Posted: Tuesday 18th March 2014 at 8:30 am

Legon ‘Idi Amin’ Goes Off Again

Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana is caving an image for himself akin to that of ex-Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin Dada as he blatantly disrespects everybody, including students and other members of the public, who transact business on the university campus, daily.

Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, on Saturday, indeed, blocked all access roads into the nation’s premier university, preventing all vehicles from using the roads, except those with a specialized sticker priced at GH¢400 (¢4 million) annually with “UG” written on them.

He has subsequently, deployed a number of personnel dressed in military-like uniforms, turning away vehicles without the stickers and telling the drivers they have been instructed to do so by the school’s administration.

Prior to the closure of the roads, the Vice Chancellor on February 26, told Commonwealth Hall students to go to hell, insisting he would go ahead with his decision to fix the over 1.3 million Pound Sterling biometric gates in all its buildings and lecture theaters, whether they protested or not.

His snobbish response was in reaction to a petition sent to him by the students, pointing out to him the threats posed by the biometric gates to their safety.

Prof. Aryeetey, had announced that he was going to block the roads on March 15, 2014, after the demolishing of an illegal tollbooth he erected to be collecting money from the road users by the National Security outfit, and true to his words, all access roads into the university, were indeed closed on Saturday.

This reporter, last Saturday witnessed a chaotic scene at the GIMPA section of the university with drivers being driven away by the security personnel, some of who had mounted a temporal barrier in front of the tollbooth inconveniencing both drivers and passengers.

Drivers and passengers were heard, raining insults and curses on the Vice Chancellor, accusing him of behaving as though the university was a country within Ghana.

Meanwhile, it has been identified that Achimota School, have had to ease the stress on road users by allowing a road to be made through the school for use by the public, including lecturers and other workers of the University of Ghana.

Recently, the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) also allowed sections of the Burma Camp roads to be made into a public road to ease the traffic on the La-Teshie to Nungua main road.

In the case of the Biometric Gates, the students of Commonwealth Hall, had vehemently opposed the project saying the specialized gates could compromise their safety. Besides, in the midst of acute water shortage, lack of dormitories, lecture theaters and other teaching and learning facilities, Prof. Aryeetey, was spending huge sums of money to procure doors.

The cost of the biometric gates run into several billion of Cedis, where they were procured, who procured them and whether or not the contract went through a competitive procurement processes are questions on the lips of students, especially those of Commonwealth Hall.

Each of the biometric gates according to the students is estimated at a whopping 50, 000 Pounds Sterling per a hall, and insiders say the University authorities will need 27 pieces of these gates at 1,3350,000 million Pounds Sterling to complete the project.

Prof. Aryeetey, who the students describe as a “dictator” in a reply to the students’ petition said the University wanted to have records of people who enter and exit its facilities at all times for purposes of security.

He explained that the decision has the full backing of the Residence Board and the Business and Executive Committee, stating that already, the two bodies have recommended access control measures in all buildings of the University, hence no turning back on the biometric gates.

“The plan is to install electronically controlled turnstiles in all University buildings, including residential and academic buildings”, the petition said.

The reply which was copied to the Pro-Vice Chancellor, Registrar, Dean of Student Affairs, Hall Master, Commonwealth Hall, Director, PDMSD, Director, Public Affairs said that “the security of students and staff is the responsibility of Management and not that of any other body or group”.

Prof. Aryeetey, reply was dated February 26, 2014; the very same day the students sent their petition. It was sent to him by the President of Junior Common Room (JCR) of Commonwealth Hall, Seth Asampana. It was, however, served on the JCR President on March 3, 2014, suggesting it was backdated.

Meanwhile, Mr. Asampana and colleague students of Commonwealth Hall, where the project is going to be piloted are threatening to use all legal means to resist the project, which they argue is a misplaced priority.

At a meeting held on Thursday evening, the students described the Vice Chancellor’s insistence to install the so-called Biometric Access Control Gates, as very unfortunate, questioning his commitment and technical knowledge to manage the nation’s premier university.

The “Vandals” as they are call had very unkind words for Prof. Aryeetey, regretting how a leader who claims to have the people he leads at heart, will indulge in unnecessary adventures, whilst the students lack basic necessities, such as water, lecture halls, stable power supply, and offices for lecturers and other pressing needs.

They posited “we are being entangled. It is a threat to our education. It is a threat to our intellectual advancement. If we allow Prof. Aryeetey to bring this thing, then we don’t need the degree”.

The students venting out their frustration, also noted the University clinic for instance, lack amenities. They also mentioned that mosquito nets on in the various halls are in shred, questioning why management will turn a blind eye to these pertinent issues and resort to “luxuries”.

In their February 26, 2014 petition to Prof. Aryeetey, the students said “We believe that the resources spent on the procurement of such machines should be used to rather curb and eradicate the rampant water shortages on campus, especially at commonwealth Hall”.

“Also these huge sums, could be used to fast track the provision of lecture rooms to alleviate congestion in our lecture halls in order to provide a congenial atmosphere to advance academic work”, the students advised him.

They insisted that “the installation of the biometric gate in Commonwealth Hall, shall in no way contribute to the advancement of academic work, but will rather create grave inconvenience to students.

“As students who are late for lectures will have to queue to be able to gain access through the biometric gate which in the end will be waste of precious academic time”, the students said, adding “the installation of the biometric gate does not fundamentally address the internal security issues in the Hall”.

“For instance, reported cases of theft in the past, do not have to do with outsiders and certainly the installation of the biometric gate does not in any way mitigate this problem”.

They termed Prof. Aryeetey, insistence to go ahead with the project “as a mere threat”, serving notice they will use all legal and acceptable means to resist the installation, just like the recent road tollbooth levy.

Some of the students, even begged the National Security Coordinator, Lt. Col. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey to come to their aid by stopping the Vice Chancellor.

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