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UG debt: NAPO tarnishing my image – Prof Aryeetey

The immediate past Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana Professor Ernest Aryeetey has accused Education Minister Mathew Opoku Prempeh and the current head of the institution of tarnishing his image over claims that he led the university to borrow money for the construction of hostels.

The comment comes after the Education disclosed in a media interview that assets of the university could be auctioned to defray a debt of $64.4 million procured under the former Vice Chancellor.

Reacting to the claim, Professor Aryeetey said: “What they have both failed to understand is that the University entered into a concession agreement with Africa Integras, an American company, to build 5 structures at Legon at a total cost of $64.4 million. Africa Integras borrowed a part of that money from the US government agency, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). The rest of the funds came from the private company WP Carey as its equity in the deal. The project was to be undertaken on a “Build, Operate and Transfer” basis. What this meant was that Africa Integras would own the buildings and rent out space in them to Legon. The University was not going to rent simple empty space. The space was going to be fully furnished and equipped for teaching and research purposes”.

He stressed the agreement was in the best interest of the university and that he had no personal interest.

Below are details of the statement by Professor Aryeetey

The Vice Chancellor of University of Ghana and the Minister of Education of Ghana are trying very hard to make the world believe that I led the University to borrow $64.4 million to build a students hostel. Nothing could be further from the truth. The University of Ghana never borrowed any such money!!!

What they have both failed to understand is that the University entered into a concession agreement with Africa Integras, an American company, to build 5 structures at Legon at a total cost of $64.4 million. Africa Integras borrowed a part of that money from the US government agency, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). The rest of the funds came from the private company WP Carey as its equity in the deal. The project was to be undertaken on a “Build, Operate and Transfer” basis. What this meant was that Africa Integras would own the buildings and rent out space in them to Legon. The University was not going to rent simple empty space. The space was going to be fully furnished and equipped for teaching and research purposes. It included modern state of the art and well equipped laboratories for the science units of the university. And all of this was going to be maintained and managed by Africa Integras for 25 years at agreed high standards. This is what the VC and the Minister have deliberately refused to tell the world for reasons best known to them.

The University undertook extensive feasibility analysis of the project through its Business School and concluded that using the BOT approach was far better than borrowing directly. The agreement provided for various ways in which the University could finance its annual rent payments. Without exploring these financing options, the new University management had concluded that it cannot afford the project. In order to justify the VC’s lack of interest in the project, he has told one lie after the other. Unfortunately people who should be more discerning, have believed him without subjecting the agreement and the processes leading to it, to any proper scrutiny.

l am convinced that the agreement was in the best interest of the University in order to solve its many space and modern technology problems. This is especially so since it provided for discussion and renegotiation at a future date at the request of either party

The Minister also made the point that the Government of Ghana was kept in the dark about the project. This is clearly false and we can easily prove that.

I can assure the whole world that nothing illegal, immoral or irregular occurred in the negotiation of this deal. I was never offered any incentive whatsoever by the parties we negotiated with. And I never asked for anything!

I believe that the deliberate effort to tarnish my image is driven by other issues and differences that have nothing to do with this project. Stopping the project, as UG has done, is not only going to deprive Ghanaian students of modern learning facilities, but going to add several millions of dollars to the cost unnecessarily. It is the hope of the Minister of Education and the University Management that when that happens, they can conveniently blame Ernest Aryeetey for it.

I trust fully in the Good Lord to show Ghanaians the truth. I also hope that other persons who know the truth will find the courage to speak out publicly.

Ernest Aryeetey

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