Some of the demonstrators
THE OPPOSITION National Democratic Congress (NDC) is inciting a group of party activists calling itself ‘United Krobo Foundation’ in the Krobo area to use all possible means to resist what it calls the attempt of government to relocate the Donkorkrom Campus of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development to Bunso near Kyebi in the Eastern Region.
On Thursday, the party activists hit the principal streets of Somanya with a strong protest, claiming the NPP government is trying to relocate the main campus of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development from Somanya to Bunso in the Akyem Abuakwa area.
According to the group, led by one Joshua Ogborjor Evor, they ‘smell’ ethnocentrism and fascism on the part of the NPP government.
Dressed in red, the members carried numerous placards bearing inscriptions like “President rescind your decision”, “Go back to your drawing board,” “Krobo deserves the main campus”, “Donkorkrom must also have its share”, among other inscriptions.
Having marched from Somanya, the group stormed the Odumase Krobo Municipal Assembly to present a petition to the authorities at the assembly.
In his address during the 23rd National Best Teacher and 3rd Best School Awards ceremony held in Koforidua last year, the Minister for Planning, Prof. Gyan Baffour, stated that government was committed to expanding access to Tertiary Education, indicating that the University of Environment and Sustainable Development would have its campus in Bonsu and Somanya instead of Donkorkrom.
There were heated arguments in Parliament last month over this issue with the Minority members, led by their leader, Haruna Iddrisu, completely dissenting to a loan agreement of $90 million to finance the establishment of the campus at Bunso.
Members of the Minority NDC on the finance committee, which scrutinized the agreement, also completely refused to approve the loan at the committee level, allowing only the Majority to approve the report of the committee with nine votes as against seven votes by the Minority.
The argument of the Minority was that the law that established the university to be sited in the Eastern Region, Act 898, did not include Bunso and so for the NPP government to circumvent provisions of the law to include Bunso is a clear breach of the law and a slap in the face of the Constitution.
The NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who was the Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Tertiary Education in the Mahama administration, said it would be a day of shame for Parliament to approve the loan because it would undermine the principles of Act 898.
He said that by dictates of the Act, no new campus ought to be created without the amendment of the Act, adding that the choice of Bunso is a deliberate political decision to site the campus in the home district of the president.
He indicated that per the Act, a Governing Council must be put in place to determine the location of a new satellite campus, apart from Somanya and Donkorkrom.
He stated that the NPP failed to do all these and went ahead to secure the loan for the construction of a campus at Bunso and urged Parliament to do the right thing by amending the law before approving the loan.
But the Minister of Defence, who is the MP for Bimbilla, Dominic Nitiwul, in a reaction, chastised the Minority members for behaving like ostriches.
He said the previous NDC administration decided to go for the previous small loan of $50 million for the Somanya campus when there was this $90 million facility from the South Korean EXIM Bank to start the campus.
He said negotiations with the Korean EXIM Bank were started by the NDC administration in 2015 and that when the loan was secured, the EXIM Bank did its own feasibility studies and found out that Bunso had University College of Agriculture and Environmental Studies and the Cocoa College and recommended the campus be sited there, for it would be used as a centre of excellence in agro-entrepreneurship and engineering.
Former president John Mahama in 2016 cut the sod for the construction of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development at Somanya.
The Eastern University when constructed will have two campuses, with the main campus at Somanya and the other at Donkorkrom in the Afram Plains.
FROM Daniel Bampoe, Somanya