Protests at Bolga Poly over TUAAG seat

General News of Friday, 25 May 2018



Felicia Lariba UTAAGFelicia Lariba Saabon presenting a statement at the TUAAG conference

A strong wave of protests has erupted in the Upper East region against an alleged decision to divert the headquarters of the Technical University Administrators Association of Ghana (TUAAG) from the Bolgatanga Polytechnic to the Accra Technical University.

Pouring out their grief Wednesday at a news conference, newly elected national executives of the association and members of the Bolgatanga Chapter of the union, blamed the outgoing national executives based in Tamale, the Northern regional capital, for what some have called a blatant breach of order and others a total mess.

The association, known in the past as the Polytechnic Administrators Association of Ghana (PAAG), does not have a fixed headquarters or seat where its affairs are managed. The seat rotates. Every 3 years, elections are conducted among members of the association at a polytechnic.

The winners of that election become the national executives of the entire association and their campus the seat or headquarters of the whole union. Their mandate lasts 36 months. At the end of their tenure, the next polytechnic in the queue takes its turn to elect new executives in an exercise supervised by the outgoing national executives. The new national executives take up responsibility as host of the seat and will also hand over to another polytechnic after 3 years. It has always revolved in that order since the inception of the PNDC Law 321 that established the country’s 10 polytechnics in 1992.

But, in what the baffled-looking conveners of the press conference say is alien to the constitution of the association, an electoral exercise, supervised by the outgoing national executives and unanimously declared “free and fair” by accredited observers, saw new national executives elected at the Bolgatanga Polytechnic in March, this year, but the outgoing national executives in Tamale, whose term ended in April, this year, reportedly declined to hand over office.

Subsequent demands for information about handover arrangements, according to the new national executives, were met with stiff apathy from the outgoing national executives. And in a more shocking twist of events, the outgoing national executives, backed by some local chairpersons of the association, voted last week for the headquarters to be taken away from the Bolgatanga Polytechnic, saying it lacked the logistics required to “take up the mantle” and that it had not been converted to a technical university.

The aggrieved TUAAG members at the Bolgatanga Polytechnic also told newsmen Wednesday there was a conspiracy for fresh elections of national executives to be held at the Accra Technical University to do away with the yet-to-be-sworn-in national executives in Bolgatanga.

“We admit that the Association’s Council has the power to make decisions for the Association, but such decisions must be based on law. And we don’t think a decision to overthrow and deny constitutionally elected persons from taking office is lawful,” the association’s Local Chairperson for the Bolgatanga Chapter, Felicia Lariba Saabon, read from a statement at the conference.

Hand over or meet us in Court— Incoming Executives to Outgoing Executives

The conveners of the press confab also served a strong notice they would head to court if the outgoing national executives failed to hand over office by Wednesday 30th May, 2018.

“Common sense dictates that the schemers who want to subvert the constitution of the Association should have known that members of the Association, Bolgatanga Chapter, have been paying dues all these years, that an election process was duly followed to arrive at the election of the executives in Bolgatanga Polytechnic [as] forms were sold, candidates were vetted and only members of the association were eligible to vote, and that all these processes were supervised by the outgoing national executives.

“From the foregoing and our resolve to ensure that no individual or group of individuals is allowed to subvert the constitution of the Association, we are requesting the outgoing national executives to, as matter of urgency, hand over office to the newly elected [executives] of Bolgatanga Polytechnic by 30th May, 2018, or meet us in court,” the statement said.

Ongoing Transition should not make some Polytechnics inferior to others— President-Elect

Adding his voice to the statement at the conference, the newly elected National President of the association, Bernard Ayamga, picked holes in the reasons the outgoing national executives reportedly gave as a basis for the “injustice” handed the Bolgatanga Polytechnic.

“There are conditions under which an executive can be removed from office. There are offences. They cannot put a finger on any of those offences that our executives have committed. Besides, we have not even taken office— so which office are they removing us from? It is just sheer greed on their part. They even stated it that we are too far from Accra, we don’t have logistics, our IGF is very low and a host of other things apart from the fact that we have not yet been converted into a technical university.

“Even those who have been sanctioned as technical universities still have certain things to sort out. All the polytechnics are undergoing a transition. No polytechnic is a full-fledged technical university. So, we are all getting there. The transition should not make other polytechnics inferior to others,” remarked Mr. Ayamga who obtained an overwhelming endorsement from delegates at the March polls.

He added: “For instance, if today Bolga Polytechnic is converted into a technical university, what would change? We are the same people who would run. We are all master’s holders. We would still be master’s holders. We cannot suddenly be PhD holders because the polytechnic has been converted into a technical university. So, where is the point?”

Bolga Poly’s Concerns are News to us— Outgoing National Executives

The National Secretary-elect, Caroline Kurugu, equally rubbished the alleged move to take away the association’s headquarters from the Upper East region, saying the same Bolgatanga Polytechnic, having hosted the Ghana Polytechnic Sports Association Games (GHAPSA) and a national conference of polytechnic rectors before, was also qualified enough to host the TUAAG National Seat.

When contacted on the telephone for their response to these allegations, the outgoing National President, Kamal-Deen Alhassan, told Starr News the concerns of the Bolgatanga Polytechnic were unknown to the outgoing national executives until they heard about them in the media after Wednesday’snews conference.

“We have only heard about it in the media. I don’t want go to into any media banter with them. I don’t want to have tempers flare up. They say they are going to court. I believe it’s not going to be about tempers but about issues there. We can all present our facts there,” said Mr. Alhassan who declined to comment further when asked why the outgoing national executives refused to hand over office.

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