UTAG, Convocation at UEW call for head of council chair as tension at the University escalates

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There is tension at the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) as members of the University Teachers Association and members of Convocation clashes with the Governing Council Chairman over the termination of appointment of the Finance Director.

They say unilateral and unconstitutional acts of the Governing Council Chairman, Nana Osei Ansah, would plunge the university into chaos if government does not intervene.

The members of the convocation of UEW and UTAG want the Ministry of Education to intervene by ensuring a withdrawal of what they call all illegitimate and unilateral termination of the appointments by the council chair and the new vice-chancellor.

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The two bodies within the university also want government to withdraw Nana Ansah as council chair of the University because he’s unfit for purpose.

Below is a joint statement by UTAG UEW and CONVONCATION:

Joint Press Statement by UEW Convocation Representatives on Council on Recent Happenings in the University and on the Conduct of the Chairman of the Governing Council, Nana Ofori-Ansah I

This Press Statement has been necessitated by recent developments in the University of Education, Winneba, over the period of the reconstitution of the new UEW Governing Council under the chairmanship of Nana Ofori Ansah I, and relating to events immediately preceding and after the Winneba High Court ruled on the reinstatement of some dismissed staff of UEW.

This Courtruling with its consequential orders, over the last few weeks, has resulted in several infractions with different interpretations put on the ruling or orders as issued by the Court and the way and manner the Governing Council of the University,especially through its Chairman,has handled the issues.

The outcome of the various actions taken by the Chairman of the Governing Council has left so much to be desired. The Chairman’s actions have created unease, tension, and confusion within the University.

Even though it had been the wish of the University that the implementation of the Court orders would have been carried out smoothly to bring about peace, unity, and reconciliation, the hasty implementation of the orders engineered by the Chairman without any stakeholder engagement and consultation and the consequential realities on the ground point to the fact that the Chairman has thrown the University into more confusion than he inherited.

The outcome is that in the past few weeks, one issue after another emanating from a series of letters and releases from the Chairman since the reinstatement process was initiated unilaterally by him has led to friction, differences, confrontations and misunderstanding between the Chairman and some Principal Officers of the University, especially the substantive Finance Officer; between the Vice-Chancellor and the substantive Finance Officer; between the former Finance Officer and the incumbent Finance Officer; between Council Chairman and the Finance Officer; and, between the Chairman and the Registrar.

These serious issues of differences between some members of Management and the Chairman of the Governing Council based on the Chairman’s own unilateral and bulldozer approach to solving issues should be addressed expeditiously otherwise, they could spell doom for the institution because of the unnecessary tension brewing in the University. 

Indeed, certain directives and decisions relative to appointments, reassignmentsand termination of appointmenthave been taken unilaterally without due recourse or reference to laid down rules and regulations enshrined in the University of Education Act 2004 (Act 672) and the Statutes.

These directives, most of which emanate from the Council Chairman but do not follow due process and procedure, need urgent attention and resolution.

Some of the worrisome infractionsinclude:

  1. Before the High Court ruling, the Council Chairman met with union leaders, group after group, in sessions he labelled as peacebuilding and familiarisation. In these sessions, he mentioned the possibility of a landmark court ruling that could redefine the leadership of the University. In his meeting with one such group, he used a loaded Akan phrase to summarise his message- to quote him, he said“adanma wo maameawona y3aka s3 wo nuani” to wit, “all that matters is that your mum has a new baby whom you call your sibling”. He was, obviously referencing the outcome of the Court that led to the reinstatement of the dismissed officers with so much subtle optimism. This was one clear week or so before the court ruling. In hindsight, how the Chairman of the Council could preempt a landmark court ruling way before the same was delivered by the judge is mind-boggling.
  2. Per the UEW Act 2004 (Act 672), the Council Chairman is not an officer of the University and therefore has no formal office or Secretariat. There is therefore no letterhead in the University labelled for the office of the Council Chairman. This Chairman has, however, on his own and without recourse to the Registrar’s Secretariat that serves as the Secretariat of the Governing Council, created his own letterhead labelled “Office of the Council Chairman” and has used same to unilaterally terminate the appointment of the substantive Finance Officer, Mr. Francis Obeng in this great University. Since the Court ruling and through his haste to implement the Court orders the Chairman has been issuing letters, operating and communicating with the University and the media with a letterhead purported to emanate from the Office of the Registrar, with and without reference numbers, and untraceable to any UEW Registry. So farsuch letters have been issued and none authentically comes from the office of the Registrar’s Secretariat even though they all bear the coloured letterhead of that office. Indeed all the letterhead in so far as they do not emanate from the Registrar’s Secretariat can be deemed fake.
  3. A letter from the office of the Vice-Chancellor supposedly appointing Dr. Theophilus Senyo Ackorlie to a position parallel to the substantive Finance Officer, a Principal Officer’s position had been issued. The content of this appointment is an affront to both the Statutes and the Act governing the establishment of the University, UEW Act 2004 (Act 672). The Act gives the authority for the appointment of the Finance Officer and Head of Finance Section to the Governing Council upon a Council resolution on such appointment. In this instance, in spite of the Court Orders to reinstate the Vice-Chancellor to his vacant seat and to the other 5 officers to their grade and not necessarily to their offices: for the avoidance of doubt the Winneba High Court Ruling contained the following orders:

