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Politics into academia?

Politics into academia?

CP Snow, later Lord Snow, was one of my favourite authors; his style of writing was beautiful. From him I learnt to use such expressions as “I refuse to accept responsibility for such and such action or situation.” Or “Shall you now, etc., etc.” My favourites among his many novels included ‘The Masters’ set in the background of academic life and intrigue in a Cambridge college. There was also ‘The Affair’ in which university politics was at play over the research activities of a young Don who was thought to be fellow walker. The third was ‘The Corridors of Power’ which was set around Westminster the citadel of democracy and political power in the UK. The Affair was intriguing because the main character was having his research result either suppressed or being tainted because his views were at variance with his peers.

Unfortunately in the last almost three years, politics and regionalism have become prominent in all aspects of our society; in the work place and sadly in our tertiary institutions. Practically in every case the intrusion begins with bizarre charges against the victims. There was the case of Professor Lawrence Kamara the Statistician-General who had to face trumped-up charges of maladministration and financial mismanagement. Last Sunday, on his programme on Governance under the signature tune of Monologue, David Tam-Baryoh expressed concern at clandestine moves, although he really should have said ‘intrigue’, to remove probably the head of the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences COMHAS.  Here too, as in Lawrence Kamara’s case Tam-Baryoh understands that there is talk of financial irregularity or misappropriation. The next move will be the suspension of the individual concerned only to be replaced by whomsoever the parties to the conspiracy would like to substitute him.

In both the University of Sierra Leone and at Njala University, it was said that the minister of education Minkailu Bah did not want Professors Gbakima and Alghali respectively to head both institutions and the humiliating way he went about it is now history. Both gentlemen have now been replaced but there is an interesting story behind the replacement exercise at the University of Sierra Leone at Mount Aureol, but that will come later. Still on Fourah Bay College, there is a disturbing story which I have labeled the AFFAIR which is also the heading of today’s column. It concerns Dr. Alpha Wurie a Seniour Lecturer in Chemistry at the University. I have researched my story without consulting or informing Alpha Wurie and would crave his indulgence if he feels embarrassed by it. What are 80 year olds for if is not to indulge them, especially if the 80 year old’s Bo School admission number is 592? I shall not disclose the former minister’s own except that it is four digits and high figures at that. The story is that Alpha Wurie had applied to be elevated to the rank of an Associate Professor in the University. Assessment for such request normally includes academic achievement, research work and public service. It is common knowledge that Alpha Wurie was the minister of education for 11 years in the last SLPP government. The record of his success as a minister is an open book. Establishing secondary schools in almost every chiefdom in the country, introducing the girl-child education project, the Sababu education project and the IDB projects as well as the rapid primary school programme for children who had missed out on primary school because of the war. And who has not heard of the Ramsey Medical Laboratories now on Liverpool street? He failed the assessment under that sector. Alpha Wurie is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chemistry and the only chartered chemist currently in the country as well as being a visiting Professor at one of the universities in London. All that did not impress the attesters. As for his research, I am told that the materials are all there and to the full knowledge of the attesters, but they were not impressed.

I have also learnt that the learned doctor is now offering his services to his students WITHOUT ANY REMUNERATION although have yet to confirm this with his students or alternatively with the man himself. If it is true then all I will say is, “What a patriotic and unselfish man is this.” So then what is the criterion, the yardstick by which the academic board based its assessment of Dr. Wurie’s proficiency, or has politics become a factor in academic circles, as in CP Snow’s THE AFFAIR? 

Puawui will be away until next week.

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