Home / KNUST saga: Napo, Yankah must go – Minority

KNUST saga: Napo, Yankah must go – Minority

The Minority in Parliament is calling for the dismissal or resignation of the Minister of Education, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh (Napo); and the Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, over the recent disturbances and impasse at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

The Minority has kicked against the government’s dissolution the Governing Council of the school and the subsequent constitution of a seven-member Interim Council to look into the recent disturbances on campus, which resulted in the destruction of over 40 cars and 10 motorbikes as well as other state and private property following a peaceful demonstration that turned ugly.

The National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), also asked the Vice-Chancellor of KNUST, Professor Kwasi Obiri-Danso, to step aside.

At a press conference on Monday, 29 October 2018, however, the Minority said it “submits strongly that this whole impasse, which has now spiralled out of control, is a failure of leadership by the government and a reflection of the super incompetence that has characterised the Akufo-Addo administration”.

“It must be emphasised that the Minority would not accept the erosion of the rule of law and the deliberate undermining of the sacrosanct principles of academic freedom and the independence of higher institutions of learning as enshrined in Articles 21 and 70 of the Constitution of Ghana and the National Council for Tertiary Education Act, 1993, Act 454.

“The Minority in Parliament unreservedly and absolutely denounces the government’s unlawful conduct in dissolving the Council of the University. We demand the immediate reversal of this illegal act”, Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu told journalists at a press conference on Monday.

The demonstration by the students was in protest to a ban on vigils and gatherings to sing ‘jama’ songs.

A remote cause of the demonstration was the conversion of all single-sex halls to mixed-gender halls of residence.

In the Minority’s view, “Proactive and consultative leadership would have better managed the government’s unpopular policy of the conversion of single-sex halls of residence at the KNUST. In any case, we do not believe that of all the issues confronting higher education in Ghana, the conversion of single-sex halls should even feature as a priority at this crucial time.

“Ladies and gentlemen, if Prof. Kwasi Obiri-Danso must be removed because of this policy and its implementation, then it stands to reason that the two Ministers of Education, namely Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh and Prof. Kwesi Yankah, who publicly endorsed the policy, supervised, championed and praised its implementation, should resign or be fired with immediate effect. The Minority hereby demands that the two ministers must be treated equally just as Prof. Obiri-Danso”.

Meanwhile, the Chancellor of the university, Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has been requested by the government, to lead efforts at reconstituting the dissolved Governing Council of the school.

Below is the Minority’s full press statement:

PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE MINORITY IN PARLIAMENT ON THE CRISIS AT THE KWAME NKRUMAH UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ADDRESSED BY MINORITY LEADER, HON. HARUNA IDDRISU.

The Minority in Parliament is outraged at the blatant attack on academic freedom and the unbridled assault on the autonomy of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology by the Akufo-Addo led Government.

It must be emphasised that the Minority would not accept the erosion of the rule of law and the deliberate undermining of the sacrosanct principles of academic freedom and the independence of higher institutions of learning as enshrined in Articles 21 and 70 of the Constitution of Ghana and the National Council for Tertiary Education Act, 1993, Act 454.

We would also not tolerate the wanton trampling and disregard of Act 80 as amended and the Statutes of the KNUST.

The Minority submits strongly that this whole impasse which has now spiralled out of control is a failure of leadership by Government and a reflection of the super incompetence that has characterised the Akufo-Addo Administration.

Proactive and consultative leadership would have better-managed Government’s unpopular policy of the conversion of single-sex halls of residence at the KNUST. In any case, we do not believe that of all the issues confronting higher education in Ghana, the conversion of single-sex halls should even feature as a priority at this crucial time.

We condemn in very clear language the violation of the rights of students and the brutalities meted out to students exercising their constitutional right to protest.

In like manner, we duly condemn the violent demonstrations leading to the destruction of private and public property.

The Minority in Parliament unreservedly and absolutely denounces Government’s unlawful conduct in dissolving the Council of the University. We demand the immediate reversal of this illegal act.

We decry the attempt to scapegoat the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Kwesi Obiri-Danso and hold him solely responsible for the current crisis. This act by Government is the highest form of dishonesty, cowardice and bad faith.

All Ghanaians who cared to follow this issue; heard the Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh endorse the hall conversion policy on 15 July 2018, at the 52nd Congregation of KNUST.

Similarly, the Minister of State for Tertiary Education, Prof. Kwesi Yankah on September 8, 2018, endorsed the hall conversion policy describing it as Government’s Policy and directing other universities to emulate KNUST’s “bold” example.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if Prof. Kwesi Obiri-Danso must be removed because of this policy and its implementation, then it stands to reason that the two Ministers of Education namely Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh and Prof. Kwesi Yankah who publicly endorsed the policy, supervised, championed and praised its implementation should resign or be fired with immediate effect. The Minority hereby demands that the two Ministers must be treated equally just as Prof. Obiri-Danso.

More fundamentally, the Minority expresses its deep worry for what appears to have become a consistent pattern by Government to invade autonomous tertiary institutions and remove Principal Officers it did not appoint. This was the case at the University of Education, Winneba, the Ghana Institute of Journalism and the Cape Coast Polytechnic.

The Minority would not sit idle and allow this reckless attack on academic freedom and the autonomy of our higher institutions of learning to become the new normal.

It is for this reason that we declare our full support and express our unflinching solidarity for the striking and demonstrating unions at KNUST and beyond.

We commend UTAG, TEWU, FUSAG, GAUA and VCG for standing up against oppressor’s rule.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Minority is concerned about how Government’s knee-jerk reaction has derailed the mediation efforts of the Chancellor, Otumfuor Osei Tutu II. Government’s attempt to undermine his authority as Chancellor and disrupt the mediation efforts he had commenced just before Government’s ill-advised intervention and illegal conduct in dissolving the University Council.

We, therefore, demand that Government apologises to the revered King and Chancellor. Importantly, Government must promptly accede to his demand of reinstating the governing council.

If Government so desires, it can change its reps on the University Council but it cannot proceed to dissolve the entire Council by such crude means.

The current matters before us are about the precedent we must not tolerate, the image of Ghana’s higher education we must not damage and the respect for the rights and views of key stakeholders in our universities which we must not disregard.

The Minority must point out at this juncture that we do not absolve President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo from this imbroglio. It is he who directed the Ministry of Education to engage in the unlawful act of dissolving the University Council and it is he who refused to act in a timely manner that would have averted this entire predicament.

We insist that President Akufo-Addo changes course by respecting the Constitution and the laws of Ghana and thereby avoiding the looming shut down of all universities in Ghana.

We thank you for your attention.

Source: Ghana/ClassFMonline.com

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