An order directly directed at the Respondent University particularly to the Governing Council to reinstate Prof. MawutoAvoke to the vacant position of a substantive Vice-Chancellor as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Education, Winneba following the exoneration from the procurement breaches according to the Economic and OrganisedCrime(EOCO) Reportto enablehimto complete his term with the few months that he has to retire.

ii. an order directing the Respondent University, particularly its Governing Council to reinstate the 5 (five) affected staff, namely,

  1. Dr. THEOPHILUS SENYO ACKORLIE
  2. FRANK OWUSU BOATENG
  3. SENA DAKE
  4. MARY DZIMEY
  5. ING DANIEL TETTEY

     To their employment in the University on their grade but not necessarily to their last offices.

Iii. An order directed at the Respondent University to pay the basic salary of the affected staff from the day they were asked to step aside to the day of resumption.

       iv. The orders given are forthwith”

  • It is clear from the reading of the orders that nowhere did Court order the termination or variation of the appointment of the substantive Finance Officer and Head of Finance,Mr. Francis Obeng, to make room for the appointment of Dr. Theophilus SenyoAckorlie.
  • Nevertheless, the Council Chairman, without recourse to Council, acting through the Vice-Chancellor and in flagrant violation and defiance of the Court orders appointed Dr. Theophilus SenyoAckorlie as the Head of the Finance Section, Finance Officer and instigated an unnecessary clash at the FinanceDirectorate. This action generated huge uproar and condemnation upon which the letter had to be withdrawn/overwritten only for another to be reissued in a similar fashion a few days after the withdrawal, on the tacit instructions of the Council Chairman.
  • As representatives of Convocation, we are aware of the Council Chairman’s unilateral decisions without due regard to established rules resulting in almost every meeting of the Council ending in stalemates, suspicions, and unnecessary banter amongst members is creating division rather than unity. Such authoritative behaviour of the Council Chairman must be abated by his appointing authorities as same has poured fuel on the already tense situation on Campus.
  • We need to put on record that the inconclusive Council meeting held on the 24th of February 2022 on the matter of substantive Finance Officer position, and the unilateral decision of the Council Chairman to terminate the appointment of the substantive Finance Officer, Mr. Francis Obeng, without assigning any tangible reason, without due process and without recourse or reference to the Governing  Council but on his personal decision and accord is dictatorial, authoritarian,wrong administratively, illegitimate, and a slap in the face of university administrative principles. This act of his must be condemned and reversed immediately. The body and spirit of the said letter was again in bad taste as it sought to dispose of a Principal Officer with a requirement to hand over an entire University Finance Office and its operations, within an hour. We are urging the substantive Finance to stay put as the substantive Finance Officer as the said letter is a nullity. The Chairman of the Governing Council does not have any legitimate power to unilaterally terminate the appointment of a Finance Officer or any Principal Officer or indeed any Senior Member or staff of the University.
  • One innovative Reconciliation Committee set up by the brief administration of Prof. Andy Ofori-Birikorang, then as Acting Vice-Chancellor, to receive and investigate petitions from the university community aimed at fostering peace and reconciliation was subsumed by a newly established Council Reconciliation Sub-committee on the proposal of the Council Chairman,and was tasked to take over all petitions presented to the First Committee in addition to allmatters relating to the reinstatement of the 5 dismissed University staff who were to be placed “on their grades and not necessarily to their last offices”, as per the Winneba High Court Ruling. This new Council Sub-Committee was thus responsible, in principle, to advise Council on the placement of the Finance Officer, among others. The Council Chairman repossessed the powers of this ably constituted Sub-Committee which membership include the Director-General of the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC)- and used the repossession to arrogate unto himself the power that led to the termination of the appointment of the Finance Officer, Mr. Francis Obeng.
  • Under the pretext of advice from the Attorney General, the Council Chairman stated among other things that the valid and uncontroverted appointment of Mr. Francis Obeng could be terminated or withdrawn to make room for the appointment of Dr. Theophilus SenyoAckorlie- an opinion/advice that in several Council members opinion runs contrary to the spirit of the Winneba High Court Ruling. That the interpretation of a High Court ruling would be sought at the Attorney General’s (AG)Office and the constant mention of the Attorney General in matters of Council deliberations, have been too regular, intimidating and unfair under the leadership of the current Council Chairman. The Chairman has over the period shown a lack of appreciation of the proper administrative and governance procedures in tertiary institutions and our University in particular.
  • Another issue of dire concern is the absurd postponement of the election of Convocation Representatives to the Governing Council. This is seen as a deliberate ploy to deny Convocation rightful place on Council in a bid to gag dissenting opinions or voices on matters that affect members of Convocation and the University as a whole. How could the Vice-Chancellor, without any assigned reason, postpone indefinitely the Convocation election which was to elect four of our members to represent Convocation on Council? How could the Council Chairman in connivance with the Vice-Chancellor, and in flagrant disregard of established rules and conventions take such a decision when the term of Convocation members on Council was to end on Monday, 28th February, 2022?What could be the motive when the election isn’t causing any problems?Even when the Registrar has in a letter to the Vice-Chancellor rationalised why the Convocation elections should not be postponed, such wise administrative advice has been thrown away and the elections as of now remain postponed. These are all orchestrated by the Council Chairman to have his way to execute a particular agenda. His autocratic and dictatorial handling of affairs of the University does not portray him as someone who has the peace of the University at heart.

