The government is insisting that it does not expect any of the old council members of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to be part of the new one.
This, according to the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, was to ensure that the brouhaha that caused the university to be shut down was fully settled.
The old council, according to Mr Oppong Nkrumah was part of the impasse, adding “Just as the actions of students, student’s leaders and school management will be subjects of the full investigation when the University is re-opened, so will the actions and inactions of the old council be subject of that investigation.”
Speaking at a press briefing in Accra Monday morning, he said specific persons who constituted that council “cannot preside over the matters in which their own decisions and conduct will be a subject,”.
“It is in this spirit that government and some other groups have already indicated new nominees,” he said.
On October 22, this year, there was an outbreak of violence and destruction of property following a demonstration of students of KNUST campus in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region.
Following that, the Ashanti Regional Security Council (REGSEC) took a decision to shut down the university and also imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the university campus.
The students, who went on a peaceful demonstration against the ‘tyrannical’ style of the university administration, turned violent, leading to the massive destruction of property worth about Ghc1.7million.
The demonstration was also intended to express grave concern over the use of force by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kwasi Obiri Danso, to cow them into submission.
Before the demonstration, 11 students of the University Hall (Katanga) who had participated in the usual entertainment programme (otherwise called moral session) of the hall on Friday, October 19 were allegedly brutalised and arrested by the university’s internal security men and handed over to the KNUST Police Station, where they were detained.
Moral sessions are processions of students, usually on campus, amid singing and dancing, and are very common with the all-male halls of residence.
In the matter of group seats on council, Mr Nkrumah said KNUST Act required representatives from groups, indicating that it did not ask for specific individuals and that the government was not interested in deciding which specific individuals nominated.
“The principles of specific persons who will end up becoming judges in their own cause is what government disagrees with. It is precisely to resolve this disagreement that the chancellor is taking leadership in engaging with all nominating groups,” he said.
Though the interim council was given up to three months, Mr Nkrumah said the government’s subsequent assessment was that it could hand over the university and all emergency measures taken to a new council, earlier than expected, “if one is agreed upon and inaugurated as soon as possible”.
“Government has indicated its new members for the KNUST council. It is our understanding that two other groups (CHASS and NCTE) have also done so” he said.
Mr Nkrumah said it was the expectation of the government that once the office of the chancellor received the full complement of names, the office would refer them to the appointing authority, the president, for the next step.
“Next steps are council of state approval and final inauguration by the appointing authority,” he said.