The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) is a hotbed of partisan politics at the administration, academic and student levels, a former head of the school’s political science department, Dr Richard Amoako Baah, has said.
The politics, he said, has led to vindictiveness and unfair treatment of some lecturers and professors, especially those like him who are vocal and were perceived to belong to one party or the other, depending on who is running the school at what time and which party is in power at the Presidency.
Explaining why he was denied a two-year contract to continue to teach at KNUST after his retirement, Dr Amoako Baah said he was victimised for being vocal.
“If you teach at the university, at age 60, you have to go on retirement but the normal practice is that each one is given a two-year contract, somewhat automatic. I’ve never heard of anyone who wasn’t given one if you’re qualified. I was more than qualified. In my case, they didn’t. They waited until school reopened the following semester and sent me the letter that unfortunately my application for a contract was not accepted”, the failed Chairman-aspirant of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) told Benjamin Akakpo on the Executive Breakfast Show on Class91.3FM on Wednesday, 27 November 2019.
“There’s too much politics there; there’s still too much politics there”, he insisted, adding, however: “To his credit, the present V-C apologised, he was not the one there when this happened, he apologised to me that they would make restitution”, but “they haven’t”.
According to Dr Amoako Baah, “Sometimes, you’re better off letting things go than to follow up and get upset for too long. It’s just money, of course,g I don’t have it but by the grace of the good Lord, I survive so that was what happened”.
To buttress his point further, Dr Amoako Baah recounted an incident of betrayal, which, to him epitomises the extent to which partisan politics has eaten into the running and management of KNUST.
“There was one story there that was very very bad and it showed the state of academia in Ghana today. Universities are the last bastions of academic freedoms and, indeed, freedom itself, so, if you’re a professor at the university and you cannot speak your mind, it is a disservice to the whole country”, he noted.
“There was one professor there who was also applying for promotion, and they [the university’s administration at the time] perceived him to be NPP and they withheld his promotion for a long time. Of course, they would come up with all kinds of excuses: he couldn’t find someone to review his paper, all kinds of nonsense but it wasn’t the case. All of us knew what was going on. He was my close friend; when we walked together, he held my hand; that’s how close we were. We went to school together. All of a sudden, I meet him and he said: ‘Oh, they said they are going to review my paper’. Well, he also was retiring at the same time, so, I said: ‘OK, you’re going to check on the retirement paper, so, when you go check on mine for me’. He said: ‘OK’. He comes back, ‘What’s going on?’: ‘I don’t know, they said they are this, let’s wait a little bit’. One day another professor calls me and I said Doc, ‘What’s going on, have you heard what is happening?’ He said: ‘What, your friend didn’t tell you?’ He said: ‘They did not approve your retirement and you know what, your very friend is the one who signed not to approve it’”.
“And it’s because they are all afraid to speak up. I think University of Ghana, Legon is a lot better but KNUST has too much politics going on there. We have allowed the political parties to make great inroads into the university system where they support student organisations, TESCON, this one, whatever, [TEIN], all of that must stop. We shouldn’t allow that. You come to the university to study, not to play politics, so, we start there and they [students] learn the corruption there actually, because young people spending big money”.
Also, Dr Amoako Baah recalled how “a student from a very humble background spent close to GHS200,000” on his campaign for the SRC presidency. “I may be wrong about the figure but it was quite a lot of money and that’s how bad it is”. “And the parents were not in any position to pay such money. And that tells you what is going on. It is not good; this is something we should look at. We should find a way to take the politics out of the university”.