We, therefore, call on the Government and the Sector Ministry to intervene and, with immediate effect,ensure a withdrawal of the illegitimate unilaterally written letter terminating the appointment of theFinance Officer, and in pursuit of peace,  unity and reconciliation of this great university recall and withdraw the appointment of Nana Ofori Ansah I as theChairman of the Governing Council of UEW. His short reign has been divisive, dictatorial, and authoritarian with an unbridled penchant for using a bulldozer approach to pursuea hidden agenda.

It must be stated emphatically that such administrative infractions by the Council Chairman has never happened in the history of this University nor known to have occasioned in any of the sister Public Universities in Ghana.

It is upon this and many other matters that are creating tension in the University and foreboding imminent acts of vindictiveness and victimisation expected to be unleashed on certain targeted staff, that as concerned Senior Members of the University, we feel obligated to speak out and not sitaloof in the face of these current happenings.

We,consequently, call on the Government through the Minister of Education to immediately, in order to foster peace, unity and true reconciliation call the Chairman of Council and the Vice-Chancellor to order to avert any catastrophic event that could mar the peaceful environment. We further call on the government through the Minister and other agencies to get to the ground on a fact-finding mission to ascertain the reality and not to give in to deceptions and lies from any quarters who for obvious selfish interestscould paint an entirely different picture.

We equally demand the immediate holding of the Convocation elections to elect our representatives to Council without further delay and call on the Vice-Chancellor to withdraw the letter that has sought to postpone the elections indefinitely.

There is presently, pent-up feelings of seething anger amongst colleague staff such that any delay or failure on the part of the Government/Minister to act immediately may result in internal explosion and chaos which would make the institution ungovernable.

We, nevertheless, call on the University community to remain calm. We also encourage our cherished community to keep hope alive and focus on the vision and mission of the University as we trust that all these unfortunate issues would be appropriately resolved in the pursuit of lasting peace at UEW.

Long Live UEW

Long Live Ghana

Thank you.

Signed

Mr. Eric SakyiNketiah                                                         

President-UTAG and Convocation Representativeon Governing Council                          

Dr. (Mrs) Beth Offei-Awuku

President of GAUA and Convocation Representative on Governing Council

Cc

The President, Republic of Ghana

The Chief of Staff

The Minister of Education

The Ghana Tertiary Education Commission

The Media

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