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Opinions of Monday, 23 October 2017

Columnist: Alhassan Salifu Bawah

Why some public officers fail in Ghana: The case of the UEW

Of late, the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) has been in the news for all the right and wrong reasons, depending on the angle one focuses on the unraveling events at the university. Those who see failure in a public entity as normal in Ghana, are of the opinion that all is well at UEW, and therefore, the status quo should be maintained and celebrated for the 'mayhem' that has been inflicted on the university.

On the other hand, those who see failure in a public set-up as an indictment on all reasonable Ghanaians, have taken it upon themselves, with Constitutional backing from Article 41 of the 1992 Constitution, to right the wrongs at UEW, for the benefit of the ordinary Ghanaian, and nothing else.

UEW is in its current state because of a failure on the part of some public officials to get to grasps with the processes of running a public entity, or wilful neglect of the laws of this country, on the part of such public officials.

In a public set-up, decisions are mostly expected to be arrived at by consensus.

However, under the previous management of UEW, the institution was mistakenly seen as the private property of 3 'amigos', whose dreams the night before, became a reality the next day.

Stepping on 'the toes' of any of these 3 'amigos' was enough to see one transferred (like the newly appointed Registrar who fell out with the 'mafia' in the past and was transferred to the Mampong campus to show him where power resides at UEW), or relieved of extra responsibilities, or forced to resign (like the case of Lucy Nana Konadu Arthur), or at worst, framed up and sacked.

Some notable individuals at UEW, ignorantly held the view that 'no court' in Ghana had jurisdiction over the university. There is no need to waste time on this childish view, since the former UEW UTAG President, the 'supreme commander' of that school of thought, has now been re-educated and as a result, now appreciates the unfettered jurisdiction of the judiciary. He is now the 'proud' deponent of an affidavit at the Supreme Court in respect of the UEW legal tussle.

His 'strike weapon' failed him woefully, so he had to learn a bitter lesson. Possessing a weapon doesn't mean that you should use it irrationally! State security officials like the Police, move around with their weapons. Does it mean they should shoot indiscriminately because they have been allocated weapons?

Anyone who believes that the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), or the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), has no power to investigate or invite UEW officials for questioning with regard to their official actions or inactions, is advised to get some education on the Statutes creating those bodies. Recently, a deputy commissioner at the Electoral Commission (EC), whose terms and conditions of engagement equates to that of a High Court Judge, was directed by EOCO to proceed on leave.

The security of tenure of office of this EC official, is guaranteed under the 1992 Constitution, and may only be removed from office as laid down under Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution.

Public universities officials in Ghana can be removed from office 'with just cause' as stipulated under Article 191 (b) of the 1992 Constitution. A court action is more than 'a just cause'. Am speaking in parables here.

It was expected that the hollow stand of some bootlickers that the writ of Supi Kwayera against the Ministry of Education and UEW at the Winneba High Court amounted to an attack on a misconceived academic freedom, which has been shredded to pieces, would have served as a lesson to all UEW officials, especially those who have circumvented some laws of this country for private gain. This appears not to be the case. Let anyone try not to honour an invitation from EOCO or the BNI. If UEW is their personal property inherited from their ancestors, then we shall see!

Reasonable people would have expected the SRC and other student bodies of UEW to have commented on the UEW legal impasse, but this isn't the situation.
How can an SRC that has been treated worse than beggars, sympathise with the current embattled officials, who used all subtle means to strangle the SRC of its legally acquired funds?

SRC cheques are counter-signed by a UEW official. However, this UEW official never promptly signed an SRC cheque. How can the SRC have sympathy for the enemies of students betterment?

Someone had to invest the SRC funds into treasury bills to get a 5% payment from the interest accrued on the investment, cleverly termed honorarium payment before releasing the SRC funds to it on piecemeal basis.
How can students support a management that treated them worse than dogs?

Students are living in mosquito infested and roof-leaking halls. No one bothered to attend to the numerous complaints from the students regarding the squalor state of their halls. Any complaint from the Hall Managers to the embattled officials regarding the deplorable state of the halls, was met with insults, so the Hall Managers, had to pretend that all was rosy at the halls.

It is heartwarming that the Acting VC, Rev. Fr. Prof. Afful-Broni, recently paid unannounced visits to all the halls, and measures are now being put in place to address the defects at the halls. May the Good Lord continue to guide and bless the selfless Acting VC of UEW!

It is apparent from the above that it is nothing but outright greed that gave birth to the current legal impasse at UEW. When public officials see public office as a 'galamsey pit' to enrich themselves at the expense of the state, then it becomes the constitutional duty of responsible citizens to get rid of such 'galamsayers' through the due process; confiscate their ill-gotten wealth; and, deny them the freedom to fully enjoy their suffocating loot. Simple!

Alhassan Salifu Bawah

(son of a peasant farmer)