A couple of weeks ago, a very disturbing turn of events occurred at one of our institutions of higher learning. Staff of Wa Polytechnic allegedly prevented the Rector, Professor Emmanuel Owusu-Marfo, from entering his office despite a court decision.
Notwithstanding the despicable nature of the action by the staff, we did not talk about it, much more to condemn it. The media, human rights activists, think-tanks, University/Polytechnic Teachers’ Associations and many others, we all have swept the matter under the carpet as if such impunities are the norm.
According to a Daily Graphic front page story of September 1, 2018, aggrieved staff of the Wa Polytechnic last week Friday, forcibly prevented the Rector from assuming office in spite of a court ruling that quashed his suspension from office by the Governing Council of the Polytechnic. In April this year, the Council suspended Professor Owusu-Marfo following allegations of corruption and financial malfeasance levelled against him by some staff of the institution. The decision of the Council led the Rector to file a suit to challenge the suspension which was without recourse to lay down procedures.
The staff who apparently felt disappointed with the Wa High Court’s decision to quash the suspension locked up the administration block of the institution. They then detailed some unknown well-built men at the entrance to deny the Rector and some other senior officers access to their offices after the Court’s verdict.
In many other jurisdictions, this kind of impunity at the highest level would not be tolerated simply because there are other avenues to challenge a high court decision. Indeed, the urge for unruly behaviour may not even occur.
If we cannot respect the rule of law and more so, decisions of the courts but resort to anarchy, then it is as if we have descended into an abyss where anybody can just take the law into their own hands disrespecting laid down procedures. That makes one cry for beloved Ghana.
This brings to mind a recent conversation with one of the country’s retired prominent Medical Professors, an opinion former and a great University Administrator of his time. Very sharp with his recollections of Ghana in the sixties and seventies, he told us he gets troubled for our country and asked that we prayed for the nation.
Even in his nineties, he spends much time following happenings locally and elsewhere. He told us he got worried each time he listened to, or read the news. He could not believe how impunities and lawlessness have overtaken this country, to the extent of impeding development.
And of course, anyone who saw a clean, law-abiding Ghana on the road to prosperity in the sixties and seventies would be heartbroken to see how much of a jungle we have turned our dear nation into. Yes, we have had labour groups embarking on strikes and demonstrating to press home their demands. Such demonstrations are seen as legitimate if done respecting others’ rights.
However, the extent of impunities and lawlessness defying laid down procedures, which some workers arrogate to themselves defy understanding and we should not allow them. Regrettably, these are the same people who, when sacked for misconduct, would go begging big men and women in their communities to go and plead for them. They would use excuses of being breadwinners for their families.
I remember in the early days of our departed President, Late Professor John Atta Mills, he appointed a CEO for a state institution in Tema. Shortly after, as this CEO took to reforms in the company, he faced fierce resistance to the effect that some of the workers staged demonstrations against him. In front of television cameras, they demanded for, “whoever brought the CEO to come and take him away because we would not work with him”. I thought that was heightened disrespect.
So such blatant disrespect for authority and other’s rights has blossomed all around us, too close for comfort. The unruly behaviours where people are getting away unpunished must cease. We need the security forces to stamp their authority to protect lives and properties and punish acts of disruptive defiace.
Recently, references are being made of Rwanda, a war-torn country two decades ago and which has now risen so fast from grass to grace and have picked up the pieces together. Luanda is now the showcase of how a serious country, no matter how low it sinks can rise up again.
If Rwanda has done it in a generation’s lifetime, can Ghana do away with impunities and lawlessness and get in line for active development once again? Attitudes and behaviours are everything and so long as we believe in the power of “sankofa” (going back to the basics); Ghana can also rise above impunities for a better tomorrow.