Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo’s decision to rename public universities after national heroes has met with mixed reactions from a cross-section of Ghanaians.
Last year, the Ghanaian president renamed the University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa, after George Grant, the first president of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) and a member of the Convention People’s Party.
The president recently indicated he would propose a parliamentary bill seeking to give him the power to rename four more public universities after some great Ghanaians.
The biggest opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is protesting against the president’s decision, demanding a withdrawal of the bill, even before it arrives in parliament.
According to some members of the NDC, President Akufo-Addo’s intentions are tainted politically.
They assert that the decision is not only an exercise in futility but also one to reduce the semi-autonomous powers of the aforementioned universities.
The NDC explained that the semi-autonomous status currently being enjoyed by public universities was crucial to prevent unnecessary interference by governments.
The party further argues that the president wants to control the management of public universities, adding that it was a subtle attempt by the president to erode the autonomous powers or freedom of the schools.
The bill also seeks to empower the president to dissolve and reconstitute the governing council of all public universities in emergency cases.
When passed, the law will give the president powers to appoint an interim council to operate universities at a stated period.
According to the draft, a university council shall consist of nine members including its chairperson, nominated by the president.
The academic community has waded into the decision, saying they will also resist any action by the Ghanaian president to undermine their authority.
Ransford Gyampo, a political science professor, using his Facebook page, registered his displeasure with the decision.
“We would resist attempts to touch our academic freedom with our blood,” he wrote.
In an interview with Xinhua, a businessman, Kofi Bediako, observed that though the president’s action could be well-intentioned, it would trigger a counter renaming adventure by succeeding presidents.
While Adams Mumuni, a public servant, supported the move, believing president’s decision would inspire a sense of patriotism in the youth of the nation.
He observed that many young Ghanaians would strive to serve Ghana well for future recognition. Enditem