The Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Professor Kwasi Obiri Danson, has been asked to step aside in the latest episode of a rough seven days for the closed down university.
The government informed the Vice-Chancellor he was to hand over to the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Mrs. Rita Akosua Dickson.
The Press Secretary to the Education Minister, Rodney Nkrumah Boateng, confirmed this development on the Citi Breakfast Show.
“The Vice-Chancellor has been asked to handover to the Pro Vice-Chancellor… it is a government decision the NCTE [National Council on Tertiary Education] merely communicated it.”
An initial seven-member interim committee was tasked to manage KNUST after the school was shut down indefinitely on Tuesday following violent student protests.
Representatives of University Teachers Association (UTAG), and the Teachers and Education Workers’ Union (TEWU) were later added to the interim council.
Opposition to a new council
The Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, criticised the dissolution saying the management of KNUST was being politicised.
“You are politicising the council, and that is dangerous because you are going to give political actors the chance to go into universities and do what they wish and that is dangerous for our democracy and very dangerous for all of us,” he told the press in Parliament.
“When you put in the interim committee, and they find out that after all the university council did not act illegally, what do you do when you have already dissolved them? You don’t even have the power to do that. Within their statutes, they have enough provisions to deal with this.”
KNUST Lecturers also declared an indefinite strike over the government’s dissolution of the university’s governing council.
The lecturers said they did not support the government’s arbitrary decision without due consultation with them.
They also warned that the government was sidelining the Prof. Obiri Danso from the University from the interim council.
The arrest of 10 students and one alumnus of the school compelled the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) to mobilise for the Monday protest.
The students were arrested for a holding vigil on campus last Friday without permission, according to the school authorities.
One other student who was allegedly mistreated by the internal security was hospitalised at the KNUST hospital.
The Executive Council of the SRC said the demonstration was needed to convey students’ frustration over disrespect and oppression by the school.
The arrests came after the KNUST management served notice that it had suspended the organisation of vigils (morales) in the school.
The management said this was because of “several negative issues encountered recently concerning morales in the hall.”
Some of the protesters called for the removal of the Vice-Chancellor. The SRC said the actions of the campus security and the police officers were a “gross deviation” because the two agencies were instead to protect them.
The Council also promised students that it would ensure the security officers who allegedly beat up students are held accountable while urging students to remain calm.
The Police arrested 20 students following the incident. A day later, the school was closed down indefinitely.