Once again, Ghanaians are being forced by circumstances to discuss Prof. Ernest Aryeetey's incompetence as an administrator of the University of Ghana. The chaos that greeted the closure of all access roads except the Okponglo entrance to the University of Ghana yesterday opened my eyes to a certain sad reality; it is either the government is not in charge of affairs of this country, or the vice chancellor is a law unto himself.
My understanding of how the university system works is that, government of Ghana as the sole shareholder of the University of Ghana appoints the board of directors (council) which also appoints the managing director (vice chancellor) who sees to the daily administration of the campus and issues concerning its upkeep. Unfortunately, from the actions and inactions of the vice chancellor, we are being told indirectly that the venerable Professor Aryeetey appointed himself and is therefore not answerable to any one, not even the council nor by extension the government.
When the professor made the mistake of tolling the road, many citizens protested: two students even filed an injunction in court to curtail what they saw as his excesses and arrogance. Before the court could adjudicate on this matter, National Security, seeing the chaos being created on the highway by this senseless act of placing a toll gate close to the main road and the likelihood of this action leading to a breakdown in law and order, demolished the toll gate. The university huffed and puffed about taking legal action against the national security coordinator since it said it contracted a loan to rehabilitate the roads and therefore needed to raise funds to repay the loan.
Despite government saying it was taking over the repayment of the loan which to all intents and purposes meant the issue of tolling of the campus road was dead and was therefore expecting the professor to go easy and abandon his ambitious, reckless and audacious move, government's pussy-footing and silence over whether to toll or not to toll the road has empowered him to go the extra mile. Now he is running the affairs of the university same way an emperor in centuries gone by would have run his kingdom. If government will not make a definite statement on this clear resort to lawlessness on the part of the vice chancellor, what is the university council saying?
The council is composed of some very eminent Ghanaians whose continuous silence is so loud and deafening and therefore creating an impression that the council is enjoying the muscle flexing and sparring exercise Professor Aryeetey has embarked upon to defy government. Those of us who use that road or have children attending the schools are not amused by the intransigent posture that this vice chancellor has adopted; he has raised himself on a pedestal which unfortunately suggests that he is above every law in this country, he can defy government and the university council and strut around the campus as a prized peacock because he has dared to thrust his hands into the lion's mouth and has survived to tell the story.
This is one defiant act that the vice chancellor has taken too far; Professor Aryeetey does not own the Legon campus and neither did he appoint himself into the exalted position of head of the school. But the way government and the council have handled this toll gate issue is painting a picture of both government and the council being toothless bulldogs facing a lion in mortal combat. Who is afraid of Professor Aryeetey? Does he have any hold over government and the university council?
If not then he must be called to order; the earlier the better.