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Opinions of Sunday, 25 August 2013

Columnist: Brako-Powers, Austin

Petition against AASU Secretary-General

19th July, 2013

P.O BOX M274


I have served the All-Africa Students Union from 2010 when I served my National Service, and was later retained as a member of staff. I have served in different capacities most recent being the Programs Officer. On the 6th of May 2013, I officially notified the AASU leadership at the Secretariat headed by Mr. Awaah Fred the Secretary General of my resignation from the Union’s staff.
As much as I did not mention my full reasons for leaving AASU in my letter to the Secretary General, I will bravely say that I quit because of Mr. Awaah Fred’s unprofessional leadership conduct and way of administration. Mr. Awaah administered AASU in disregard to all acceptable administrative ethics.
I cannot call myself an agent of change, integrity and accountability when I see an individual mismanage an organization, misuse authority and risk public funds raised from tax payer’s hard earned income and rather keep quiet about it.
Article IX (Discipline), Section 3(1,3,4) (Individual Member) - of the AASU constitution, mandates the secretariat to suspend any individual accused of misappropriation of organizational funds and related offences, or behavior prejudicial to the organization among others. (Appendix 1) 2 | P a g e

It’s against this background that I pray that your office takes into consideration the following concerns, that I believe amount to gross abuse of office by Mr. Awaah Fred who is currently serving as the Secretary General of AASU whose actions are tantamount to criminality;
1. Financial impropriety: On the 20th of February 2013, Mr. Awaah instructed for the withdrawal of GHC30,550 (Thirty One thousand, Five Hundred Fifty Ghana cedis) from the AASU Bank of Ghana Account no. 1018631522254. He made some expenditure on the money on the same day, then he deposited the balance into his personal account in Stanbic Bank - Airport branch, from where it was all spent. He went ahead with this action despite all efforts in vain by the Organizations’ Administrator and signatory to the account by then advising him against it. Mr. Awaah’s action is contrary to Part II, Section (12) and (13) of the Ghana Financial Administration Regulations, 2004. (Appendix 2)

Section 12 of the Financial Administration Regulations says it shall be the responsibility of any person with custodial duties of public funds to protect public and trust moneys against unlawful diversion and against accidental loss.
Section 13 (b) on the other hand emphasizes the fact that AASU funds are meant to be in the organizations’ account with the Bank of Ghana, from where the funds shall be spent (utilized) and not any other personal account as Mr. Awaah did in this case.
It should be noted that this isn’t the first time this is happening. In the month of November 2012, the same individual received monies worth USD2000 from the General Sudanese Students Union (GSSU) through the Ambassador of Sudan to Ghana. He went ahead as well to deposit the funds into his personal above mentioned account from where it was spent. This money was a contribution by GSSU towards the running of the AASU secretariat.
With this mode of careless and irresponsible one man mode of financial management 3 | P a g e

of an institution of AASU’s kind, it will be difficult to audit organizational funds spent from an individual’s personal account.
2. Staff Recruitment: On assuming office Mr. Awaah went ahead to disengage some secretariat staff on very weak grounds, and rather recruited new staff with total disregard of the basic recruitment procedures. He single handedly recruited staff minus consulting other members of the secretariat as should have been the case. Article 1(e) of the MOU (Appendix 3) between AASU and the Government of Ghana spells out how AASU staff should be recruited. It says that staff shall be seconded to AASU by the Government of Ghana, and locally recruited by the secretariat. The secretariat is expected to employ internationally recognized recruitment best practices in engaging staff. Mr. Awaah has however has gone against the simple legal and acceptable standards while employing staff at the secretariat. For instance;
a. He recruited Mr. Peter Kwasi Kodjie in 2012 who had just graduated in the same year from the University of Professional Studies without serving his National Service as required by the law of Ghana; Mr. Awaah using his Authority as the Secretary General acted contrary to the Ghana National Service Act (Appendix 4), Section 7(1) which spells out the fact that a person liable to National Service, such as Mr. Peter Kwasi Kodjie, should not be employed contrary to the provisions of this act. It should be noted that Mr. Awaah was in the know that Mr. Kodjie had not served his National Service prior to hiring him to AASU, as evidenced in a letter he wrote to the National Service Scheme, dated 14th September, 2013 (Appendix 5) trying to arm twist the NSS secretariat to re-post him (Kodjie) to AASU in vain.

