A group calling itself Concerned Lecturers of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), has called for the entire university community to accept and allow the Interim Council constituted by the government to do its job.“We, the Concerned Lecturers of KNUST (CLK) wish to appeal to all stakeholders of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to allow the legally constituted seven-member Interim Council (IC) to do their job without interference,” a press release signed by the spokesperson of CLK, Dr. Kwasi Amakye-Boateng, said on Monday, 29 October 2018.
The government dissolved and replaced the Governing Council of KNUST with the Interim Council to look into the recent disturbances on campus, which resulted in the destruction of over 40 cars and 10 motorbikes.
The Interim Council is chaired by Nana Effah Apenteng, Paramount Chief of the Bompata Traditional Area.
The committee was formed after briefs and recommendations made by the Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, after he led a high-powered delegation, including the Minister of National Security, Albert Kan-Dapaah; and the Minister-Designate for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, to Kumasi.
However, the KNUST branch of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) declared an indefinite strike in protest to the newly-constituted council. UTAG said it wanted the old Council restored before they return to the lecture hall.
However, a section of the lecturers, who identify themselves as CLK, insists that “the demands by the unions on the government to restore the old Council and allow the university authority to undertake investigations into the circumstances that brought about the widely-condemned demonstration staged by the students of KNUST, is unreasonable”.
“Using our 1992 Constitution and the Act of Parliament that established KNUST, we have come to understand that legally, it is only the government that has the power to constitute or appoint and dissolve statutory Boards and Councils,” the group added.
They have proposed some solutions to the impasse.
Below is the full statement:
ALLOW THE INTERIM COUNCIL TO WORK
We the CONCERNED LECTURERS OF KNUST (CLK) wish to appeal to all stakeholders of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to allow the legally constituted Seven-member Interim Council (IC) to do their job without interference.
This, we believe, is to hasten resolution of the impasse between the University Management and the Students that resulted in a massive demonstration by the students against the school's Management on Monday, October 22, 2018.
The demonstration, one of its kind in the last 30 years, involving students protesting Management of the University shocked everyone and it has evoked varied emotions among many groupings within and outside the University. The demonstration went out of the control of the University Authorities and it took the intervention of the Regional Minister, REGSEC and the Government to restore calm on campus. Although no life was lost, properties worth tens of millions of Ghana Cedis including vehicles and buildings were destroyed. The Government immediately closed down the University and a 6:00 pm to 6:00 am curfew was declared to avert any further attacks and to maintain law and order on the university campus. Till date, the university campus is under the protection of the Ghana Army and the Police.
The student body came out with reasons to support their rare reaction on the Monday. Among them were purported University Authority-backed brutalities meted to them by campus security officers, incarceration and detention of students at Campus Security Cells and the KNUST Police Station, banning of continuous students from entering residential halls, forced removal of elected officers of residential halls and their replacement with the First-Year students who are not qualified by the SRC constitution, amalgamation of all students' accounts under the University Management making it difficult for the students to operate, deaf ears turned to their petitions, etc.
In the midst of the confusion several groups on campus including University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG ) came out condemning the students' violent attack on the university and also rejected the Government's dissolution of the University Council, setting aside of the Vice Chancellor and the eventual establishment of an Interim Council (IC) on Thursday October 25, 2018. The IC was mandated by Government to investigate the cause or causes of the students' demonstration, estimate the cost of destruction on campus, work with University Management to reopen the university within two weeks, and finally to submit their report and recommendations to Government within three months. UTAG raised concerns about the dissolution of University Council and formation of the Interim Governing Council, the absence of UTAG representative on the IC, the presence of SRC President on the Council while excluding the Vice Chancellor. In solidarity with the University Management, UTAG on Friday, October 26, 2018, withdrew their services. This was followed by other groups on campus including GAUA and possibly TEWU.
Inasmuch as we condemn the violent nature of the students' protest last Monday, we the CONCERNED LECTURERS of KNUST (CLK) wish to advise all feuding parties to moderate their stance and allow cooler heads to work. It is also important that in the midst of crisis we desist from every temptation to take decisions borne out of emotions. We should at every instance allow the rule of law to operate without jeopardizing the future of our young generation.
