VICE CHANCELLORS- Ghana (VCG), an amalgam of Vice Chancellors of the country's Universities has opened a pandora's box, following its controversial donation of a ¢269 million minibus to a group that purportedly represented the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), last Wednesday.
Last Thursday, news and pictures about the donation of the bus by the two education-oriented groups to the students' union was blown across the nation via the screens of TV3 and Metro TV and on the airwaves by a number of radio stations.
But five days after the said donation by the respected institution to NUGS, the leadership of the students union has denied taking delivery of any minibus as a donation from VCG. NUGS has consequently written a disclaimer dismissing the media reports, since it says it was not aware of any such donation.
The donation, which was funded by the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), and was given to the purported student leaders at the campus of the University of Ghana, has thus generated a controversy that has placed VCG in a tangled mess.
The bus was handed over to the immediate past president of NUGS, Mr. Abu Forgo by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba, Prof. Jophus Anamuah-Mensah. Mr. Forgo also attended the same university.
The question of why VCG chose to donate a bus meant for NUGS to a past president of the union instead of the present leadership remains a mystery to the leadership of the students' union, since according to the current leadership, they expected VCG to know what was right to be done.
The NUGS president, Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, told The Chronicle in an interview that the union was not informed about the donation and as such, could not have delegated anyone to act on its behalf at any such function.
He said it was illegal for anyone as a former leader of the union to still act in its name and noted that any such act as was exhibited by Mr. Forgo and condoned by VCG last Wednesday, amounted to impersonation.
"We cannot fathom the exact motive or rationale why VCG and the GETFund Board would carry out such an improper and clandestine ceremony that has left NUGS in a state of shock though we appreciate their good intention to help NUGS with a minibus," the NUGS disclaimer, signed by the president, contained.
The issue has been compounded by the fact that, five days after taking delivery of the bus from the donors, Mr. Forgo has not handed over the bus to NUGS and the current president also says he does not know where the vehicle was.
The Chronicle raised the issue that VCG might have handed over the bus to the former president, because its officials were not aware that Mr. Forgo was no longer the president of NUGS. But it was proven to the paper that that could not have been the cause of the blunder by the noble donors.
The paper was told that Prof. Anamuah-Mensah was the one who chaired the handing over ceremony which was held at his University's campus at Winneba in October last year, during which Mr. Forgo's regime handed over as NUGS executives to the present leadership of the union.
Mr. Ablakwa therefore expressed surprise that Mr. Forgo who did not even attend his own handing over ceremony could turn round and masquerade as a NUGS leader almost three months after he had left office and be accorded recognition by VCG.
Mr. Forgo had earlier told the paper and still insists that he started negotiations for the donation, when he was in office and so thought that it was right for him to receive the donation and in turn hand it over to the current leadership of the union.
But Mr. Ablakwa denied that it was Mr. Forgo who started the negotiation for the donation of the bus. He told the paper that the appeal for the donation was made by Mr. Forgo's predecessor, Mr. Ken Abotchie. He emphasized that even if it were to have been started by Mr. Forgo, it would still be improper for him to receive the donation on behalf of NUGS, since he was no longer a leader of NUGS.
"But even if he negotiated for the bus, are we saying that it will be right for a donor country to invite former president, Jerry Rawlings, to receive a loan or a grant on behalf of the government of Ghana just because the negotiation for such a facility for the country was initiated when Rawlings was the president of Ghana?"
When The Chronicle contacted Prof Anamuah-Mensah, he said he was in Accra to deliver a paper on the day of the ceremony and was called to the function where it happened that he had to represent VCG to deliver the bus.
He explained that he was informed that VCG had written to NUGS to receive that bus and so when he got there he thought that those who were present to receive the bus were from NUGS or were representing NUGS.
The NUGS president, however insists that they received no letter from VCG and said they would only take custody of the said bus if VCG issued a public statement on the matter or if the bus was retrieved from the wrong recipients and a proper handing over was done by VCG.
Meanwhile, the paper has learnt that the blunder on the part of VCG and the action of the former NUGS president, has infuriated many student leaders in the country, who may soon issue public statements on the matter.