|Dr. Michael Ayamga Adongo|
A Lecturer of the University for Development Studies (UDS) Dr. Michael Ayamga Adongo, has called on Ghanaians and for that matter citizens of the North, to question the credentials of the ruling government if the University is dismembered by Executive Instrument.
According to him, there was a reason why every member of faculty in the University was engaged by the Department and not the Vice Chancellor. “For a University and its Vice Chancellor to suddenly receive visitors and get invitations to Accra to discuss the breakup of the faculties is not something we could even contemplate under a military dictatorship.
“A University is more than its campuses and buildings. Its institutions and faculties take years of painstaking processes to build. Its credibility is borne out of a tradition of unity in diversity (university). Therefore, the thought of universities as homogenous and regional based institutions defeat the purpose for which they exist”, Dr. Adongo said these in an exclusive interview with Savannahnews in Tamale.
Dr. Adongo who is a Development Economist and lectures in the Faculty of Agribusiness and Communication Sciences at the Nyankpala Campus of the UDS emphasised that: “It is for the purposes of protecting academic freedoms that every course mounted in a University is initiated, tabled and defended by Departments. Otherwise, we will be forced to mount courses and teach government propaganda”, he pointed out.
He noted that, the decision to break up the UDS if even necessary should be a broad process initiated by Departments through to the University Council, Ministry of Education, Parliament and then the Presidency. “The fact that the Presidency welcomed and initiated the processes to break up an autonomous university is against the spirit and letter of democratic governance”, he said.
He maintained that, flouting the constitutional provision establishing the UDS by taking away its freedom to develop generically was the same as flouting the entire Constitution of Ghana from which government derives its legitimacy. “Government may bring resources to build structures but government cannot in less than 20 years bring back the University’s credibility that would be damaged”, he observed.
A former student of the UDS, Dr. Adongo proposed that two new semi-autonomous University Colleges should rather be established and affiliated to the UDS. “The UDS would then nurture and wean off these colleges. It is as easy as that”, he said.
|Prof. Gabriel Ayum-Teye, VC, UDS|
The incidences leading to the proposed breaking up of the UDS, according to Dr. Michael Ayamga Adongo, gives many peace loving Ghanaians a big reason to worry. “If indeed it succeeds it would have far reaching implications for social cohesion and peaceful coexistence across communities in this country. It would sow seeds of unrest and protestations. No region, district or ethnic group should be allowed to conceive the notion that national institutions located within their boundaries are their bonafide property and that they could annex these institutions by putting pressure on government.
“Today it is the UDS. Tomorrow it would be the group in the Volta Region calling for their own homeland. Other regions hosting national institutions and strategic natural resources would soon follow suit. In any case, the University of Ghana has worker's colleges across the regions. That would have been a good place to start”, he noted.
“I have received calls from colleague alumni expressing a willingness to go to the Supreme Court over this issue. I was not too enthused with the proposal. It may be time to reconsider my stance”, he fumed.
President John Dramani Mahama in his “Accounting to The People” tour of the Upper West Region last week, announced that a Committee of Experts working on the conversion of the UDS campuses into autonomous Universities had completed its work and submitted a report for execution.
The president hinted that government would by 2017 declare three of UDS Campuses, Wa Campus, Navrongo Campus and Tamale Campus– autonomous as soon as decisions were finalised.
The decision by government to convert these Campuses into separate autonomous Universities, Savannahnews understands, is to fulfil the promise by the former to provide each region with a public University.
Established in May 1992 by the Government of Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, 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.