Nana Addo must consider the wise counsel from Asantehene-Dr. Apaak

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Member of Parliament for Builsa South, Dr. Clement Apaak, has admonished the president to consider the appeal to consult broadly before presenting the Universities Bill before parliament for passage.

The legislator commended the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II for calling on the president to consult broadly considering the interest the bill has generated.

The Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has admonished the government to consult broadly before presenting the draft University Bill to parliament.

The traditional ruler who is also the Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science Technology (KNUST) underscored the need for government to consult broadly due to the interest the bill has generated.

“The interest generated by the general public in the bill should give a strong signal to the government to accommodate divergent views being expressed by key stakeholders such as the Vice Chancellors Ghana, University Teachers Association of Ghana and Members of Convocation across all the public universities,” he said.

“Ultimately, the concerns and interest of all major stakeholders must be seen to have been taken on board in the final draft for the sake of harmony and industrial peace on campuses. All stakeholders must respect the views of others and avoid must confrontation and consolidation of positions on the bill.”

“I strongly urge the government to allow further and broader consultations in order to iron out any grey areas before the bill is placed before parliament for consideration,” the Chancellor who was speaking during a graduation ceremony at KNUST for postgraduate students added.

Among other things the bill seeks “to provide the procedure for the establishment of Public Universities, principles of management of Public universities, the legal status of Public universities, the procedure for financing Public universities and administration and supervision of the activities of Public universities and related matters.”

Also, the draft bill gives the president the power to dissolve the university council which will now have the power to appoint a chancellor.

The Bill also gives effect to the University Council to control the finances of the university and determine the allocation of funds.

Commenting on the call by the traditional leader, Dr. Apaak said: “The King is right in pointing out that the interest generated by the general public in the bill should give a strong signal to the government to accommodate divergent views being expressed by key stakeholders such as the Vice Chancellors Ghana, University Teachers Association of Ghana and Members of Convocation across all the public universities.

“I pray that the President will agree, as the King noted, that “Ultimately, the concerns and interest of all major stakeholders must be seen to have been taken on board in the final draft for the sake of harmony and industrial peace on campuses. All stakeholders must respect the views of others and must avoid confrontation and consolidation of positions on the bill.”

The legislator insisted the president must consider the wise counsel from the King and desist from sending the “needless” draft.

“However, if the President continuous to insist on getting the NEEDLESS draft Public Universities Bill to parliament, and to surely use his majority to pass a NEEDLESS bill into law, then he should consider the wise counsel of Otumfuo.”

Read below the full statement from the MP

Otumfuo On Public Universities Bill – Folks, I write with sincere admiration for the King of Asante, Otumfuo Osei Tutu on his recent comments on the proposed Public Universities Bill.

The willingness and ability of Otumfuo to speak truth to political power regardless of which party is in power must be emulated. My respect for Otumfuo increases by the day in light of the refusal of many other emminent/respected citizens to speak out on obvious matters of national concern. Other Ghanaian leaders: political, traditional, statesmen, men of God/clergy, and even union leaders, seem to have developed a phobia to speak truth to the current political power. Sometimes you have no choice but suspect that the otherwise usually vocal voices are under hypnosis or some inducements by the current Preisent and his NPP government.

In fact, emminent academics, current and retired, as well as other stakeholders in Higher Education, including unions, have raised grave concerns on what the President is proposing to do in the draft bill. What has been the response of President Akufo-Addo to the spontaneous and collective concerns and reactions to his proposal? He calls those who had the courage to express concerns names. He described thier concerns as borne of mischief, he says they are disingenuous. He is yet to apologise!

As I asked and will ask again, has any of our Public Universities complained that it is unable to govern itself with its current ACT? Has the Nana Addo led government received any petition from the Association of Vice Chancellors, a University Council, a Union (UTAG, TEWU, SRC, NUGS), an Alumni Association or Parents, suggesting that the current Acts are deficient or have become mortally incapable of ensuring the effective administration or management of the various public universities? No!

So, one may ask, what is motivating the President to fix a NON existing problem? The only plausible reason for this needless expedition is to put our public universities under the whims and caprices of the Executive arm of Government. To give him, the President, control over academia. And by extension take away the independence that is required to ensure academic freedom in our universities, as key stakeholders have hinted.

And that is why the call by the King and Chancellor of KNUST that all views must be considered regarding the proposed Public Universities Bill is highly commendable. His call on the President to consult broadly and incorporate the views of all stakeholders in the draft Public Universities Bill to ensure peace and tranquillity on the various university campuses in the country is refreshing.

The King is right in pointing out that the interest generated by the general public in the bill should give a strong signal to the government to accommodate divergent views being expressed by key stakeholders such as the Vice Chancellors Ghana, University Teachers Association of Ghana and Members of Convocation across all the public universities.

I pray that the President will agree, as the King noted, that “Ultimately, the concerns and interest of all major stakeholders must be seen to have been taken on board in the final draft for the sake of harmony and industrial peace on campuses. All stakeholders must respect the views of others and must avoid confrontation and consolidation of positions on the bill.”

Folks, when a wise King speaks, he leaves no room for ambiguity. Otumfuo has strongly urged the government to allow further and broader consultations in order to iron out any grey areas before the bill is placed before parliament for consideration!

The grey areas are many indeed, and while Ghanaians wait to see how the President reacts to the wise counsel of the King, I maintain that the bill is needless, the stakeholders have not complained. I have long argued that the proposed Public Universities Bill President Nana Akufo-Addo is seeking parliament to eventually sanction into law, currently undergoing “consultation”, if accepted in its current form, will be calamitous, indeed disastrous, for University Education in Ghana.

However, if the President continuous to insist on getting the NEEDLESS draft Public Universities Bill to parliament, and to surely use his majority to pass a NEEDLESS bill into law, then he should consider the wise counsel of Otumfuo.

I remain a citizen.

Dr. Clement Apaak
M.P, Builsa South and Deputy Ranking Member, Committee on Education

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