The Ghana Association of University Administrators of the University of Education, Winneba has cruised through an important election of Executive Officers and successfully managed a challenging tide that nearly derailed the process of renewing their mandates through democratic elections in June 2022. The Executives may have breathed an air of relief and joy as the WhatsApp platform of the Association was flooded with congratulatory messages, parting the back of the Executive Officers for safe conduct of the polls.
We have all agreed and are committed to elect our leaders through democratic process and the ballot box. Although the GAUA Executive Officers were rubber stamped, we welcome the newly elected Executives and congratulate them. A number of issues preceded the nominations of the candidates and election, and given the challenges that bedeviled the process, there is a need for organizational renewal of its mandate and functions.
Organizational renewal is a deliberate strategy for Organizational performance and long-term survival. The purpose of Organizational renewal can occur as an ongoing continuous process or as episodic change. Organizations need continuous renewal because it adds a level of stability in the midst of internal and external triggers of change (Sonia Tenaja et al, 2012).
In the Context of GAUA, the process of Organizational renewal should be continuous for the purpose of appraising external and internal dynamics. This will bring about cohesion and organizational stability especially after competitive or contentious issues such as elections.
Developments in GAUA, UEW that call for the need for Organizational Renewal are:
a. End of First Tenure of the GAUA, UEW Executives
The GAUA, UEW Executives took office from the Bruno Chiranii Baduso led administration from 20th January, 2020 and was expected per the GAUA National and Local Constitution to serve for two years ending 20th January, 2022. Per the Constitution of GAUA, May 2016 (Revised) Clause 8: (ii) “the tenure of all elected Officers shall be for two (2) years”. This regulation is consistent with the Constitution of GAUA National, Article 25: “Tenure of Office National Officers (Executive Committee) that says:
“The Elected /Appointed Officers shall, except otherwise stipulated in this Constitution, hold office for a term of two (2) years and shall be rotational among all the Branches until otherwise changed by Congress or by Constitutional amendment”.
As University Administrators, we have consistently respected our constitutional provisions and would want to be exemplary in respect of our constitutions. Anything on the contrary such as the extension of tenure needs serious reflection and thinking.
b. Petition to Draw Attention of the End of GAUA, UEW first Tenure of Office
A petition dated 21st March, 2022 was submitted to the Registrar of the University of Education, Winneba that the GAUA, UEW tenure of Office has expired on 21st January, 2022. The petitioner opined that the GAUA Executives have cleverly lured the members and unconstitutionally sought extension of their mandate to extend the date for elections of new GAUA Executives at GAUA meeting on 26th November, 2021. The petition alleged that this altering of the calendar was an infringement of the GAUA UEW Constitution and would unconstitutionally allow the UEW GAUA to remain in Office until July 2022.
The justifications of the petitioner calling for action against this GAUA, UEW Executives were that the Constitutional provisions should be respected and GAUA’s Constitution be preserved, and second, there should be effective running of the Association, which is hosting of GAUA National Seat. Precedence by the Registrar and GAUA members in resisting past infractions and low attendance at GAUA member where the proposal to extend the tenure of Office of GAUA was mooted and passed was not healthy for the Association and requires soul searching of its members.
c. Response of GAUA, UEW Executive Officers
In a sharp response to the petition dated 30th March 2022, the Executive Officers did admit that the GAUA, UEW Executives took over from the previous Executives on 21st January, 2022 to hold office for two (2) years ending 20th January, 2022 in accordance with the constitutional provision of the Association. It further states:
“It is however, instructive to note that a constitution like a living organism grows and is amenable to change in particular situations when there is the need that, local constitutions are subject and subservient to that of the national constitution. Thus, when National Executive Committee (NEC) made up of all Local Branch Executives at a NEC meeting or Conference takes decisions affecting the entire Association, it is expected that such decisions bind all Local Branches”.
Conflict of purpose relating to Local and National constitutions and National Executive Committee’s Resolution does not inure for the health of GAUA and should be examined critically by means of organizational carving out its modus of operations.
Their response explained further that on 25th October, 2019 the NEC at a meeting held at the University of Development Studies, Tamale, approved this rationalization of dates of elections of Officers of the Association. This according to them, a restructuring was aimed at streamlining the election dates for Officers at all branches in order to bring them in line with the universities’ calendar. The NEC added that it was also aimed at dealing with possible challenges that the different dates could create at the local level, hence the need to forestall such challenges and that, it was resolved among others, that all Local and National positions shall take effect from 1st August and terminate on 31st July. This has not been the case of all Local GAUAs in our universities. The fact that this has not been the case in terms of uniformed dates for election requires some reflection and renewed thinking.
Their response also indicated that at the GAUA, UEW General meeting held on 26th November, 2021, at Winneba, this issue of transition of tenure of Office Branch Executives to align with National Executives was discussed and members agreed to extend the term of Office of the current UEW GAUA Executives to July 2022.
d. Further Submission of Petitioner on GAUA, UEW Extension of Office
Further submission of the Petitioner was the development as to why the Executives response was silent on the hosting of GAUA National by the UEW GAUA Branch with effect from 1st August, 2022? It pointed out that the date by the NEC and the resolution being implemented does not refer to election of Executives of GAUA and the processes of handing over Office on 1st August. It admitted that constitutions are living organisms and therefore grow and are amenable to change in particular situations when there is the need to amend for effective operation but contended that since both the GAUA Local and National Constitutions remained unamended, a critical thinker cannot be faulted for drawing attention to the constitutional infringement.
