Trail of Corruption in UDS

Wed, 24 Apr 2013 Source: Ziem, Joseph

: A Mere Perception or Reality?

By Joseph Ziem

Few weeks ago, I tried contributing my quota to the building of a good reputation for the University for Development Studies (UDS) by making a seemingly rare attempt to expose a canker which symptoms include tribalism, nepotism and ineptitude, and help nip it in the bud.

Every right thinking individual including me fear this canker can destroy any great institution such as the UDS, especially when its administration is manned by a leadership that is over complacent, pessimistic, timid, happy-go-lucky and worse of all, lack wisdom.

Obviously, some few people who do not want to be tagged as being tribalistic, nepotistic and inept were somehow displeased with the way and manner I played my watchdog role in an article that triggered a lot of responses from an array of current and former students as well as former employees of the university. Nonetheless, many were those who expressed gratitude for my daring and unbiased attempt to FURTHER expose something that has, in their own words, existed for over a decade now and continues to exist. Whilst few people personally called me to say “thank you for your good work”, others made similar expressions on other social networks particularly on http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.php?ID=268542, where the article was given some prominence. Before I tell anyone reading this piece about the perception or reality surrounding the trail of corrupt practices in the UDS, kindly allow me to share with you some of the comments made on Ghanaweb when the previous article captioned:“Tribalism, nepotism and Ineptitude Destroying UDS” was published. Some of the few comments I’ve paraphrased read: letters sent to the UDS by people including job seekers mysteriously get missing when their owners make follow-ups later; graduate programmes have began to proliferate but the qualified people to handle such courses leave much to be desired. The students are being sacrificed for the university’s management; and Ask Professor Dittoh when he was Pro-Vice Chancellor, it was as if UDS was in the pocket of Frafras. Also, a student who called from the Wa campus of UDS complained bitterly that three different lecturers who currently handle culture and management; management accounting; and economics are inept and ought to be replaced by the authorities. “They don’t know their left from their right anytime they come to class and when they leave, my mates and I become even more confuse”. These and many more were some of the comments I received from readers of my previous article.

Indeed, a message that appeared to speak in volumes regarding the tribal cards that are being played by some self-centered people in the UDS was one I received during a chat with a student on one of the social media websites. She said: “…..the Ewes want to be heads….the Dagombas think it’s their home and demand unnecessary respect, the Kwahu boys feel they have the money, and the Dagaabas put up the better than thou attitude.”

Fellow countrymen and women, the problem at the UDS is indeed hydra-headed and it will take a leader with patience, openness, tactfulness and above all good sense of judgment to be able to deal with this problem without stepping on toes. I thought the issue of tribalism, nepotism and ineptitude was just within the circles of the three descendants of Naa Gbewa of the ancient Mole-Dagbani Kingdom who I prefer to call X, Y and Z. So as it stands now, I can’t help but to admit that there’s something more to the UDS problem than meets the eye. The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines CORRUPTION as “illegal, bad or dishonest behaviour, especially by people in positions of power”. From the dictionary of my mental faculties, I also define CORRUPTION as “The absence of transparency and accountability in both the private and public lives of every human, especially persons in positions of power”.

Following the publication of my previous article about the UDS, some of those who called me to make comments after reading it, encouraged me to write about certain incongruous happenings in the administration of MY and of course OUR university, which they were not enthuse with. For instance, like in most tertiary and even second cycle institutions, it is an established and legally accepted norm by authorities of the UDS to conduct medical fitness tests on every fresh student who gains admission into the university as part of admission requirements.

The reason for such medical tests I understand, is to enable authorities and medical facilities or doctors to know about the medical history of each student in their custody obviously to avoid complications in the event of sickness. Perhaps, [my conjecture] another reason why university officials would conduct medical tests on students, is to enable them use data collated for research purposes in future, since they believe in research as an elixir to the health problems confronting the people in the area the university operates and Ghana as a whole.

Fortunately or unfortunately, authorities of the UDS sources claimed, refuse to disclose tests results to students who submit to the various tests conducted on them by a team of ‘independent medical examiners’ who move from campus to campus every year to conduct the tests. Patrick [not his real name] and a third year student of the Wa campus of the university in a chat with me via phone disclosed that, all members of his batch in 2010 were asked to bring samples of their faeces and urine for the tests to be conducted. Even though he is not sure of the kind of tests that were conducted using their faeces and urine, he suspects the test could include establishing whether there is any presence of deadly viruses, renal/liver conditions, parasites, cancer, urinary tract infections, as well as other communicable diseases in their systems. Bottom-line; to establish whether each individual student is medically fit to go through the four/seven-year academic programme. I learned that few years ago, authorities of the UDS gave students the free will to choose a recognized medical facility of their choice to have them examined. It was not until 2010, when authorities reportedly decided to take full charge of the medical examination by awarding it on contract to “independent medical examiners” who in collaboration with the university, charged and continue to charge students exorbitant fees for the tests, which they complain about. I’m told students pay not less than GH¢50.00 for the medical test and that, it was most likely to increase to GH¢100.00 for shortlisted applicants of the 2013/2014 academic year.

Honestly, I think this whole exercise being undertaken by the authorities of the UDS is good. But the few concerns that beg for answers and/or explanations from authorities of the university are (i) Are the authorities hiding behind the medical tests to rob poor students and their parents of their few coins? (ii) Am not a medical practitioner but with the little knowledge I have as a human rights journalist, I think it’s against the fundamental human rights of students of the UDS to be denied knowledge of their medical condition by the authorities after subjecting them to medical laboratory tests. They deserve to know whether they are sick or not, otherwise I dare say that, the students are being used as “guinea pigs” by the university officials to conduct some lucrative research. Another serious concern that is worth mentioning even though it is a rumour, is that some IT officials of the university have been clandestinely inserting their own list of names of applicants into the final list of applicants prepared by the Registrar’s office for admission in every academic year. From the scuttlebutt, this issue was seriously discussed at a recent meeting of university authorities and plans were fashioned out to expel any staff of the IT Department that would be found culpable. Frankly, I treated the aforementioned allegation with contempt when I first heard it. Why am I saying this? Every year, the list of all qualified applicants is published on www.uds.edu.gh with unique code or numbers generated for each shortlisted applicant. Besides, admission letters are sent later to each qualified applicant who gains admission into the university and so it stands to reason that even if any IT official inserts any name into the list of the Registrar, it would be impossible for that IT official to forge the signature of the Registrar on admission letters of any so called unqualified applicants list. But like I always say, there is an iota of truth in every rumour and like everyone else, I think university authorities should come clean on this. There should be no attempt to cover-up for anybody who is found guilty of any misdeed if what I’m hearing is anything to go by. They that have ears let them hear, and if they that heed are wise, let them act.

The writer is a freelance journalist but regularly writes for The Daily Dispatch Newspaper. Views or comments may be sent to him via ziemjoseph@yahoo.com/ +233 207344104.

Columnist: Ziem, Joseph