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21.05.2007 General News

Legon Students accuse authorities of conflict of interest

By Public Agenda
Legon Students accuse authorities of conflict of interest

Students of the University of Ghana have again stirred controversy over the in-out-out-out accommodation policy by accusing some university authorities of conflict of interest.

Their beef is that key personalities within the premier university's hierarchy, including the Vice-Chancellor, Professor C.N.B. Tagoe and the Dean of Students, Dr. Banoeng Yakubu, are promoting the new policy, primarily to coerce students into patronizing hostel facilities in which the officials allegedly have shares.

But when contacted, Dr. Yakubu debunked the accusations, saying they amount to "complete nonsense," because he has neither been in office long enough to wield such influence that he could use to sway university accommodation policy in favour of hostel facilities, nor does he have funds to own shares in any hostel facility.

On the other hand, the students are suspicious because of the ongoing sale of forms at the Office of the Dean of Students, for one of the newly built private hostels, Bani Hostel, which is located opposite the Presbyterian Boys Secondary School (PRESEC), Legon.

During the just-ended semester, a student who preferred to share a room with five others at the Bani Hostel coughed up ¢3 million whereas those who were more comfortable staying alone had to pay ¢20 million, a source told the Public Agenda paper.

Public Agenda's enquiries have also confirmed that a set of forms, including regulations and guidelines costs ¢40, OOO and a few students have already purchased some copies.

Even so, Dr. Yakubu denies knowledge of the sale of the forms and inquired from the paper's reporter the name of the person selling the set of forms in his office. He admitted though that he was aware some students were peddling falsehood about him owning Bani Hostel.

He maintained that he neither has full nor part ownership of the hostel facility, and dared students, as well as, members of the public to prove otherwise.

The students are however, standing their grounds, arguing that the Dean's actions were tantamount to conflict of interest, since his office has no business promoting a private hostel in the manner that it was doing.

Tension has built up at the University of Ghana since last month's announcement of the new in-out-out-out policy to replace the existing in-out-out-in policy. The policy affords only freshmen and women accommodation in the university's halls of residence that contain about 8,000 beds as against the old policy under which first and final year students could access accommodation on campus.

According to authorities, about 5,000 of the beds will be occupied by freshmen and women who will be admitted at the start of the next academic year. However, continuing students would have to go through a lottery system to secure beds only after some special groups such as medical and postgraduate students have been catered for.

Subsequent to the announcement of the new policy, thousands of dissatisfied students embarked on a demonstration, culminating in police brutalities and arrests.

The students also threatened to boycott end of semester exami¬nations unless the new policy was withdrawn, but later kowtowed, as university authorities warned that whoever refused to sit for the examinations would be failed automatically.

Consequently, security has been tightened at the campus as uniformed security officers, including the police are visible everywhere. Plain-clothed security officers are also said to be present.

The issuance of threats by a group called Militant African Youth against Neo-colonialism to some officials of the university, including some heads of departments, mainly occasioned the strong security presence on the university campus. The group warned the said officials to speak against the "imperialist policies" that the Prof. Tagoe-led administration was pursuing, else the group would visit death and physical harm on the officials and their families.

Source: Public Agenda

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