By Iddi Muhayu-Deen .
I honestly think that Ghanaians have had enough of the intransigence of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG0 and Teachers Educational Workers Union (TEWU) on their failure to appreciate the wisdom behind the need to RECONSTITUTE a new Governing Council to man the affairs of the ‘trouble-ridden University’. You don’t need to have a sense of good judgment to know that the old council had completely lost legitimacy for superintending over such gross human rights abuses, draconian regime, organised lawlessness, and institutionalised impunity against their students.
You don’t need a sense of good judgment to know that the old governing council of the university that visited such excruciating and inexplicable injustices upon the students culminating in the violent demonstration of October 22, which led to the closure of the school, CANNOT be brought back. This is so basic and commonsensical that I expect even a primary 3 pupil to understand. So I ask, what at all is the motive of these lecturers and TEWU members for insisting that their reps in the old discredited council should be included in the new yet to be constituted governing council? I am just unable to come to terms with their disingenuous disposition and the poverty of their logic in this conversation.
You want to bring back the old governing council because of whose “recklessness and incompetence”, the ordinary Ghanaian taxpayer is now going to cough up over GHc1.7 which is the estimated cost of the destructions arising from the violent demonstration? Are you serious? And because you are being told that it is unreasonable to do this unthinkable act, you are threatening to withdraw your services and embark on an indefinite strike? Wow! I guess you deserve a clap for this.
But what then happens to the basic principle of people taking responsibility for their actions and inactions? Why do we subject people to disciplinary actions for alleged wrongdoing? How do we, the taxpayers (who are invariably going to pay for these damages) get justice if the very people who caused this mess are allowed to remain at post, whilst the matter is being investigated? How do the students get justice? Since the action(s) of the previous council is a subject-matter for investigation, how can they be investigating themselves? How can they be judges in their own case?
Doesn’t this make nonsense of the uncompromising principle of Natural Justice on the rule against bias which finds expression in the legal maxim, nemo judex in causa sua? Is this not a very fundamental principle of law that is respected and upheld in all jurisdictions? Is this not the very principle upheld by the courts of Ghana in Akufo-Addo v Quarshie Idun, Exparte Mobile, Republic v Constitutional Committee Chairman; Exparte Braimah II, Adzaku v Galenku, Ex-parte Ameyaw II, Sasu v Amua Sakyi and Ex-parte Awusu II among several others?
Okay, since you [UTAG and TEWU] claim you are talking law and due process, let me debate you in your so called comfort zone. Now, we are not talking logic but law. But before that, I wish to admit that I was initially wrong when I said the President and for that matter government was not the appointing authority for the KNUST governing council and therefore, per Article 297 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, government couldn’t have disappointed or dissolved the governing council because it was not the appointing authority.
However, upon some education I got from some lawyer friends of mine and my subsequent reading of Article 70 of the Constitution together with the KNUST Act, (Act 80), I came to the inevitable conclusion that the President [government] was indeed the appointing authority of the KNUST governing council. The other bodies or constituencies only make nominations for the President to exercise the powers vested in him in Article 70 to appoint the persons so nominated into the governing council. Since the President is the appointing authority, he certainly, per Article 279 has the power to disappoint or dissolve the council.
The KNUST Act, however so problematically couched, cannot be read to take away the president’s appointing authority under Article 70 of the Constitution. The constitution is the supreme law of Ghana and per Article 1(2), any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of the Constitution shall be void to the extent of the inconsistency. Also, KNUST, being a public University just like UG, UDS, UEW etc, cannot have an Act that is so inconsistent with the Acts of all the other public Universities particularly in respect of the appointment of members of governing council.
Even with the KNUST Act (Act 80), when the sole Statute Law Revision Commissioner of Ghana, VCRAC Crabbe, whose office revised the Laws of Ghana from 1852 to 2004 in seven volumes, took away the powers of the PNDC Secretary to make appointments into the KNUST council, it failed to specifically mention who was to effect the appointment. The KNUST Act, as it stands now, Section 7(1) of Act 80 only states that, “The governing body of the University shall be the University Council which shall consist of the following members appointed by the PNDC”. It proceeds to mention the members including 7(1)(g), that talks about “a representative of the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution of the University.”
Let anybody tell me whether the PNDC is still in existence and whether it was the PNDC that appointed the members of the council that was recently dissolved. Let anybody tell me whether we had a representative of the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution in the council, as provided by the Act. This only tells us how archaic and inoperative the KNUST Act has become particularly Section 7. It also tells us how Parliament has failed the nation in its law making functions. It appears we pay people “fat fat salaries” for not doing much. Our institutions of state seem not to be working.
I am not surprised that as a nation, we still do not have a single document governing tertiary education in the country, and yet we pride ourselves as the beacon of hope in Africa. How ironic and shameful! Mr. President, this, respectfully, doesn’t make me feel proud to call myself a citizen; perhaps, I’m better off as a spectator if this is all we have to show for being citizens.
So, members of KNUST UTAG and TEWU, you can see clearly that, the only inevitable logical inference that can be drawn from the reading of Section 7 of Act 80 as well as Article 70 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana is that, the President and for that matter the government of Ghana is the appointing authority of the University Council. Nowhere in the KNUST Act does it say that TEWU and UTAG should nominate people to serve on the council. So, if I were to advise government, I would say government should ignore you [KNUST UTAG and TEWU] and go ahead to appoint people from your fold to represent you in the council.
Government has been too magnanimous with you people pleading with you to nominate a representative each for appointment other than the individuals who served in the previous council that caused the mess. Is this a rocket science that you can’t understand? Well, if you think the Asantehene has the legal authority to appoint a governing council that would include your preference, just go ahead and let him do that and inaugurate the council. If you think government is acting unlawfully, just go to court and challenge same. And let’s see whether your internal regulation of choosing a so called council rep is subservient or superior to the laws of Ghana. We are NOT unintelligent people. Enough!!