The late Professor John Evans Atta Mills made a solemn promise to the good people of the Volta Region that if elected President of the Republic of Ghana in 2008, he would build a university for them.
True to his word, Professor Mills, after he was sworn in, set the necessary machinery in motion to actualise his promise to Voltarians. In fact, the first intake of a 100 students was well publicised before Election 2012.
Then acting President/presidential candidate John Dramani Mahama, and the NDC campaign machinery for Election 2012, touted the University of Health and Allied Sciences as one the achievements for which the party should be rewarded with another term in office.
It is, therefore, shocking to hear that a full year after UHAS admitted its first batch of students it has no Administrative Block, no accommodation for its second batch of 500 students for the 2013-2014 academic year and lecturers, and no laboratories. A University of Health and Allied Sciences without laboratories?
According to the UHAS VC, to enable the twice-postponed academic year take off:
A private hostel in Ho is being renovated to accommodate the students;
A six-unit classroom block for the university is being converted into accommodation for some lecturers;
The VC, Professor Fred Binka, said going forward, UHAS:
Needs more that its current faculty of 7;
Is worried over when upgrading of Regional Hospital to Teaching Hospital, including two seminar rooms at Ho and Hohoe, valued at a total of US$1.6 million, would start so they could admit medical students;
Has no funds for three key laboratories, including anatomy and physiology, though land and drawings are ready;
Needs a 2,500 capacity auditorium;
Needs Administrative block for the Administration and Faculty; and
Appeals for expeditious completion of a SSNIT-sponsored 500-bed hospital at its permanent site.
"There are plans to open the School of Pharmacy at the Hohoe campus, but all these call for adequate funding for the needed infrastructure for the smooth take-off of the UHAS," Professor Binka informed the visiting Volta Region Parliamentary Caucus on Education.
The Chronicle is shocked that a university, initiated five years ago in 2008 under presidential fiat, could face such daunting financial challenges. Private individuals have been known to do far better in similar circumstances. And, therefore, the question as to how much was voted for the take-off of the institution becomes of the moment.
And the government cannot be heard to say that no money was voted for the take-off of the UHAS. So the next pertinent question is, WHERE IS THE MONEY SO VOTED? And why is the university bereft of basic infrastructure of even an ordinary senior high school?
Or was the UHAS set up to deceive the people to vote for the NDC as the opposition claim?
The Chronicle notes the criticism of its lead headline of yesterday - NO CASH FOR NDC VARSITY - by commentators as being mischievous. But we admit of no such mischief. It was deliberately coined to put the NDC on the spot, and prompt the government to do the needful timeously for such a laudable project.
Communicators of the NDC are heard all over the airwaves preening themselves of a track record of massive educational expansion programmes any time they are in power. We do not begrudge them that credit.
But, if they are truthful, they will be the first to admit that the current reported abject state of the Volta University is a disgrace to whatever record they are wont to claim.
We do hope they are learning the necessary lessons, and would not repeat same with the Eastern University that is currently being engineered. A word to the wise ...