I however, suspect that Mr. Awaah did this to reward Mr. Kodjie a former NUGS President (2011-12), for ignoring a petition (Apendix 6) lodged against him (Awaah) that challenged the legality of his representation as NUGS representative to AASU in 2012 just before the AASU congress in July of the same year. If this petition stood, it would have affected Mr. Awaah’s candidature for the position of 4 | P a g e

Secretary General in the last held AASU election last year. His actions not only exposed his administrative ineptitude, but also put a dent on the credibility of the University of Professional Studies – Ghana, whose responsibility is to train professionals with moral rectitude and integrity. I am even more worried that Mr. Peter Kodjie (a former NUGS President) escaped National Service circumventing the law while Mr. Awaah (a current lecturer of UPS) cushioned criminality with both personalities being graduates of such a highly rated University.
b. He Fired Mr. Hayford Amoh a chartered accountant who had served AASU diligently for three (3) years as an accountant, just to replace him with one Ms. Dorcas Christabel Addo with a Higher National Diploma in Accounting. This is not meant to undermine Ms. Addo’s competence on the job, but in comparison to Mr. Amoh’s education levels, experience and competence on the job, Mr. Awaah’s action was illogical. One would therefore assume that his actions were meant to place a less experienced individual who would give him flexibility to act unprofessionally in regard to funds management as mentioned in (1) above;

c. Last but not least, he recruited Ms. Miriam Tetteh (currently a student of Finance and Banking at UPS) as the Procurement Officer with NO qualification in procurement management, or even prior experience in the same. This defeats the purpose as to why the auditors recommended for the Union to employ a procurement officer in the first place.

3. He has abused the Unions’ diplomatic relations with the government of Ghana by attempting to send people unknown to the Union for foreign trips in the name of AASU. For example he attempted to send Mr. Harry Atograh unknown to AASU claiming he was to represent the Union at the 2nd International Preparatory Meeting (2ND IPM) of the World Youth Festival in Madrid – Spain on which had been scheduled for 28th-29th June 2012. I realized this after the organizers (World Federation of Democratic Youth) who are well known to me contacted me to confirm. I later informed the Deputy Secretary General who appeared ignorant of the move.
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4. Procurement flaws: Mr. Awaah does not follow procurement procedure when purchasing items for the Union. He runs a “one man’s procurement committee”. He chooses what to procure, when to procure, and will only inform other officers including the Secretary for Finance and Administration way after he has executed the transactions. This leaves the priority preferences of the Union in one man’s hands making his colleagues appear more of onlookers than decision makers and implementers.

5. He single handedly changed the venue of the 3rd Edition of the Africa Students and Youth Summit from Khartoum – Sudan, to Accra – Ghana, even after the hosts (General Sudanese Students Union) had given genuine reasons for the Summit’s postponement from May 2013 and confirmed the new dates of 27th – 31st August. He however lied in a staff meeting held in May 2013 that he had consulted the other secretariat elected officers who weren’t present, but when his colleagues were asked, they denied. This kind of behavior endangers the good relationship between AASU and GSSU, and may have the tendency of undermining the cordial relationships between the two Unions, and the government of Sudan which had already invested a considerable amount of resources in the summit preparations through the office of the Vice President of the Republic of Sudan. It also undermines teamwork and your authority as leaders of AASU, if the Secretary General is left to make such irrational decisions, without seeking for your counsel.

Mr. Awaah’s actions are criminal in nature, and should not be tolerated in an acclaimed international institution such as AASU. This individual is a holder of a Masters of Philosophy degree in Public Administration, and a lecturer in the same field at the University of Professional Studies (Ghana). This implies that his unprofessional actions are deliberate, or he is simply incompetent, despite his seemingly high level training in public management.
Mr. President, and other members of the Secretariat, it is in the best interest of AASU 6 | P a g e

that you use your constitutional mandate and take strong disciplinary measures against this individual whose unethical autocratic style of leadership has put the Union at great risk of embarrassment due to his mismanagement. Most of the staff at the Secretariat are not motivated, while the elected officers of the Secretariat appear to be ignorant of most operations of the Organization even when they are supposed to be preview.
In a period of one year of Mr. Awaah’s leadership, three (3) members of staff have resigned and others seem to be planning to follow suit. It is unprecedented for AASU staff to quit in the past, unless it’s for other employment or educational opportunity elsewhere.
This is not personal, but from all indications, Mr. Awaah Fred is a bad “seed” to the Union especially at such a time that AASU is struggling to rebuild its credibility and status in the student’s movement on the international arena.
Failure for you to adhere to the above constitutional provision as stated in article IX with regard to this matter; I will be compelled to take all other necessary steps to ensure that AASU is sanitized from this kind of leadership.
I now rest for I feel I have cleared my conscious by living up to this occasion of expressing my observations. It’s now all upto the secretariat and executive members to brave up and do what is best for the Union.
Find Attached:
Appendix 1; AASU Constitution - Article IX Section 3(1,3,4),
Appendix 2; Ghana Financial Administration Regulations, 2004 - Part II, Section 12,13(a,b),
Appendix 3; Memorandum of Understanding between GoG and AASU - Article 1(e),
Appendix 4; Ghana National Service Act - Section 7(1),
Appendix 5; Letter to NSS secretariat by Mr. Awaah,
Appendix 6; 2012 Petition against Mr. Awaah by Mr. Julien Mawusi Kobbinah. 7 | P a g e

Cc: Hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration – Ghana
Director Africa and Regional Integration Bureau MFA - Ghana
Director Finance and Administration MFA – Ghana
University of Professional Studies (VC, Registrar, DOS)
President (National Union of Ghana Students)
Mr. Awaah Fred.