UTAG, unions blame govt for KNUST new council inauguration delay

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong
The Chancellor of KNUST - Otumfuo Osei Tutu II
The Chancellor of KNUST - Otumfuo Osei Tutu II

The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has blamed the government for delaying the inauguration of a new council for the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

According to UTAG, it has gathered that government was not happy with the fact that all the unions who have representation on the university council have decided to maintain their representatives with the explanation that they were elected to serve a fixed term and cannot be changed until their various terms in office were over.

The President of UTAG, Dr Eric Opoku Mensah made the allegation in a radio interview with Radio Ghana on Friday afternoon.

The KNUST Council is made up of 15 members of four government representatives, the Vice Chancellor and 10 institutional representation.

This is the membership of the old council:

The four (4) government representatives were

  • Prof Emeritus Kwame Sarpong, Chairman Govt rep
  • Dr O.K. Kankam Govt rep
  • Dr C.K. Boadu Govt rep
  • Mrs Abena Antwi Govt rep

Others (11) 

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  • Vice Chancellor - Prof Kwasi Obiri Danso - Vice Chancellor
  • Convocation (Professorial) - Prof J Ayarkwa
  • Convocation (Non professorial) - Dr I. Dadzie
  • NCTE (National Council for Tertiary Education) -Dr E. Baffoe Bonnie
  • UTAG (University Teachers Association of Ghana) - Prof E.K. Fokuo
  • Alumni - Ms Eunice Akosua Amoako
  • CHASS - Conference of Heads of Assisted Senior High Schools - Alhaji Y.A.B. Abbubakar
  • TEWU - Tertiary and Education Workers Union - Mr Charles Arthur
  • GRASSAG - Graduate Students Association of Ghana - Mr A. Poku-Adu
  • SRC - Students Representative Council - Kevin Sah
  • Registrar [Secretary to the Council] - A.K. Boateng

The new council was expected to be inaugurated Friday morning but as of 5pm, there was no show.

Related: Otumfuo kicks against KNUST council dissolution - Sources

UTAG explanation

Commenting, Dr Eric Opoku Mensah said the date for the re-opening of the university resides with the new council, since the term of the Interim Management Council (IMC) which took over from the old governing council last week ends today, November 2, 2018.

“When UTAG met a government delegation last Monday to resolve the impasse, it was resolved that by Wednesday all parties – unions and government - should submit their nominees, then on Friday the council will be inaugurated.”

Dr Mensah said UTAG and the other unions have done exactly that and clarified that the unions did not agree that they were going to change their representatives.

He said if things do not change then the unions may advice members and the strike could be reintroduced.

Meanwhile, Graphic Online has gathered that CHASS was working to change its representative.

"As at yesterday [Thursday], we heard that government has still not submitted its nominees on the basis that government is unhappy with the names that have been submitted by the unions, so that has resulted in the delay in inaugurating the council," Dr Opoku Mensah said.

"So as at now, we are waiting for the government to submit the names so that the Chancellor will go ahead and inaugurate the council and it was on the basis of the agreement between UTAG and the government that we called our members to stand down on the strike action, to make sure that there is smooth transition so that teaching and learning could continue," Dr Mensah said.

The President of UTAG said, “what I know is that they [govt] are unhappy because the unions have still brought names of their representatives who were serving on the old council and the unions are saying that, when the SRC president, UTAG president and TEWU chairman, they are all elected to serve term and that if you say you don’t want them to be part of council, because they served on the old council, then what it means is that government is trying to determine how the unions should select people to represent them on the council."

"When you are a union leader and you serve on the council, you can only do that for two terms. Now, for example, the President of UTAG on the council is serving a second term and he is supposed to leave the council by next year, when UTAG holds an election to elect a new president.

"So if government is saying that as a member of the old council he cannot represent UTAG on this new council, invariably what government is saying is that UTAG has elected a president who is Prof Fokuo but Prof Fokuo should sit down and UTAG should go and nominate somebody else to come and serve.

"It has never happened in the history of our public universities before, so we are worried and this is going to affect the other unions and we don’t think that is the right procedure and we are asking that if the unions are unhappy with those who serve on the council that right is still reserved for the unions to determine same.

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