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Feature: Education Ministry Must Tread Carefully in Prah Case   
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I have just finished reading the Ghanaian Chronicle’s news article captioned “K-Poly Rector Booted Out” (Ghanaweb.com 12/5/09), about the apparently “activist” ousting of Dr. B. E. K. Prah, until very recently rector of the Kumasi Polytechnic Institute (KPI/K-Poly).

Dr. Prah has been accused of negotiating contractual bids that egregiously smacked of nepotism, including one allegedly involving the awarding of a $19,000.00 (Nineteen-Thousand –Dollar) computer assembly contract to the U.S.-resident nephew of the embattled rector by finessing established procurement protocol.

Then also the Chronicle alleges that the K-Poly rector awarded his institution’s internet network system to a Nigerian ICT firm, called Socket Works Limited, which miserably failed to deliver on its contractual obligations.

Anyway, before I proceed any further, I must emphasize the fact that this article is merely an attempt to get behind the usually unsavory, and often mistaken, veneer of sensationalism that color many a mainstream media reportage around the globe. I should also hasten to add that I have absolutely no vested interest in the fortunes of Dr. Prah, with whom I personally have no acquaintance and whose name I had never heard prior to reading the aforementioned news report, one way or another. And still further, I should also point out that for me, a patriotic Ghanaian, the overriding motive in writing this piece is primarily to ensure that justice and fair-play are allowed unfettered rein.

On the face of it, the media report on the Prah affair appears to be a clear case of gross mismanagement or maladministration. The problem, however, arises when the K-Poly faculty union or, rather, the latter’s branch of the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG), is seen to be imperiously projecting itself in a manner more reflective of a vengeance-seeking organization, as opposed to the more apposite agenda of justice-seeking. One eerily gets this sense of the flagrantly unfortunate, particularly when the POTAG membership, through its executive officers, of course, issues the raw and crude threat of a showdown to the damnable effect that any attempt by the Polytechnic Council to extend the tenure of Dr. Prah by another four-year term would be fiercely met with a “sit-down strike.”

What further complicates matters is that POTAG seems to be amenable to reversing its decision which has, to-date, resulted in the summary removal of the embattled K-Poly rector who has been ordered to immediately proceed on a 204-day leave, pending a probe by a five-member panel chaired by Prof. Tuah of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

The Tuah Commission may do well to thoroughly probe both the professional and/or collegial culture and climate that existed prior to Dr. Prah’s assumption of rectorship at K-Poly; and also, particularly, the culture and climate induced by the Prah administration. I highlight the foregoing because knowing the generally pathologically conservative culture of our nation as one born and raised in Ghana, it may well be that Dr. Prah is an immitigably progressive, or even an irrepressible revolutionary, administrator who just happened to have ruffled the “peacocky” feathers of some very well-connected and influential faculty and staff on the K-Poly campus.

And if, indeed, it so happens that Dr. Prah had, in fact, breached established contractual protocol by initiating and/or negotiating no-bid contracts, then inasmuch as a punitive/disciplinary measure may be quite in order, the extent to which such laid-down procurement protocol may be riddled with woefully unacceptable bureaucratic red-tape, thus making it next to the impossible to smoothly facilitate the rapid development of our higher educational institutions, may also have to be fore-grounded, if only the latter is to healthily ensure that the obnoxiously regressive ones among our citizenry are not insidiously and deviously hampering our national development agenda and criminally shortchanging our dear and beloved nation at large.

The curious timing of the Prah saga may well be tinged with political and/or ideological vendetta; consequently, it may not absolutely be out of order, at all, for the Tuah Commission to envisage and vigorously and dispassionately pursue this seamy aspect of Ghanaian culture as one that is ineluctably integral to its terms of reference.
Source: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe E-mail: [email protected] The Statesman

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