• February 9, 2024

Dr. Haja Ramatulai Wurie updates the press on the USL saga

Dr. Haja Ramatulai Wurie updates the press on the USL saga
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By Dr. Tonya Musa

The Minister Tertiary and Higher Education, Dr Wurie informed the press on Tuesday, 6th February, 2024 that the dissolved USL Court failed to appoint the Pro Vice Chancellor as provided in the Universities Act 2021. “I have no business in appointing an acting Vice Chancellor and Principal if there was a Pro Vice Chancellor,” she emphasized.

The Minister said after the appointment of the former VC &P, Professor Foday Sahr as Executive Director of the National Public Health Agency, and the appointment was ratified and approved in October 2023 by Parliament, the position of VC&P was vacant.

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This vacancy lasted from October, 2023 to December 2023.According to the Minister, since there was no records on the appointment of a Pro Vice Chancellor to fill this vacancy as provided in the said Act, the Minister made several inquiries about the appointment of the Acting VC &P. She was told by the Deputy Chairman of Court that the Pro Vice Chancellor was yet to be appointed by Court. She engaged the former Chancellor on appointing the acting VC &P and thereafter putting together a search committee as provided in the Act. The former Chancellor consented for her to do so. All of these activities were done and documented in October, 2023.

Based on the implications of the vacuum in the leadership of the University but Professor Foday Sahr was still performing the regular functions of the VC&P and receiving all benefits for it, she appointed Professor Lawrence Kamara to act as the VC&P to expedite the recruitment of the substantive VC&P.

This decision was rejected by the former USL Court. The Registrar USL, Mrs Olive Barrie said there was a Pro Vice Chancellor of USL whose office was a verbal understanding among the three DVCs but not appointed as required by law, or the provisions in the Act. After several deliberations, the MTHE minister reaffirmed the appointment of Professor Lawrence Kamara in December but it was rejected by the USL Court that they have ratified Professor Mohamed Samai as the Pro Vice Chancellor on 24th January, 2024.

The Parliamentary Oversight Committee of Higher education intervened by inviting all parties to Parliament to update them about the situation in order to foster mutual arrangements. After their presentations, Parliament noted that the USL Court did not appoint the Pro Vice Chancellor as required by law and therefore urged that the appointment of Professor Kamara be accepted for six months spanning from 11th December, 2023 to 11th June 2024. During this time they would have recruited the substantive VC&P.

 

Unfortunately, the Court rejected the advice and decision of Parliament.

As a result of the persistent negative portrayal of MTHE by mass media and misinformation and misrepresentation on social media, TEC decided to advice the government as part of their responsibilities provided in the objectives of the TEC Act.

They advised MTHE to:

Nullify all decisions and resolutions made by the Court after December 11th 2023 to the dissolution of the Court in January, 2024.  Secondly to dissolve the Court with immediate effect; to constitute an oversight Committee to manage the affairs of the University until a new Court is constituted and to investigate the conduct of the former Court that resulted in a crisis leading to the dissolution of the Court. MTHE therefore accepted the advice of TEC and dissolved the Court with immediate effect thereby nullifying all decisions and resolutions made by the Court from 11th December, 2023 to the date the Court was dissolved. The Oversight Committee has been constituted and they will have orientation on Friday coming. The investigation is pending.

The Minister disclosed the resignation tendered by Professor Lawrence Kamara and informed the press that MTHE has accepted the decision of Prof Kamara. The Minister said, this is an opportunity to search for an international renowned scholar to act as VC&P until the substantive is appointed. This individual can bring external perspectives and initiatives to promote performance management and leadership styles as strategic measures to rebrand the university.

MTHE is going to institute investigation immediately regarding the problems of the former Court.

The Minister informed the press about the end of term of Contracts for the Registrar, Mrs. Olive Barrie and the Finance Director, Mrs. Waltina Mackay. Their contracts ended on January 31st 2024. This has nothing to do with the VC&P saga. They were notified in a letter done by the former VC &P, Professor Foday Sahr to them respectively and that action was reported to Court in a meeting in November, 2023. Court resolved that they submit their stewardship reports to be reviewed as part of the procedure for a renewal or otherwise.

The two officials were sent on leave with immediate effect while a system will be put in place to review their stewardship reports for renewal or otherwise. Since there is no Court at the moment, MTHE sent them on leave? Being that they are supposed to be on leave effective 1st February, 2024, anything done by any of them in respect of their offices is null and void.

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