22.03.2005 General News

Groups react to cancellation of special congregation

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Nyankpala (N/R), March 22, GNA - Various concerned groups within and outside the University for Development Studies (UDS) have expressed concern about the action of Mr Daniel Gyimah, Chairman of the University Council, over the cancellation of the special congregation to honour the former President and other personalities.

The Students' Representative Council (SRC) of the UDS has at a news conference in Tamale, given a three-day ultimatum to Mr Gyimah to provide the names and signatures of the 472 students whom he alleged had petitioned to him to cancel the special congregation for security reasons.

Mr Naporo Abraham, the SRC President said the student body had heard the pronouncements linking the students to the postponement of the event with shock and dismay.

The SRC had also threatened to take legal action against the chairman if he failed to provide any evidence linking the student body to the postponement of the awards ceremony, saying: "We are not part of the reasons why this programme was cancelled".

Meanwhile the SRC has demanded the resignation of Mr Gyimah if he should fail to prove the allegation he made against the 472 students. On its part, the UDS branch of the University Teachers' Association of Ghana (UTAG) said Mr Gyimah's action had caused an embarrassment to the University and made the UTAG to lose confidence in him as Council Chairman.

A statement issued in Tamale on Tuesday and jointly signed by Mr G.S.K. Dzoagbe, UTAG-UDS President and Mr Thomas Azongo, UTAG-UDS Secretary said: "UTAG-UDS supports the decision of the Academic Board to request the Council Chairman to formally present to it reasons for the cancellation of the Special Congregation..."

The statement noted that the initial explanation given by Mr Gyimah for the cancellation was at variance with the current reasons he had given to the media.

"Even if some lecturers expressed their misgivings to the chairman about the event, we members of UTAG-UDS consider this as personal conversations with him and does not represent views of any recognized body in the University, hence the Association dissociated itself from such discussions.

"The Association therefore demands a quick response from the Council Chairman to clear the air," the statement said.

Dr Abubakar Al-Hassan, former National Chairman of the Convention People's Party (CPP) at a press conference in Tamale on Tuesday described the cancellation of the special congregation to honour the former President as a "crude attempts by a few to mar an occasion in which a young university wants to show appreciation to someone who has contributed so much towards its founding".

Dr Al-Hassan organised the press conference in his capacity as former chairman of the Physical Facilities Sub-committee of the Professor George Benneh Committee on the establishment of the University of the North (now University for Development Studies).

He gave numerous instances where former President Rawlings had shown personal commitment to the provision of physical infrastructure, as well as offering a 24-hour consultation at the Castle to speed up the establishment of the UDS.

He said the reasons Mr Gyimah had given to justify the cancellation "were very flimsy and untenable" adding, "the Council Chairman himself admitted the decision to honour former President Rawlings was a collective University Council decision".

"If that is the case, why should petitions purportedly received from some anonymous groups of lecturers and students be used as a basis for the cancellation," he said adding, "Rawlings deserves the award..."

Dr Al-Hassan called on the three Northern Regional Houses of Chiefs to add their voices on the issue for the authorities of the UDS to ensure that the former President was honoured.

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