CLK have strenuously assessed the legality of Government forming and dissolving the University Council.
Using our 1992 Constitution and the Act of Parliament that established KNUST we have come to understand that, legally, it is only the Government that has the power to constitute or appoint and dissolve statutory Boards and Councils. The National Constitution and the Act of Parliament (Act 80) that established the university all make it very clear.
Article 70 (1)(d)(iv) of the 1992 Constitution clearly states that "The President shall, acting in consultation with the Council of State, appoint the Chairmen and other members of a National Council for Higher Education howsoever described".
It is also instructive to note that, the Act of Parliament that established the KWAME NKRUMAH UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, KUMASI ACT - 1961 (ACT 80), specifically Section 7 concerning the University Council states that "(1) The governing body of the University shall be the University Council which shall consist of the following members appointed by the PNDC (Government): (a) the Chairman; (b) the Vice-Chancellor; (c) two representatives of Convocation (one of professorial status and one of non-professorial status); (d) one representative of the University Teachers Association; (e) a representative of the undergraduate students of the University;
(f) a representative of the post-graduate students of the University; (g)…; (h) a representative of the Teachers and Education Workers Union; (i) a representative of the Education Commission; (j) a representative of the Conference of Heads of
Assisted Secondary Schools; (k) a representative of the Alumni Association of the University; and (l) three other persons including at least one woman. [As substituted by the University of Science and Technology, Kumasi (Amendment) Law, 1990 (PNDCL 240), s. 1(c)".
Therefore, strike actions embarked by various trade unions on the university campus may be in conflict with the law.
Furthermore, the demands by the unions on the government to restore the old Council and allow the University Authority to undertake investigations into circumstances that brought about the widely condemned demonstration staged by the students of KNUST is unreasonable.
This is because the university authorities, including the Vice-Chancellor and the Council, have been accused by the students for their actions or inactions leading to the disturbances. Logically, one cannot be a player and at the same time a referee. Therefore, the IC which is an independent body with representation from key stakeholders of the university is appropriate for investigating circumstances leading to the students’ unrest and to make recommendations to forestall any future occurrence.
The CONCERNED LECTURERS OF KNUST (CLK) have thus made the following observations and propose some recommendations to aid resolution of the impasse:
1. We have observed that the Interim Council is having Pro Vice-Chancellor of KNUST, Prof Rita Dickson, as representative but no UTAG official is serving on it. We, therefore, recommend to Government that representatives of UTAG and TEWU should be appointed onto the Interim Council to create a balance and also to assure their members of fairness.
2. We have also observed that since the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Kwesi Obiri-Danso, could not represent the University Management directly on the IC because he was accused by the students in their accounts, so should the President of SRC be exempted from the Interim Council. CLK, therefore, recommend that SRC official other than the President should serve on the Interim Council.
3. All the striking groups including UTAG and GAUA should consider withdrawing their industrial actions and cooperate with the Interim Governing Council to ensure that they complete their assigned responsibilities within the stipulated time. Their work is critical for restoration of normalcy on the University campus for academic work to resume.
4. The Interim Council should as a matter of urgency reopen the University for the Students to return to continue with their academic work in an atmosphere of safety and tranquillity. Our foreign students who are on time-bound scholarships are likely to face enormous challenges should the university remains closed. In our expectation, student enrolments in the coming years are to soar partly due to the Free Education Policy as well as the University's hard-won positive international outlook. KNUST’s current student population is nearly fifty
thousand (50,000). Therefore, our failure to join our sisters to absorb the applicants would have dire consequences on the nation's educational system.
5. All stakeholders, especially students and workers of the University, should refrain from interfering with the work of the Interim Governing Council, to restore law and order on our campus for academic work to continue.
6. The recommendations in the report to be issued by the IC after their work should be fully implemented such that this kind of violence in our higher institutions of learning does not resurface in our educational system.
The CLK express appreciation to all individuals and groups who are contributing to the speedy resolution of the current impasse at KNUST. We further appeal to all and sundry to join hands in the forward march of the university. Indeed, Nyansa po wosane no badwenma! Thank you.
DR. KWASI AMAKYE-BOATENG
(Public Relations Officer)