Seven-member IMC takes charge of KNUST

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong
The Education Minister, Matthew Opoku Prempeh (left) exchanging pleasantries with Nana Effah Apenteng, the IMC Chairman, KNUST.
The Education Minister, Matthew Opoku Prempeh (left) exchanging pleasantries with Nana Effah Apenteng, the IMC Chairman, KNUST.

Following the events that led to a massive and violent demonstration by the students of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) last Monday, the government has dissolved the Governing Council of the university.

In its place, it has inaugurated a seven-member interim council to run the affairs of the university for the next three months.

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The government has also directed that the university should be reopened within 14 days to enable academic work to continue.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Education in Accra on Thursday, the Interim Council is chaired by Nana Effah Apenteng, the Paramount Chief of the Bompata Traditional Area.

Other members are Prof. Mrs Rita Akosua Dickson, Dr Edward Baffoe-Bonnie, Ms Hilda Haggar Ampadu, Prof. Joshua Ayarkwa, Mrs Abena Antwi and Mr Kelvin Sah.


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Terms of reference

The terms of reference of the Interim Council are: to assume the powers of the Governing Council, establish the causes of the recent riots on campus, establish the full extent and cost of damage caused and resolve the differences between the university management and the student body.

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The KNUST was closed down indefinitely last Monday following a violent demonstration by the students on the campus.

The Interim Council will oversee the day-to-day running of the university and investigate all outstanding matters in order to expedite the reopening of the university.

The statement said the action was taken by the government as a result of briefs and recommendations made by the Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, after leading a delegation to meet with stakeholders of KNUST and the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC) on the crisis in the university last Tuesday.

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VC’s fate

The fate of the vice-chancellor, as to whether or not he would have to continue with his work, would be determined by the Interim Council, the statement said.

The students of KNUST have been agitating for the removal of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kwasi Obiri-Danso, saying that he was imposing autocratic decisions on them.

The statement issued by the Ministry of Education was silent on the fate of the VC, neither was he added to the Interim Council
Clarifying issues, a Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, said the Interim Council would determine whether or not to work with Prof. Obiri-Danso.

UTAG

Meanwhile, the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) says the exclusion of the vice-chancellor from the Interim Council was a “smokescreen” aimed at removing Prof. Obiri-Danso.

According to the President of UTAG, Dr Eric Opoku Mensah, the action by the government of dissolving the council was most disappointing.

"We are appalled; we are surprised at what is happening. If the government decides that it is going to set up an Interim Management Committee and decides to put the SRC President there but forgets about other major stakeholders and the vice-chancellor himself, this is surprising.

"We saw this coming and we know what the government wants to do with respect to the future of the vice-chancellor. UTAG is a major stakeholder in education in universities in Ghana and we are not going to sit down for this thing to happen,” he said.

Background

The KNUST was closed down indefinitely last Monday following a violent demonstration by the students on the university campus in Kumasi yesterday.

The Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC), which took the decision at an emergency meeting with the university authorities, also imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the university campus with immediate effect.

The students of KNUST, who went on a peaceful demonstration against the ‘tyrannical’ style of the university administration, turned violent, leading to the massive destruction of public and individual properties.

The demonstration was also intended to express grave concern over the use of force by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kwasi Obiri Danso, to cow them into submission.

Before the demonstration, 11 students of the University Hall (Katanga) who had participated in the usual entertainment programme (otherwise called moral session) of the hall last Friday were allegedly brutalised and arrested by the university’s internal security men and handed over to the KNUST Police Station, where they were detained.

Moral sessions are processions of students usually on campus, amid singing and dancing, and are very common with the all-male halls of residence.

Reopen

The government’s immediate priority was to expedite the reopening of the university to ensure a smooth return to academic work, a view which, the statement said, was shared by the university lecturers.

The statement said the government was also mindful of an adverse international image the country would suffer if the university remained closed for a protracted period, especially given the substantial number of foreign students at KNUST.

It said the government had been advised by the REGSEC that without the resolution of the relevant matters, it would not be safe to reopen the university.

The statement explained that the ministry took the view that the Governing Council was not in a position to review its own processes and decisions affecting the student body to guarantee peace.

Subsequently, the Ministry of Education recommended to the government to suspend the university’s Governing Council and establish an Interim Council.

The government subsequently directed the suspension of the KNUST Governing Council and the establishment of a seven-member Interim Management Committee (IMC) chaired by Nana Effah Apenteng, the Paramount Chief of the Bompata Traditional Area.

It said the government unreservedly condemned the damage to private and public properties during the disturbances as unacceptable in any circumstances.

The statement said those who would be found culpable following investigations would be surcharged accordingly.

“It is the expectation of the government that the Interim Council will work assiduously per its terms of reference, culminating in the early reopening of the university to restore normalcy,” it said.