In 2021, the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) expressed concerns about violations in the appointment of university retirees to substantive positions.
“The Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) has noted with concern the increasing appointment of post-retirement contract staff into various offices in Public Funded Higher Education Institutions (PFHEI).
“Further, PFHEIs are to note that persons who are re-engaged after retirement, subject to permission, cannot be assigned ‘position holding’ roles nor draw allowances due a person still in active service,” GTEC said in a letter dated June 8, 2021, and signed by its Deputy Director-General, Dr. Ahmed Jinapor Abdulai.
The GTEC, formerly known as the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) and the National Accreditation Board (NAB), also issued a strong order in that letter.
“The Integrated Personnel Payroll Department (IPPD) and Budget Department of the Commission [are] by a copy of this letter directed not to process the emoluments of any post-retired staff without the requisite evidence after August 1, 2021.”
The order was served on vice-chancellors, registrars and finance directors of universities across the country. But one of the recipients of the letter, Professor Eric Magnus Wilmot, is a university retiree who has been holding a substantive top position as Vice-Chancellor of the C.K. Tedam University of Technology and Applied Sciences (CKT-UTAS) since 2020.
Previously known as the Navrongo Campus of the University for Development Studies (UDS), CKT-UTAS became autonomous in April 2020.
Prof. Wilmot retired from UCC and was appointed Vice-Chancellor
Prof. Wilmot retired voluntarily in 2019 from the University of Cape Coast (UCC), where he was the Provost of the College of Education Studies for three years.
In 2020, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo granted him an interim appointment for only one year as vice-chancellor for the CKT-UTAS. The interim appointment was due to elapse in July 2021.
But before the appointment elapsed, the university’s governing council issued its own appointment to Prof. Wilmot, giving him four years to serve further as vice-chancellor.
The post-retirement appointment of Prof. Wilmot as vice-chancellor, who turned 60 years on April 28, 2022, took effect on September 1, 2020. It is due to elapse on 31st August 2024― when he will be more than 62 years.
The appointment made by the council is contrary to rules governing such appointments in public universities in Ghana.
Checks by The Fourth Estate have revealed that Prof. Wilmot has been drawing salaries and allowances since his post-retirement appointment as vice-chancellor.
He received all his entitlements when he retired from the UCC three years ago. He is also entitled to more benefits when he retires for a second time by 2024 per the conditions of his post-retirement service at the CKT-UTAS.
The vice-chancellor is not the only person who has been given a substantive appointment that transcends the 60th birthday at the CKT-UTAS.
Registrar retired from KNUST
The Registrar of CKT-UTAS, Dr. Vincent A. Ankamah-Lomotey, is a former deputy registrar of the College of Science at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
While he was serving as a deputy registrar at the KNUST, President Akufo-Addo gave him an interim appointment in 2020 for one year as the registrar of the CKT-UTAS. He was a little over 59 years at the time, with barely a year to hit the mandatory retirement age of 60.
Months before the one-year interim appointment was to elapse in July 2021, the school’s governing council offered him a four-year appointment.
He, too, will go home with some benefits when he retires again.
Both the retiree vice-chancellor and the registrar are no longer serving the president’s one-year interim appointments, which elapsed in July 2021. They are currently serving in substantive positions on the full-term appointments issued by the governing council contrary to the rule.
Reactions from Vice-Chancellor and Registrar
When The Fourth Estate engaged the vice-chancellor on the post-retirement appointment, he said no rule had been broken.
“This letter is about those who remain to continue working after 60. It’s not about conditions for the appointment of foundation vice-chancellors or registrars. So, you are referencing a wrong letter [or] regulation,” he said.
The Fourth Estate drew his attention to the contents of the GTEC’s letter― specifically the portions where the letter says persons who are re-engaged after retirement cannot be assigned ‘position holding’ roles nor draw allowances due a person still in active service. Asked if the letter did not apply to him given that he had already retired and was occupying a substantive office at a public university under the same GTEC, he declined to answer that question.
And when he was asked if he did not see anything wrong in drawing salaries and allowances from a public office today after he had gone on retirement at a different public university and taken all his retirement benefits, he said he deserved his current post-retirement earnings.
“Why should I? I’m performing the role. I have to be paid commensurate salaries and allowances. What is wrong with that? There is nothing wrong,” he said.
On his part, the registrar told The Fourth Estate he did not apply for the job. He said he accepted the position after he received an invitation from the Ministry of Education to “come and serve”.
“I did not apply for any job. I was sitting somewhere in Kumasi when I got a call from the minister’s office, that the minister said I should come to Accra because they were going to inaugurate governing councils of three new universities.
“So, I asked the lady, ‘I am confused because I didn’t apply for any job’. I consulted my friends. They said, ‘Well, this is a national call; you need to heed’. So, I agreed,” he said.
On why he accepted the four-year term of a registrar when he was less than a year to hit his retirement age of 60, he said the governing council and the GTEC would be better placed to answer that.
Governing Council fails to provide evidence of due process
Per the convention, after the search party has been set up, the the vacancy is advertised locally and internationally. When interested persons apply, the search party does a shortlisting. Then, the shortlisted candidates are invited and interviewed.
