Otumfuo pours heart out
We must all be grateful that at long last the reconstituted Council of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology had been inaugurated and hopefully the university will reopen tomorrow for academic work to resume next Monday.
We must all feel a sense of relief that in the end goodwill has prevailed to underline the fact that in a constitutional democratic setting issues are resolved through dialogue in consonance with the rule of law and not impunity.
It might have been painful for the Chancellor of the university, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, that over the decade of his chancellorship, such a drawback could upset the orderly and peaceful conduct of academic affairs at the university.
The dent would be difficult to erase, but what is important is the Akan adage, that it is bent but not broken surpasses all proverbs.
It is how the dastardly act, fuelled mainly by some irresponsible students and past students of the affected halls, would be handled to bring justice to bear firmly and decisively on all those who resorted to impunity in handling the matter that would chart a new beginning.
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It is most unfortunate that the alumni which petitioned Otumfuo Osei Tutu showed utter contempt to the Asantehene and Chancellor of the university, by taking the matter to court.
The alumni could plead alibi as a group by arguing that it was some individuals who took the matter to court.
Nonetheless, that development did not demonstrate respect and trust in the Asantehene.
What is even more reprehensible is the revelation by Otumfuo Oseitu that at the council meeting where it was decided to turn the halls into mixed residence, there was unanimity from the members which included representatives from the students and alumni.
Here again those behind the bestialism might well argue that those representatives may not be associated with the affected halls in anyway.
That might be true but the skewed presentation of the decision of the full council to convert those halls into mixed residence as an autocratic, authoritarian and misguided decision of the Vice Chancellor undermines any defence that the students representative council and the alumni could put up in opposing the decision their representatives endorsed.
Someone has argued that " a free man when he fails should blame no one", so until and unless counter information could be provided that the minutes of the meeting did not reflect proceedings and that strong opposition was mounted against the proposal, which triumphed because of a majority vote, the representatives of the students and alumni can never say that they have been of any service to themselves, university students, university community and the country.
It is imperative for those representatives to understand that when you represent a group and those who gave you their mandate are against a collective decision you were involved in, you have an obligation to explain the decision to your constituents.
If you feel convinced about the justness of the decisions but find it difficult to sell then you resign to maintain your integrity but you do not keep silent as if you were not a party to the decision just because it has gone sour.
Just as the Asantehene stated, disturbances in our universities are not uncommon.
What is rare is the level of destruction which accompanied the last demonstration at the KNUST.
While it is difficult to appreciate why the university keeps a consolidated account including dues paid by students to run their own affairs, it cannot be farfetched that it might have come as one of a number of desperate measures to safeguard the money from greedy, selfish and corrupt student leaders, some of whom in the specific instance of the KNUST are noted to have abused their offices and misappropriated students money to acquire vehicles.
If on the other hand any university official has condoned with any unscrupulous student leaders to misappropriate funds or deliberately frustrated or undermined genuine efforts by student leaders to access some funds for benign and beneficial activities for students, then that must also stop.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu, Asantehene and Chancellor, has poured his heart out. His esteem and renown have been punctured needlessly. That is why he would not countenance any cover-up.
He is determined to deal firmly against impunity .
He does not think that the authorities of the KNUST must be subjugated either to the students or alumni and he says so strongly when he submits that there is the need to interrogate the extent to which the alumni could influence the administration of the institutions and points out that " we should not encourage students to feel the right to defy authority or cherry-pick rules they choose to obey”.
The committee must be inspired by the sincerity of the Asantehene and work with firmness and conviction. Where the authorities have intruded into the domain of the students they must be told.
The lines of demarcation must be drawn clearly.
Otumfuo has spoken and as a loyal servant of the Golden Stool Asikadwa Kofi, I can only say yon and Nana wano hwam.