The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) says it will sanction the University of Ghana Branch of the association for holding a press conference on the Public Universities Bill without approval.
According to the umbrella union of the university lecturers, the leadership of the Legon branch of UTAG has been part of all deliberations over the bill and the reviews that have been made to the bill hence finds it difficiult to understand the posture of their colleagues.
“We just had a meeting in Ho and their President was there. In fact, their leaders have been part of the negotiations throughout so we don’t know why they will go ahead to hold this press conference without the approval of the mother body.
“For them to go ahead in this manner, the necessary sanctions will have to apply. What is their motive for inviting CSOs and the media for this press conference without the national body,” President of the University of Cape Coast branch of UTAG Dr. Samuel Bert Boadi-Kusi told Starr News’ Regina Borle Bortey Wednesday.
He said sanctions could include the exclusion of Legon UTAG members from leadership of the association and also barring them from attending meetings.
UTAG and its members at the University of Ghana have in recent times clashed over the Public Universities Bill.
While the legon lecturers demand the complete withdrawal of the bill, the umbrella body appears to be pushing for an amendment to some of the proposals.
In a statement Wednesday, the group said claims by President Akufo-Addo that the rationale behind the bill is incontestable is false.
“In an interview on the 4th of September 2020 on Oman FM, the President conceded that “valid criticisms” had been brought against the PUB and said that these would be reviewed. However, the President ultimately concluded that “the basic thrust of the Bill and the rationale for it is incontestable”. With this press conference, UG-UTAG is, in fact, contesting the very basis of the Bill and calling for it to be completely withdrawn.
“In sum, our objections are that the PUB is unconstitutional, unnecessary, and will create more problems than it claims to solve,” the statement said.
It added: “If passed into law, this new legislation would confer on the President powers that the 1992 Constitution explicitly denies him or her under Articles 68(1)(b) and 195(3). Through provisions in the Bill that give the Executive majority representation on the University Council and that allow the President to dissolve the Council, the President would effectively control universities."
Continuing that, "The new law would thus erode the protections that the Constitution grants universities in order that they can effectively carry out their mandate of teaching, learning, and research; academics would become beholden to the political party in power, either as a result of direct interference or through self-censorship, and would cease to be the source to which the media and public can turn for impartial analysis of government policies."
"Although in the interview on Oman FM the President did concede that the issue of University Councils required a second look, he did not indicate whether these clauses would be totally removed or merely tweaked. In any case, there are many more problems with the Bill that make it untenable.”
The lecturers also described the bill as unnecessary.