General News of Monday, 17 July 2017
There is confusion at the University of Education Winneba branch of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) as lecturers prepare to defy orders by their leadership to embark on a strike on Monday.
UTAG declared a strike after a Winneba High Court on Friday ordered the Vice Chancellor, and the Chief Finance Officer to hand over to the Pro-Vice Chancellor.
The High Court in Winneba ordered Professor Mawutor Avokeh and the Chief Finance Officer to step aside until a case brought against him is determined.
The two were asked to step aside as per a suit filed by Supi Kofi Kwayera which obtained a declaration dissolving the University’s Governing Council and, as such, rendering the positions of Vice Chancellor and Chief Finance Officer vacant.
But some lecturers say the strike is uncalled for.
Read below a statement released by the UEW Lecturers on the matter, justifying their decision to defy the strike order.
OF DISHONESTY, BAD LEADERSHIP, AND SELF INTEREST: THE CASE OF UTAG-UEW LEADERSHIP
Majority of UEW lecturers have been quietly following and monitoring the goings on of the court matters involving our great UEW. It is important to first note that this quiet and cool attitude of the majority of lecturers should not be interpreted to mean lack of concern. It is rather a trait of people who are mature and deep in thoughts. Let no one make the mistake of considering this trait to mean docility or weakness.
Upon all the priding of ourselves with intellectualism, it had to take Mr Supi Kwayera (whom we shamelessly claim is an akpeteshie seller) to open our eyes to Procurement breaches and illegalities in our own University! Are we not ashamed of ourselves? Or have we been blinded by intellectualism? When, way back in 2013, the Hon Alex Afenyo Markin started drawing government and our attention to the ramifications of an improperly constituted governing council, where were we? Shame on us!!
Since May 23rd, 2017, when the writ was issued and our University started going to court, no UTAG general meeting has been held; yet, it was said at one point that UTAG wanted to join the case. Those 2 or 3 executives went ahead and hired an attorney. When our case was subsequently thrown out and UTAG was fined GHC 3,000 as well (which we presume will come from our dues) no UTAG meeting was held to even brief us on anything.
Then, when today, 14th July 2017, the Winneba High Court among other things, ordered the VC and FO to step aside, we hear on the radio that UTAG-UEW has declared an indefinite strike, again, without any consultation with the general UTAG population.
What kind of leaders do we have on UTAG-UEW, and what do they take us for? You (UTAG Executives) cannot arrogate to yourselves powers that you do not have. We elected you into office and gave you the mandate to conduct yourselves properly! You cannot sit in your bedrooms and decide for us! Why do you disrespect us like that? We want to assure you that you will cough out every pesewa that you have wasted on this useless and unwarranted legal fight because we never gave you permission to go to court.
It is clear that you knew we would not agree going to court, so you refused to hold a general meeting. It is also clear that you, the so called executives, are seeking Your Own personal interests; but we want to assure you that, you will not use us to advance your selfish agenda. Be assured that your days of this wanton arrogation of nonexistent power are over, so prepare to meet the full fury of the general membership.
We wish, on this note, to assure the general public and the whole world that, UTAG-UEW IS NOT ON STRIKE. Members on all our campuses (Ajumako, Mampong, Kumasi, Winneba) are not in favour of this illegal strike, and anyone can visit our campuses on Monday and you will see lecturers working.
We wish, furthermore, to inform all our Sandwich Students to disregard this hoax strike and come to school. The purported strike is for the selfish UTAG-UEW executives, who have failed already in the discharge of their duties as leaders and we will not make them our leaders again.
They have neglected their core duties to fight for members’ welfare and they are now fighting for their own selfish interests. If you do not believe us, come and see the kind of living and office accommodations we occupy; with porous security, coupled with the injustices meted out to us, then you will know the kind of UTAG executives we have!
When the Registrar of the University, Dr C. Y. Acquah-Mensah told us not too long ago that as lecturers we did not need offices, and that we could sit under trees or in our cars and work; to the extent that an office complex built for lecturers was taken away from us and converted to Office of the Registrar, what did our leaders do? It shows you the kind of UTAG executives we have!!!
We will not allow you, few self-seeking leeches and vampires, to destroy where we take our daily bread. The University is running and will run. Do not dare try anything funny this time else you will regret it.
We are also calling on the government to constitute our Governing Council as soon as possible!
The Facts Concerning UEW Principal Officers
1. By the Statutes of UEW, the Pro-VC is the only Principal Officer who is elected by Convocation
2. To contest his first election, the current Pro-VC (with two others) was nominated by the former VC but not the current embattled VC.
3. According to the UEW Statutes, an incumbent Pro-VC is mandatorily qualified to contest the election for second term with two other nominees by the VC. Therefore the current embattled VC had no option to nominate the current Pro-VC for the second term
4. Since the position of the Pro-VC is by election of a simple majority, the University Governing Council is bound to ratify the electoral decision of Convocation
5. It follows therefore that if the position of the current VC is declared by the Winneba High Court as illegal because he was approved by an illegal council, his illegality does not affect the position of the current Pro- VC who was validly elected.
6. The court is right in accordance with the UEW Statutes to ask the Pro-VC to hold the fort while the VC has been asked to step aside.
7. It is interesting to note that in his two elections, the current Pro-VC polled much more than the 50% of the total valid votes cast. This tells you his level of respectability and popularity among Convocation members. He has always, for his 17 years in UEW, been disciplined, and championed the fight against corruption. The lecturers and senior officers know this for sure. Hence they gave him full support in each of the elections.
8. The question which the UTAG-UEW President has to answer is simply this: how come the lecturers who have always supported the current Pro-VC in his fight against corruption and illegality will now proceed on strike because a court of law in accordance with the UEW Statutes has asked him to hold the fort…?
Fellow citizens, this fight should not be politicised. Let us allow sanity and transparency to prevail.
Department of Political Science (For and on behalf of Concerned UTAG members).
By Isaac Brako