In whose interest is the ongoing University of Education, Winneba (UEW) litigation?

UEW Extension1 The Constitution 1992 does not exempt public universities from being policed by citizens

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 Source: Alhassan Salifu Bawah

Article 41(f) of the 1992 Constitution, confers the right on the citizens of Ghana, to protect and preserve public property and expose and combat misuse and waste of public funds and property.

The Constitution 1992 does not exempt public universities from being policed by the citizens of Ghana. This is the legal basis under which, Mr. Supi Kwayera, the akpeteshie seller in Winneba, and former assemblyman (claimant), grounded his rights on, in his claims against UEW, the Ministry of Education, and the Minister of Education.

Any other law that seeks to torpedo the above Constitutional provision, has no legal effect whatsoever, since Article 1(2), of the 1992 Constitution, provides that, any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of the 1992 Constitution, is void to the extent of the inconsistency!

As a result of the above provision, the 1992 Constitution, is the supreme law in Ghana, whilst in other countries such as the United Kingdom (UK), Parliament, is supreme.

The substantive issues raised by Mr. Supi in his suit, are to be decided from the 9th to the 11th of October, 2017, at the Winneba High Court.

The case is still pending at the Winneba High Court, and not withdrawn, as is being falsely claimed by those afraid of court proceedings.

In the meantime, this write-up, seeks to delve into the benefits or otherwise of Mr. Supi's action against UEW and Others.

The legal tussle at UEW has generated some debate among a section of the Ghanaian public.

A certain school of thought, is of the firm believe that, no court in Ghana has the power to place an injunction on a university official.

However, what this school of thought has failed to do, is to buttress their argument with a constitutional provision. This is basically the argument of the UTAG leadership and a few lecturers who have followed this school blindly, thus, those lecturers on strike.

Having gone through Act 672, which is the enabling Act of UEW, a clause excluding the jurisdiction of the courts of Ghana to hear cases involving UEW in court, is absent.

In addition, even, if there was an exclusion clause in Act 672, the courts of Ghana, would have still assumed jurisdiction. Instances where the courts assumed jurisdiction, despite the existence of exclusion clauses, abound in the legal history of Ghana.

This occurred mostly during the Military regimes, where the ruling juntas sought to oust the jurisdiction of the courts, but nonetheless, the courts, with clear exclusion clauses, still went ahead to hold that, the exclusion clauses were unconstitutional, and proceeded to assume jurisdiction to hear the substantive cases in question.

It should be emphasised that, these were in periods that Ghana had constitutions, and yet, the courts pronounced that, such exclusion clauses, were 'unconstitutional', despite no constitutional provisions guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary.

Another school of thought is convinced that, the courts of Ghana are mandated under Article 125(5) of the 1992 Constitution, to have jurisdiction in all matters civil and criminal, etc. Therefore, the action by Mr. Supi and the subsequent proceedings at the Winneba High Court, are within Constitutional provisions. This is where the Concerned Lecturers UEW, of which, am part, belong (those not on strike).

The short term benefits of the ripple effects of the ongoing UEW legal saga, are clear for those who have eyes to see.

UEW students, have been paying the highest fees among all the public universities. Average yearly increments in UEW fees is 30%. For example, whilst UEW level 400 business administration students were billed Ghc 2,172 for the 2017/18 academic year, their counterparts at Legon (main campus), were billed Ghc 1,200. A difference of almost Ghc 1,000. Incredible!!

The reason for this huge difference, is down to UEW business administration students, paying Ghc 500 for internship and another Ghc 500 for training. The above 2 separate fees amounting to Ghc 1,000 are 'nuisance' fees, to borrow a terminology from the Senior Minister, Hon. Yaw Osafo Marfo.

Lecturers from the Business School have been stopped from going on internship supervision, so why should students continue to pay this fee? Also, the training fee of Ghc 500, is just another avenue to milk students and their parents of their hard earned money.

Furthermore, students were charged an administrative fee of Ghc 50, just for being allowed to pay their fees by instalment. In addition, those who were given the chance to pay their fees by instalment, and who subsequently failed to pay the outstanding balance on the agreed date, were charged Ghc 20 for each day that the balance was outstanding.

With the listening ear of the current management of UEW, all the above conduits for siphoning money from poor Ghanaians, would be sealed.

Chairman of UEW governing council, may the good Lord continue to bless you abundantly!

Level 400 business administration students, paid Ghc 1,765 for the 2016/17 academic year.

Level 400 business administration students, were billed Ghc 2,172 for the 2017/18 academic year. As a result of the interest that has been generated in the running of public universities, and the outcry over the astronomical fees, the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), has directed that all students in Ghana's public universities, pay last year fees. So instead of paying Ghc 2,172, business administration students of UEW, will now pay Ghc 1,765 for the 2017/18 academic year. This is a saving of Ghc 407 for students and their parents.

This Ghc 407 is not going into the pocket of Mr. Supi or his lawyer, but into the pockets of the ordinary Ghanaian, be they NDC or NPP, or the other 'comedians'.

Lecturers have also started witnessing the positive effects of the ongoing legal tussle. Claims that used to take 4 months to be paid, are now being paid within a month. It is hoped that, when the dust settles, all claim rates, would be reviewed upwards, because the claim rates for 'ordinary' lecturers, has remained the same since 2014.

From the above, it is clear that, the ongoing legal brouhaha at UEW, is in the interest of the ordinary Ghanaian.

The spirit of Mr. Supi's action at the Winneba High Court, is in short, a prayer for the right thing to be done at UEW, and other similar establishments elsewhere.

Only selfish and corrupt individuals in society, will oppose such a patriotic act, by an akpeteshie seller (Mr. Supi).

Concerned Lecturers UEW, are NOT on strike, and to our cherished customers (students), akwaaba to UEW for the 2017/18 academic year!

Alhassan Salifu Bawah

(son of a peasant farmer)

Columnist: Alhassan Salifu Bawah