I have to make a detour here.

With regards to the petition seeking to remove the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) from office, Koku Anyidoho and Mahama Ayariga, have argued that President Nana Akuffo Addo could have shelved the petition. I put it to them categorically, that this would have been unconstitutional.

Where in the Constitution 1992 is it provided that on receipt of a petition seeking to remove the Chairperson of the EC from office, the President should shelve it?

If President Atta Mills previously shelved a petition submitted to him seeking the removal of the then Chief Justice (CJ), then two (2) issues fell for determination.

In the first place, President Mills might have received 'sound legal advice', that led him to conclude that there was nothing of substance in that petition to satisfy any of the requirements spelt out under Article 146 (1) of the Constitution 1992, to warrant its forwarding to the CJ, so hence, the confinement of that petition to the dustbin.

In the eyes of the Constitution 1992, this is unconstitutional.

Under Article 146 (6) and (7), the President's constitutional duty, was to appoint a Committee, acting in consultation with the Council of State to inquire into the petition and make a recommendation to the President as to whether the CJ should be removed from office or not, and nothing else!

Secondly, probably based on flawed legal advice, the President acted unconstitutionally by shelving that petition. Anyidoho and Ayariga, there goes your flawed arguments!

Alhassan Salifu Bawah

(son of a peasant farmer)