I have read with considerable dismay, anguish
and disbelief, calls made by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Minority Caucus in Parliament for Pope Francis to reassign Rev. Fr. Prof. Anthony Afful-Broni from his current position as Vice Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba .
Ordinarily, I would not spend precious energy and time to write on a matter which is quite inconsequential to me.
But I am not only bothered by the ongoing impasse on the university campus at Winneba but I am also compelled by the demands of charity, clarity and justice laid on me by the gospel to write to inform our Catholic faithful in Ghana and all men and women of good will who desire to know and understand, to be aware of false information, misinformation and mischievous political propaganda that is going on with the impasse at Winneba, while requesting humbly that all stakeholders, including the Government and the Minority in Ghana and those who are in unique positions to help bring closure to the current problems at Winneba, refrain from the pursuit of parochial partisan interests and act with national interest first to speedily resolve the ongoing impasse at Winneba before it degenerates any further.
Brief Genesis of the Current Impasse at Winneba
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The problems of Winneba did not start today but go a long way. Somewhere in 2015, there was a court case brought against the then
In August 2018, Fr. Prof Afful-Broni was appointed the substantive Vice Chancellor of the University following the dismissal of a court case brought by the above-mentioned university officers who were interdicted in July 2017. Even though the lawyers of the dismissed officers served notice that there was a Supreme Court case due to be heard on the matter and that the induction of the Vice Chancellor should not go ahead, cautioning that the President would stand in breach of the law if he did attend the investiture, Fr. Prof. Afful-Broni was nonetheless inducted into office as the 4th Vice Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba, on September 17, 2018 at a ceremony attended by the President who in his speech urged him to unite the factions on campus to bring about rapid development in ensuring smooth, uninterrupted academic work.
From the time of the induction till the beginning of February this year, things seemed to have calmed down and everything seemed to be on course until the middle part of
Some Issues Raised in Minority’s Press Statement and A Catholic Priest’s Response
The Press Statement of the Minority Caucus in Parliament was issued on March 28,
They cite reasons for this conviction and their call for his ouster as “incompetence, abuse of office, corruption, spiteful insolence and inability to resolve the impasse he birthed and nurtured.” Following this assertion, the Minority Caucus goes on to say, “Undoubtedly, Prof. Afful-Broni is personally responsible for the negative developments on the UEW campus and therefore cannot be part of the solution.” They then call on the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) as well as the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to investigate several allegations leveled against him. The Caucus then recommends that Pope Francis as head of the Catholic Church should recall and reassign Fr. Prof. Afful-
Without a doubt, one will be right in describing the issues raised by the Minority Caucus in Parliament in their Press Statement are interesting and intriguing. But on a personal level and with regard to the references to the Pope and the Catholic Church by extension, I daresay that the arguments the Minority Caucus makes are pathetic, mischievous and misplaced.
First and foremost, the Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Coast to which Fr. Prof. Afful-Broni is incardinated, the Church in Ghana and the world as a whole do not consider Fr. Prof. Afful-
If this is not
It is important to emphasise here that while some may not like his style of leadership or administration, we must be fair in our assessment of the man and not deny the fact that he has worked very hard since he was appointed a lecturer at the university and has justified himself while serving in all the capacities he had served over the years.
If only a handful of our politicians will work as hard as he had done with the resources at their disposal, I believe Ghana will be a far better place than it is today. While the Minority Caucus in Parliament is entitled to their opinion of his work as “an embarrassment”, unfortunately, this is not how most people see him and it is certainly not how the Catholic Church in Ghana sees him.
We consider him a great asset who will have a lot to contribute to the Church in Ghana and beyond when his work at the university is done. Secondly, the Minority Caucus in Parliament seems to be confusing issues in trying to find who to blame for the current woes facing the university at Winneba.
In one breath, they state that Fr. Prof. Afful-Broni is “solely and personally responsible for the negative developments on the UEW campus” but in another breath, they blame the problem on the entrenched positions adopted by the University Council and the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), local and national chapters. What approach is the Minority Caucus using? Is it an “either-or approach” or a “both-and” approach? If it is a both-and approach, then why is the Caucus saying that Fr. Prof. Afful-Broni is personally and solely responsible for the impasse. I think that in matters of such national importance, we must not sound confusing but always show clarity in thought and word.
Lastly, I consider as intriguing the part in the Minority Caucus’ Press Statement where they call on the Pope to recall and reassign Fr. Prof. Afful-Broni. Really? Since when did the Pope become a police officer, assigning and reassigning Catholic priests in the world?
The Minority in Parliament must read to know how the Catholic Church in the world with over 1.3 billion members, works.
The Church works with the principle of subsidiarity which among others teaches that issues that are better handled at the lowest possible level should be handled there and not taken over by the larger entity.
As a result, we work from the local parishes to (Arch)Dioceses, the National Conference, Regional Conferences, Continental Conferences before we reach Rome. It is pathetic that the Caucus bypasses the Archdiocese of Cape Coast to which Fr. Prof. Afful-Broni is incardinated, bypasses the Bishops’ Conference and goes all the way to Rome as if the Pope has nothing to do when at this moment, he is paying a papal visit to Morocco.
It is important for the Minority Caucus in Parliament to understand that the Pope has a bigger agenda in the light of his God-given mandate to guide and shepherd the flock of God entrusted to his care. Therefore, they should leave him out of their political agenda just as they should leave the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference too. Rev. Fr. Prof. Afful-Broni was not appointed by the pope or for that matter the Bishops’ Conference, and so the call for his dismissal should be reserved for the appointing authority without dragging the pope’s name into it for mischievous political ends.
Conclusion on Way Forward
It is important that we all work to find an urgent solution to the current impasse on the Winneba campus and not waste any further time. I submit that all the stakeholders entrusted with ensuring that university education at Winneba in particular and Ghana as a whole runs smoothly and uninterruptedly, particularly, the Council for Tertiary Education, the Ministry of Education and the various University Councils, must be proactive and step up their game in executing their job.
This author is not a spokesperson for Fr. Prof. Afful-
What I am concerned about is the political football that some politicians and political parties in Ghana are playing with the crisis at Winneba, and I write to caution that in pursuing this agenda, care must be taken not to drag the Pope or the Catholic Church in Ghana into the mess. The Pope and the Church have a bigger agenda and it is in the light of this conviction that I consider the call by the Minority Caucus to the pope to recall and reassign Rev. Prof. Afful-
The writer, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Abbey-Quaye Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA.