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Somanya not appropriate for proposed ER University.

Fri, 24 May 2013 Source: Yawose, John

Somanya is not appropriate location for proposed ER University.

At independence, visionary President Kwame Nkrumah commenced a glorious programme of national integration and consciousness using tertiary education expansion to embrace the grassroots in the regions. University of Ghana in Accra was fully operational. He converted the Kumasi College of University to a fully fledged University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, the Ashanti regional c apital. He went on to expand the frontiers of higher education and built University of Cape Coast at the Central Regional capital.

In 1992, President Rawlings started the University of Development Studies at Tamale the capital of Northern Region to serve the Northern parts of the country. Later he started a satellite campus at Wa in the Upper West Regional capital as part of his overall decentralization an equity programmes in higher education. President Kufuor sustained the programme of getting every region a University by setting up the University of Mines at Tarkwa in the Western Region. Of course Tarkwa is not the Western Region capital. Sekondi/Takoradi which is the regional capital should have been the location of the Regional University but for the fact that there was an existing facility of Tarkwa School of Mines which was affiliated to KNUST and it was more convenient and cost effective to convert the infrastructure into a stand-alone University in the Western Region.

Next, President Mills’s obsession to higher- level tertiary education was also never in doubt and he made great efforts as in the NDC manifesto to commence Health and Allied Services University at Ho and convert existing facilities for Sunyani Tech campus into Energy and Natural Resources University for Volta and Brong Ahafo Regions at their regional capitals respectively . In the run up to 2012, it was natural and both John Mahama and Akufo Ado, the main political contenders continued the trend and made building of public university at Eastern Region one of their flagship educational programmes in the NDC/NPP manifestoes. Akufo Ado even went on to promise to convert the Wa satellite campus of Tamale UDS into a fully-fledged University at Upper West Region and even start another one in the Upper East Regional capital in Bolgatanga to complete the glorious public-university–for-all-regions concept by 2016. Enter 2013 and the lot fell on John Mahama as President to implement the manifesto promise of building University at Eastern region.

Then the NDC/Mahama vintage manoeuvrings and manipulations began. The simple location of the University is being considered under political and ethnocentric criteria. It is natural that such a facility would be located at Koforidua, the regional capital. But NDC says no, provocatively.

From nowhere, on the 28th April 2013, there was a news item thus: - ‘’TheChiefs and People of Somanya have expressed their appreciation to the government for siting the proposed university in the Eastern Region at Somanya in the Yilo Krobo Traditional Area. We are being told the proposed Eastern Regional University is to locate at Somanya and parts of the Accra plains’’; Check: http://graphic.com.gh/Education/er-university-to-be-sited-at-somanya.html I am in utter disagreement with the decision to locate the Eastern Regional University at Somanya. NDC/Mahama are not being fair to New Juaben community. I think Koforidua being the regional capital deserves to be given its due and be recognised as the natural location of the Eastern Regional public university just like all the other cases cited above. Mahama must answer these questions. Is there any compelling reason why the facility should not be sited in Koforidua? What level and depth of consultation in the region informed that decision? What were the inputs from the chiefs and people of the Region in the decision?

The idea is sloppy and takashie. The thinking all over is that it is vindictive, divisive and borders on ethnocentrism. Koforidua and a greater part of the Eastern Region being seen as in the unfavourable books of NDC are certainly being denied the facility. Mahama/NDC are playing a dirty, bugabuga and expensively ethnocentric game of ‘show them where power lies.’ Therefore Somanya in the Yilo Krobo traditional area which is seen as a comfort zone of NDC in the region should rather enjoy the facility. Somanya and the Accra plains are not even appropriate for the facility. They are too near Accra’s hustle and bustle zone. Are we not tired of everything Accra, Accra, Accra? Somanya, surely in future will be an extension of the Accra dreaded congestions, jammings, hapharzardness and obstructions. The idea of decentralization will be defeated if Somanya is chosen. I think it will be beautiful if Koforidua’s serene environs are considered. My uncle suggests even that this is an opportunity to even open up the quite, rich but dark and neglected Birim Area or Akim Oda- to give meaning to decentralized development. But sadly trust NDC/Mahama to act funny and queerly to deepen their anti-Akan perception in this critical situation. My uncle again believes it is a psychological bobby trap NDC/Mahama have set such that if New Juaben, Abuakwa or AkimOda Omanhenes etc and their citizens protest then they will say – ‘Ah look at the Akans, there they go again, they want to bring their hegemonic idea here too. Don’t the Krobos also deserve University’’—and all that. NDC doings continue to baffle and flummox. NDC hatred and vindictiveness have no boundaries otherwise these characteristics will never be extended to a simple decision of siting a Regional University.

I shudder to think how Voltarians would have taken it if Kufuor had unilaterally decided that the Volta Region University should rather be sited at Nkwanta or Jasikan. Or that Northern regional University should be sited at Bimbilla or Brong Ahafo University should be at Nkoransa. I think President Mahama has not been fair to Eastern Region and it will be just and proper to rethink the siting of the proposed first public Eastern Region University at Koforidua, the regional capital instead of Somanya. If there should be a second one at a future date, then it may go to Somanya. How Somanya should take precedence over Koforidua in this circumstance is suspicious, divisive and provocative. Why is Mahama doing this to the people of Eastern Region? Koforidua deserves better. I say again, NDC hatred, controversy and vindictiveness have no boundaries otherwise these traits will never be extended to a simple decision of siting a Regional University.

Columnist: Yawose, John