General News of Fri, 10 Nov 201719
Relocation of UESD campus is NPP ‘doctrine of crude discrimination’ – Okudzeto Ablakwa
The Minority in Parliament says any move by the government to relocate the University Environment and Sustainable Development (UESD) to Bunso at the expense of Donkorkrom violates Constitution.
Parliament in October 2016 passed a thirty-eight million euro loan agreement between the Government of Ghana and Deutsche Bank for the construction of the University in Somanya and Donkorkrom in the Eastern Region.
However, addressing the media in Accra on Tuesday, 7 November, a former Deputy Education Minister and North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said the government must explain to Ghanaians the decision for the relocation.
According to former Deputy Education Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the decision to relocate the Donkorkrom campus to Bunso could pitch the two communities against each other.
The North-Tongu Member of Parliament on the ticket of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in a statement describes the determination by Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh to change the siting of the campus despite several cautions from the minority, could give meaning to a statement by the country’s High Commissioner to South Africa that some Ghanaians are more important than others.
“This NPP-Ayisi Boateng doctrine of crude discrimination and segregation must stop NOW! Our friends in Bunso are not more Ghanaian than our compatriots in Donkorkrom. We are a peace loving people. Government must stop this divisiveness that pitches one community against another,” the minority stated.
Below is the full statement issued by the Minority Thursday, November 9, 2017:
RELOCATION OF DONKORKROM CAMPUS OF UNIVERSITY OF ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TO BUNSO - GOVERNMENT EXPOSED.
My attention has been drawn to an 8th November, 2017 press release from the Ministry of Education under the caption: MINISTRY OF EDUCATION REJECTS HON. ABLAKWA'S ASSERTIONS ON UNIVERSITY OF ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT STUDIES (UEDR).
First of all, I will want to believe that the Ministry of Education is referring to the UNIVERSITY OF ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (UESD) which I spoke about and not a "UNIVERSITY OF ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT STUDIES (UEDR)" which I am not aware exists anywhere in this country.
May I duly acknowledge that in my press interaction in Parliament, I had intended to say Bunso in the Akyem area and not Bunso in the Kyebi area. It is to be noted that I immediately corrected this in my subsequent press statement of 8th November, 2017 under the heading: "EDUCATION MINISTER WAS ECONOMICAL WITH THE TRUTH."
That notwithstanding, the crux of my submission being that unimpeachable and credible information available to me points to the fact that the current Government has relocated the Donkorkrom campus of the UESD to Bunso in the Abuakwa South Constituency still stands.
Indeed, the Ministry of Education's statement confirms the bulls-eye accuracy of my information when it reveals in the paragraph numbered 3 that Exim Bank of South Korea has moved to commence work in Bunso. The cat is finally out of the bag. Why was this information kept away from the good people of Ghana if Government knew it was on the right path? Is this the transparent governance the NPP promised Ghanaians?
It is unfortunate that the Ministry of Education's statement largely distorts the historical facts. The NDC Government through the Ministry of Finance initiated talks with a number of possible financiers of the UESD project. One of the institutions engaged was the Exim Bank of South Korea.
During the engagement with the South Koreans, it emerged that a decision from their Board and final draw down could not happen before 2019.
Considering that a public university for the Eastern Region was a time-bound NDC 2012 Manifesto promise for the period 2013-2017, it was imperative in keeping our pledge just as we had done for the good people of the Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions to opt for the offer of the Brazilians who had secured ready funding. We however proceeded on the basis that since the funding secured by the Brazilians was not adequate to cover both campuses, Somanya and Donkorkrom, we will utilize the Brazilian facility for Somanya, and then when the South Korean Exim Bank Board approval is finally received, it will be used to fund the Donkorkrom campus in line with the Establishment Act of the UESD and to expand facilities at the University of Energy and Natural Resources in the Brong Ahafo Region.
This was the arrangement as was publicly communicated in several policy statements led by President John Mahama and Minister Prof. Naana Opoku-Agyemang before the NDC left office in January, 2017.
At no point did any of the possible financiers we were engaged with raise any objection to the Donkorkrom campus as claimed in the paragraph numbered 2 of the Ministry of Education's statement. It would have been incongruous and most offensive for any financier to determine for the Government and people of Ghana where we should site our national projects. This is the reason I find it most strange that the Ministry of Education seeks to suggest to Ghanaians that the relocation to Bunso- in the Akyem area- is a decision made by the South Koreans.
The Minister of Education should at least credit Ghanaians with some modicum of intelligence. In any case, Ghanaians voted for the NPP to run this country. Ghanaians did not vote for the Exim Bank of South Korea. Additionally, the claim made in the paragraph numbered 2 that the NDC Government had contracted the Exim Bank of South Korea to construct the university in Somanya is patently false. I challenge the Minister of Education to make public any such contract.
The Minister of Education does not need to be reminded that pursuant to Article 181 (5) of the Constitution of Ghana, there can be no binding contract without parliamentary approval. This is the reason the records will show that only the Brazilian facility was taken to Parliament for consideration and approval. Further to this, it is most troubling that the Ministry's statement in the paragraph numbered 3 states "and on agreement with government, moved to commence work there." If this statement is true, it is clear that Article 181 (5) has been breached as there is no Parliamentary approval permitting the South Koreans to commence work in Bunso. This penchant to flout the Constitution of Ghana with impunity will no longer be tolerated by the Minority.
I am particularly intrigued by the paragraph numbered 4 which seeks to blame the outgoing Government for not drawing attention to the fact that Donkorkrom was a "prospective site." More bewildering is the fact that the same paragraph admits that our handing over notes drew attention to the University of Environment and Sustainable Development Act, 2015. Act 898.
With all due respect, if Act 898 had been read, you couldn't have missed Section 3 of that Act which stipulates that "The University shall be established in Somanya with campuses in Donkorkrom and any other place as the Council may determine." The irony is that Government led by Vice President Dr. Bawumia has often unjustifiably and falsely attacked the NDC Minority for not reading. Clearly, we now know who is not reading and the NPP Government would have to find other justifications for this unconscionable conduct.
As I emphasized in my statement of 8th November, 2017, Government can establish a Bunso campus as one of the UESD campuses but that cannot and must not be done at the expense of Donkorkrom in violation of Article 17 of the Constitution and Act 898. This NPP-Ayisi Boateng doctrine of crude discrimination and segregation must stop NOW! Our friends in Bunso are not more Ghanaian than our compatriots in Donkorkrom. We are a peace loving people. Government must stop this divisiveness that pitches one community against another.
The Minority is battle ready to oppose this grave injustice. Government is accordingly adviced.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
MP, North Tongu
Former Deputy Minister of Education.
[Issued in Parliament on 9th November, 2017]