Govt’s Handling Of KNUST Impasse Incompetent – Ransford Gyampo

An associate professor at the University of Ghana, Ransford Gyampo has criticised government’s handling of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) impasse.

In a 17-point post on Facebook, the head of European Studies at the University of Ghana wrote, “the KNUST impasse has been incompetently and haphazardly handled as if it is an unprecedented crisis in the history of student activism in Ghana.”

The government on Monday requested the Chancellor of the KNUST, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu ll, to lead the next steps in constituting the University Council, in accordance with the university’s statute and relevant laws.

At a press briefing at the Ministry of Education after a crunch meeting with the leadership of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) in Accra Monday, the Minister of Information designate, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said the Governing Council was expected to be reconstituted by Friday, November 2, 2018 to take over from the Interim Governing Council.

He said UTAG had undertaken to restore services and cooperate in resolution efforts and encouraged other stakeholders to join the efforts.

“In accordance with the earlier directive by the President of the Republic, the university is expected to reopen by November 8, 2018 for normal academic work to resume,” Mr Nkrumah further announced.

But responding to the new development, Prof Gyampo questioned, “But seriously, what really is the Chancellor [Asantehene] supposed to do in reconstituting another Council? Is he expected to take over the appointment of the four government representatives? He certainly can not appoint the other institutional representatives.”

Below is a copy of Prof Gyampo’s post on Facebook

1. The KNUST impasse has been incompetently and haphazardly handled as if it is an unprecedented crisis in the history of student activism in Ghana.

2. There is much confusion, fueled by the fact that those who are expected to be apostles of knowledge, do not actually know how Universities operate and they are unwilling to learn through proper consultations.

3. How do you ask the Chancellor to lead in reconstituting a Governing Council? What role is he expected to really play?

4. For the sake of those who do not know, the Chairman of the KNUST Council, in addition to three members, are appointed by the President of the Republic, out of a Governing Council of 15 Members. The remaining eleven (11) are all institutional representatives who are not directly appointed by the President and cannot be appointed by the Chancellor.

5. So how on earth could any government have dissolved a Governing Council whose entire membership, it didn’t appoint? The Government’s appointees are ONLY FOUR out of the 15 Member Council. It is only the four appointees who can be removed or replaced by the government, not the representatives of UTAG, Convocation, TEWU, GRASAG, GUAA, CHASS, etc etc etc.

6.. Yes it is the duty of the government to maintain law and order and to safeguard the destruction of life and property. But was the curfew imposed not adequate in achieving same purpose? How about the closing down of the University?

7. We demonstrated continuously for over three weeks during the Mmobrowa Struggle in 2000. The University closed down, met with student leaders and resolved the matter. Not even Rawlings, who was by then combining revolutionary tactics with democratic principles interfered or dared to dissolve the UG Council. Yet the matter was resolved and we went back to school.

8. What is so unprecedented about this particular impasse? This is certainly not the first time student demonstration has resulted in casualties. More militant student demonstrations have taken place in Ghana before. When we matched from the then NOVOTEL to the Osu Castle and we were ordered to be beaten and chased from Castle to Kantamanto, casualties were recorded but no VC was asked to step aside.

9. So, why the seeming inordinate desire to push the KNUST VC away? Can’t the issue be settled? Is he not human? Won’t he listen to wise counsel in the face of the crisis?

10. The practice of looking for faults to replace officials incumbent governments didn’t appoint, typical of the “state capture” syndrome associated with winner-takes-all politics, must not be countenanced as we depolarize the “body politik” and strive to build national cohesion for development.

11. But seriously, what really is the Chancellor supposed to do in reconstituting another Council? Is he expected to take over the appointment of the four government representatives? He certainly can not appoint the other institutional representatives.

12. Within 72 hours, a Council was dissolved, an Interim Council was formed, a VC was asked to step aside, a new Council is to be reconstituted in two days to take over from the Interim Council that may have worked for two days, and so on…..This is called confusion personified!!!

13. Otumfuor, the Chancellor of the University and the traditional owner of the land on which the University is built had just stepped in to resolve the crisis in the morning only to be stabbed in the back by the dissolution of the Council in a manner that disrespected his authority and created an impression as if he was incompetent and incapable of dealing with the situation.

14. Why then is he being brought into the picture again to play a role he cannot practically play?

15. Those who wield the mandate to govern, must note that partisan political wisdom will always pale in comparison with traditional wisdom. In this regard, the government must make overtures including rendering an apology to the Otumfuor for the contemptuous treatment and near-disrespect.

16. My humble suggestion to the Otumfuor is for him to bring back the illegally dissolved council. This is because he has no power to appoint the government appointees and cannot determine who must represent the other bodies on the Council in his new mandate to lead the reconstitution of a new Governing Council.

17. The reinstated Council, together with Otumfuor, the Chancellor, must reinstate the VC and together, they must resolve the crisis by first suspending all policies that had triggered the impasse, pending full resolution of the crisis through genuine dialogue hinging on mutual respect for all those around the table, particularly the students.

Yaw Gyampo
A31, Prabiw
PAV Ansah Street
Saltpond