Dr Clement Abasenab Apaak, Deputy Ranking Member on Education Committee of Parliament, has described President Nana Akufo-Addo’s response to critics against the Universities Bill as intolerant and hypocritical leadership.
He told Journalists in parliament he believed the President response to critics of the bill is an insult to academia. President Akufo Addo in response to critics claimed that the arguments over the University Bill are borne out of mischief.
According to President Akufo Addo, the new Universities Bill which is yet to be laid in Parliament after the completion of consultations, would not, in any way, affect academic freedom in public universities as is being claimed by critics. Speaking at the first session of the University of Professional Studies (UPSA) 11th Congregation in Accra, President Akufo-Addo claimed the Bill would bring all public universities under one law and make the administration of public universities smooth and effective operation.
“The flimsy allegations being perpetrated that the bill will undermine academic freedom are deliberate mischief-making and disingenuous,” Nana Akufo-Addo reportedly stated. But Dr Apaak condemned the President comments, describing it as the reckless and insulting comments coming from a president. He contended that prominent Ghanaian citizens who have served in academia have pointed out that the Bill, in its current form, would undermine the independence and academic freedom could not be wrong.
“People who expressed their views and opinions on the Bill are all persons in academia, President Akufo Addo has never been a lector, a Vice Chancellor or even a pro- vice chancellor before. These people, Prof Ayittey, Prof Akpilaka Sawyer, Dr Gyampo and many others cannot be wrong in their own opinion,” Dr Apaak said. He noted that the number of members on the governing council of the universities as proposed by the bill, have been reduced to nine, with five being government appointees, stressing,
“You cannot have government appointees dominating and yet you turn to say that it is not going to undermine the freedom and independence of the academic institution.” The Builsa South lawmaker further said, what is making the Bill more threat to academic freedom is where aspect of the Bill seeks to give the Minister of Education the opportunity to provide policy direction, which in his view very strange in the academic sector in the country ever.
Dr Apaak said, if the President would not take inputs from stakeholders , then there is no need for consultation on the bill and that he should simply allow parliament to pass it since the President has the majority. While describing the comments by Mr Akufo-Addo as “distasteful” the Ranking member on education said the posture of the president exposed his intolerant to divergent opinions.
Such utterance the Minority MP said are undemocratic and smack of dictatorship and tyranny, adding the president is fond of “using vindictive, insulting language against persons who held alternative opinions.