|Dr Abdulai Baba Salifu|
The immediate past Governing Council Chairman of the University for Development Studies (UDS) Dr. Abdulai Baba Salifu, has urged members of the Northern Region House of Chiefs to take a stand on government’s decision to convert the Navrongo and Wa Campuses of the University into autonomous universities.
The ruling government led by President John Dramani Mahama has made it a policy to establish a university for each of the ten administrative regions of Ghana. The latest on the drawing board is the proposed establishment of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Plans are far advanced for a ground breaking ceremony to pave way for construction to begin.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions of Ghana, each have a campus of the UDS situated at Wa, Navrongo, Tamale and Nyankpala. This was probably a deliberate decision by the government of Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings who in 1992 established the UDS.
The UDS started at Nyankpala in the Northern Region, and later established a campus at Navrongo in the Upper East Region. This was followed by the Wa campus and the latest being the Tamale campus.
Addressing the House of Chiefs, Dr. Salifu argued that, any attempt to convert the Wa and the Navrongo campuses of the UDS, would affect the law establishing it. “The law will change....the vision of the university will also change and even certain courses will not be allowed to run by the university”, he stated.
Dr. Salifu who is also the immediate past Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), appealed to the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Region Houses of Chiefs to take keen interest in the desire by government to decouple the Wa and Navrongo campuses of the UDS and make them autonomous universities.
He suggested government allowed the UDS to remain the way it was and resource it to establish more campuses in addition to the existing four campuses. Apart from that, he said government could also decide to establish totally new universities in the Upper West and Upper East Regions.
A member of the Northern Region House of Chiefs Kumbun-Naa Alhaji Iddrisu Abu commended Dr. Abdulai Baba Salifu for drawing the attention of members of the House to the development surrounding the UDS.
He urged the House to deliberate seriously on the matter and pass a resolution on it. He emphasised that, as traditional leaders and key stakeholders in development, all chiefs ought to have a say regarding government’s decision to do what it intended to do with the UDS.
Established in May 1992 by the Government of Ghana, the UDS exist to blend the academic world with that of the community in order to provide constructive interaction between the two for the total development of Northern Ghana, in particular, and the country as a whole.
It began academic work in September 1993 with the admission of thirty-nine (39) students into the Faculty of Agriculture (FOA), Nyankpala campus. The Faculty of Integrated Development Studies, (FIDS), Faculty of Planning and Land Management (FPLM) and Faculty of Education (FOE), Wa, School of Business, Wa, School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), Tamale, Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources (FRNR), Nyankpala, Faculty of Applied Sciences (FAS), Faculty of Mathematical Sciences (FMS), Navrongo and the Graduate School now in Tamale were phased in from 1994 to date.
UDS is unique compared to other public universities considering its location and multi campuses which are spread out in rural Northern Ghana where the incidence and depth of poverty is high. The UDS has four (4) campuses, seven (7) Faculties, a Business School, one Medical School, one Graduate School and three (3) centres. Several programs are run at these places.