Subsequently, the search panel comes up with the results and selects only the top two among the interviewed candidates. The top two are then presented to the university’s governing council to decide which of the two finalists should be the vice-chancellor.
Finally, the entire university is officially notified of the appointment of the new vice-chancellor through a circular. The same procedure applies in appointing a registrar.
The appointments of Prof. Wilmot and the registrar reportedly did not follow the normal. But the Chairman of the Governing Council of CKT-UTAS, Prof. Gordon A. Awandare, told The Fourth Estate that they followed the normal procedure.
Asked why such appointments were issued contrary to GTEC’s post-retirement appointment requirements, Prof. Awandare said the former Minister for Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, gave the approval after he asked for the minister’s advice “when the ages of Professor Wilmot and the registrar became an issue”.
Prof. Awandare further backed the council’s decision by making reference to President Akufo-Addo’s appointment of Martin Amidu as a special prosecutor after his retirement age.
The Fourth Estate asked Prof. Awandare for evidence that the CKT-UTAS’ governing council followed due process in appointing Prof. Wilmot as vice-chancellor― aside from the issues of his post-retirement appointment and extension of the appointment beyond his 60th birthday. He did not provide any.
The GTEC’s Director-General, Prof. Mohammed Salifu, wrote an approval letter to the governing council for the four-year appointments of Prof. Wilmot and Dr. Ankamah-Lomotey as vice-chancellor and registrar respectively at the request of the former education minister.
But when The Fourth Estate contacted Prof. Salifu on September 30, 2022, he said he was not aware that Prof. Wilmot had gone on retirement at the UCC prior to his appointment as vice-chancellor at the CKT-UTAS.
Both Prof. Salifu and Prof. Awandare said the four-year appointments of Prof. Wilmot and Dr. Ankamah-Lomotey were issued because the school was new.
However, checks show there are other equally new universities where governing councils, following the rule, have not offered any appointments that go beyond the age of 60 years.
An example is CKT-UTAS’ counterpart in the Upper West Region, formerly known as the UDS Wa Campus. That university became autonomous in the same year as the CKT-UTAS and changed its name to SD Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies (SDD-UBIDS). The school’s governing council followed due process in regularising the appointment of its current vice-chancellor, Prof. Philip Duku Osei. When Prof. Osei’s one-year interim appointment as vice-chancellor elapsed in 2021, the governing council offered him a fresh appointment that is not going beyond his 60th birthday. The university’s Governing Council Chairman, Kwaku Yamoah Painting, confirmed this to The Fourth Estate.
Former education minister denies breaking the rule
It is alleged that Prof. Salifu and the CKT-UTAS Governing Council acted under intense political pressure in the appointments. When The Fourth Estate contacted the former Education Minister, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, he said his role in the four-year appointments did not break any rules.
“If such an appointment was made in an official capacity, why ask me? So, seeking my advice because this is a nascent university broke which rule? My advice was sought and [I] acted within the legal system,” said Dr Opoku Prempeh.
But stating his position on the matter, a retired UDS pro-vice-chancellor, Prof. David Millar, said the appointments were in breach of the rule and did not follow the normal practice.
Prof. Millar, however, said the four-year substantive appointments issued by the governing council did not follow the procedure of appointing vice-chancellors and registrars in Ghana.
“Where there is no chancellor, the president is the chancellor of that university. In the case of CKT-UTAS, the president is the chancellor. He has the prerogative to appoint the vice-chancellor, but he is unlikely to extend it. Very unlikely. Such appointments normally are on a short-term contract, not more than two years. You are given specific deliverables; then, you exit after a short time.
“When you want a vice-chancellor, you would put up a search party. But I know, for those people (Prof. Wilmot and Dr. Ankamah-Lomotey) there were no search parties. You see, already the main rule has been broken in that light. And when you put a search party there, you ask for a lot more applicants. It should also be advertised locally and internationally. That was not done. So, these are not normal appointments,” Prof. Millar stated.
Finance Ministry under pressure, opposes Post-retirement Appointments
As some public-university retirees still occupy substantive positions in the country and continue to draw salaries and allowances due only staff in active service, the Ministry of Finance does not conceal how it struggles to provide extra funds every month to pay retirees enjoying extra years in substantive offices.
On August 5, 2022, the ministry wrote to public institutions, highlighting the government’s inability to grant financial clearance for post-retirement contract appointments.
“Please, refer to the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy which has been submitted and approved by Parliament for the 2022 fiscal year. The Ministry of Finance wishes to inform Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies [MDAs] and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) of some Expenditure Policy Measures as outlined in the 2022 Budget Statement.
“Paragraph 324 of the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy states ‘Government has, with immediate effect, suspended the granting of approval for Post-Retirement Contract Appointments, except in cases where the skills of the retiring officer are in short supply and unavoidably needed’.
In view of this, we are unable to grant financial clearance for Post-Retirement Contract Appointment at this stage. Please, treat as urgent,” said the letter signed by Deputy Minister for Finance, Abena Osei Asare, for the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta.
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