Some residents of the Yilo Krobo and the Manya Krobo traditional areas on Thursday staged a demonstration against the alleged relocation of the main campus of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development (UESD) from Somanya to Bunso in the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area.
Led by the United Krobo Foundation (UKF), a pressure group in the two traditional areas, the demonstrators went through Odumase-Krobo in the Lower Manya Krobo municipality, and ended at the Akutunya Lorry Station in Somanya in the Yilo Krobo municipality.
The demonstrators, who were joined by some members of the public, carried placards, some of which read: “We need our main campus back, Akufo-Addo”, “We shall advise ourselves if government does not heed our petition”, “Nana, go back to the drawing board”, “We need our campus back”, “Donkorkrom must also get its share”, “Is Kroboland not part of Ghana?” and “Don’t test Dangmes”.
The group later presented a petition to the Yilo Krobo Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr Ebenezer Tetteh Kupualor, for onward submission to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has refuted the demonstrators’ claim and explained that Bunso would be a satellite campus of the UESD, while the main campus would remain in Somanya.
Reacting to the concerns of the demonstrators in an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Prof. Kwesi Yankah, said not a single building or structure of the original plan of the campus designed by the previous government had been removed, transferred or reduced by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.
He said the original agreement signed by the previous government with contractors was what was being followed and nothing had been altered.
Prof. Yankah said he suspected that the people of the area were deliberately being misinformed.
“It is a deliberate attempt to peddle falsehood in order to give the government a bad name and undermine the peace and tranquillity in the area,” he said.
Prof. Yankah added that he was convinced the demonstration was politically motivated and asked the leadership of the demonstrators to visit the site where the university was under construction to ascertain progress of work.
He appealed to the people to remain calm, as there was no need for agitation.
He said work on structures at the university was progressing steadily and gave an assurance that the project would be completed before the end of 2019, stressing that there was no way the government could have decided to discontinue the project.
In the petition, which was signed by some executive members of the UKF, the group appealed to President Akufo-Addo and the government not to relocate the main campus of the university from Somanya to Bunso.
According to the group, Act 898 that established the university states: “The University of Environment and Sustainable Development shall be established in Somanya and Donkorkrom respectively,” and not Bunso.
It said the alleged relocation of the main campus to Bunso was a conspiracy against Krobos.
It noted that the idea of the Krobo area hosting a university was conceived way back in 1962, during President Nkrumah’s government, and alleged that the present government was thwarting the effort of the Krobo area getting the main campus of the university.
The leader of the group, Mr Joshua Ogbordjor Evor, who read the petition, said taking the main campus of the university to Bunso was a clear case of ethnocentrism.
“We wish to state to the present government that the main UESD campus must be sited in Somanya, as was originally planned.
“We also wish to state that the siting of the Bunso campus must be rescinded and all matters concerning the university must go by the act establishing the Eastern University,’’ he said.
Mr Kupualor, who received the petition from the group, promised to forward it to President Akufo-Addo.