A Showdown looms between Prof Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Legon, and the University Council following his decision to resume duty next week Tuesday, with or without the consent of the council.
Prof Asenso-Okyere has given the university authorities a one-week notice of his decision to resume duty as vice-chancellor, since the disciplinary process has been completed, with the punitive action taken against junior and senior members of the university who were implicated in the examination malpractice which occurred during the first semester of the 2004/2005 academic year.
A letter by the vice-chancellor, dated April 18, 2006, addressed to the chairman of the University Council and copied to members of the council and the acting vice-chancellor, which was stumbled upon by the Daily Graphic, said, “The one-week notice will give the acting vice-chancellor time to wind up his activities in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor.”
“I am counting on your utmost co-operation in this matter so that justice and fairness will prevail,” the letter added.
The Chairman of the University Council, Dr Ishmael Yamson, on his part, confirmed the vice-chancellor's letter but said it was very surprising and strange for Prof Asenso-Okyere to have considered that line of action.
He said Prof Asenso-Okyere did not have the prerogative to tell the University Council when he wanted to resume work, adding that sometimes it was very disappointing for people to create unnecessary problems for everyone.
Commenting further on his contention, Prof Asenso-Okyere told the Daily Graphic that his action was based on the assurance given to him by the University Council in a letter dated May 30, 2005, which stated, inter alia, “You will return to post when council has accepted the committees' reports and their recommendations and has approved any sanction they may recommend for implementation.”
He said he had not heard anything from the council with respect to that assurance, although he was aware that the Academic Board met about three weeks ago to consider the recommendations by the disciplinary committees, based on which action had been taken against persons implicated in the examination malpractice.
Responding, Dr Yamson said the letter referred to by the vice-chancellor stated unambiguously that he would return to post after the disciplinary process had been completed.
He said the Academic Board was yet to present the recommendations of the disciplinary committees to the council for discussion, explaining that after it had satisfied itself, the implementation process could begin and that was when the process would be completed.
Dr Yamson said everyone had to be patient to allow the due process to continue, adding, “It's better to talk rather than to threaten.”
He wondered why Prof Asenso-Okyere did not contact the council or him personally to find out how things were going before serving the letter.
Responding to that question, and why he did not wait for the council to ask him to resume duty, rather than doing so himself, the vice-chancellor said he would have obliged in that manner if the letter had said so, adding that he was only acting on what the letter indicated.
He said since June last year, he had stayed away from his post peacefully to allow the disciplinary process to continue but he felt that after action had been taken against those implicated, it was time for him to go back.
On the suggestion that his approach might result in a confrontation between him and the authorities, Prof Asenso-Okyere responded, “I hope it doesn't happen so,” adding, “I believe I have to go back and finish my work and hand over.”
Prof Asenso-Okyere has been a vice-chancellor in absentia since June 8, 2005 when he heeded a directive by the University Council to step aside to allow the disciplinary committees to carry out their work.
Story by Edmund Kofi Yeboah