The petitioner further argued that NEC Resolution was not an imposition at all. It states,
“In line with the new development, the National Officers were mandated to persuade members of KNUST Local for extension of their tenure of Office to July 31, 2020”
The functionality of GAUA Local Constitution and the need to respect all constitutional provisions should be upheld by all members.
e. Nominations of Candidates, Elections and Declaration of Results
In order to avoid any constitutional crisis, the GAUA UEW Executives called for GAUA General meeting and announced the opening of nominations and elections on June 23, 2022. The advertisement was carried by the UEW Publications and Communication Division at the University website. At the close of nomination, the same old faces of GAUA Executives with exception of Mr. Percy Kwamina M. Taylor was nominated and stood unopposed. We went into this election and the results as declared on the eve of June 23, 2022 was:
f. DECLARATION OF RESULTS OF GAUA ELECTION AT WINNEBA AND AJUMAKO CAMPUSES
|Position||Candidate||Votes Cast (Winneba)||Votes Cast (Ajumako)||Valid Votes Cast Winneba & Ajumako||%||Remarks|
|President||Dr. (Mrs.) Beth Offei-Awuku||89||13||3||7||4||-||96||17||82.76||Elected|
|Vice President||Prince Percy Kwamena Mbir Taylor||90||13||2||7||4||-||97||17||83.62||Elected|
|Assistant Secretary||Patricia Kaitoo||93||9||3||9||2||-||102||11||87.93||Elected|
Source: UEW Division of Publications and Communication, UEW, Winneba.
Analysis of Results and Implications
With the total eligible voter of 181 members only 116 members voted (64.09%). One striking thing was the number of “No Votes and Spoiled Ballots” that was recorded and reported by the Returning Officer.
|Candidate||No Vote||Spoilt Ballot||Total|
Source: Declaration of Results, Division of Publications and Communication
The Tables above are self-evidence. Quite apart from the low voter turnout of less than 70 per cent, a good number voted “No” thus opposing their candidature. The Treasurer led with 38 “No Votes” and the Assistant Secretary recorded least “No votes” of 20.
Conduct of Elections and Respect of Electoral Rules
The unsatisfactory conduct of the election may have brought the credibility and compliance to electoral rules into question. Was it a competitive election or a rubber-stamped election? Were there general rules guiding the conduct of election? Per the electoral laws in Ghana, is it permissible for candidates and electoral officers to openly campaign and call for votes as the election was going on? Was it right for the candidates to mount the GAUA social media platforms to make announcements and called on members of the Association to come out and vote? For instance, the Assistant Secretary as early as 8.58 a.m. put up an announcement, “PLEASE VOTING HAS STARTED, PLEASE COME OUT IN YOUR NUMBERS AND VOTE FOR YOUR EXECUTIVES. WE COUNT ON YOUR VOTES”. The GAUA President herself post at 11.56 a.m. “VOTING IS ONGOING PLEASE, DON’T MISS OUT GREAT ACHIVER, UNITED TO ADVANCE” Sadly, an Election Official joined and made two separate posts: “VOTER TURNOUT SO FAR 42 OUT OF 168 OOO” “VOTING IS CLOSING AT 4.00 P.M.”. Were these announcements and voter persuasions whilst election was ongoing permissible in any well supervised elections? This is the underlying question that all GAUA members should reflect on.
Hosting of GAUA National Seat in University of Education, Winneba
The National Biennial Congress of the Ghana Association of University Administrators (GAUA) is ongoing at the University of Education, Winneba in the Central Region of Ghana on the theme: Corporate Governance and the Socio-Political Environment of Public Universities in Ghana: The Role of the University Administrators. We welcome the GAUA National Seat to University of Education, Winneba and hope that the team of elected National Executives will leave up to expectation and deliver. UEW had ever hosted GAUA National Seat before in the past. The successes chalked were documented in the annals of the Association.
Way Forward: Strategy to give GAUA a Competitive Edge
To spearhead a National Team for any competitive game, the expectations are high. There are labour issues, negotiations, agreements, dialogues and collaborations that should be followed through. It is hoped the Team of Executives will not arbitrarily generate ideals and execute the National Agenda of the Association. It is also very important for the UEW GAUA to engage in the process of organizational renewal in order to avoid bad decisions. The general welfare matters of its members are paramount issues to tackle. May the Team of Executive always remember that GAUA is not a political party for it to veer into politics around the universities across the length and breadth of this country. GAUA cannot also be an apron of any Office holder, be it in the University of Education, Winneba, or any other University.
In the future, critical thinkers will watch GAUA with analytical lenses. One strategic option for this team is what Bishop Dag-Heward Mills suggested in his Book, Leaders and Loyalty:
“One of the cardinal qualifications for the head of every organization is loyalty. Loyalty emanates from the head and loyalty is key to expansion”.
We emphasized and submit that loyalty of GAUA National President-elect and her team of Executives to the University of Education, Winneba, the Chairman of the Governing Council of the UEW, the Vice-Chancellor, Registrar or the Ag. Registrar and the Ghana Association of University of Administrators (GAUA) are key to the progress and success of the Association.
Based on the principle of organizational renewal which is needed in GAUA, one will have to wait to see the varying roles of the Executive Members in this emerging National Team of UEW GAUA, Great Achievers. We welcome, GAUA National Seat to the University of Education, Winneba. Is it not a dream fulfilled? Let us always remember that it is also a call to render Service.
Mr. Epiphany K. Agbeshie & Mr. Ben Duadze
University of Education, Winneba