Robert Porter Jackson, US Ambassador to Ghana
Some lecturers of the Ho Technical University (HTU) have accused the institution of engaging in visa racketeering.
Earlier, the university was accused of engaging in financial impropriety and malfeasance, as well as breaches of procurement laws.
The lecturers, in a press release sighted by DAILY GUIDE, alleged that the US Embassy in Accra had blacklisted the university due to the visa racketeering.
Owing to the situation, lecturers and other members of the university community would find it difficult to obtain visas to travel to the United States of America (USA).
Lecturers of the university, who are part of the HTU chapter of the Technical University Teachers Association of Ghana (TUTAG), made the allegations.
Speaking to DAILY GUIDE, the Chairman of the HTU of TUTAG, Albert Laurent Sakabutu, explained that prior to the conversion of Polytechnics to Technical Universities in 2016, there was a retooling exercise led by an American company called Amatrol, which was expected to benefit HTU, then Ho Polytechnic.
As part of the programme, five staff were to be trained in the United States of America in Mechatronics, Electrical Engineering and Hydraulics to be able to use the Amatrol laboratory effectively to teach students.
He added that the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, in consultation with the beneficiary departments, reportedly selected qualified staff for the training and forwarded the list to the office of the Interim Vice Chancellor which was approved.
In the process, the registrar added members, who were not approved, including non-members and a contractor. This discrepancy was detected and all the staff were denied visas by the US Embassy in Accra, he claimed.
The lecturers alleged that the US Ambassador to Ghana failed to pay a courtesy call on the university’s management when he held a programme on the campus radio station, Volta Premier Fm some months ago due to the problem.
They also claimed the staff of Hospitality Department of HTU were denied visas to attend a conference in the US due to the alleged previous conduct of the university.
The lecturers wondered why staff of similar departments in other technical universities, who were invited for the conference, obtained visas to travel to the US.
For Sakabutu and his lecturers, the incident has impugned the image of the university and called for measures to address the problem.
When contacted, the Registrar of the University, Dr Chris Amehoe, declined to comment on the matter, saying the university’s management do not have a copy of the statement.
He also stated that the Governing Council of the University has not authorized him to speak on the matter.
US Embassy’s Response
Meanwhile, the Press Attaché of the US Embassy in Ghana Sara Veldhuizen Stealy has told DAILY GUIDE that since visa applications are confidential and treated on individual basis, she would not comment on the issue.
Ms Stealy added that “in fact, I was just there last month and one of our consular officers visited in February. Visa records are confidential under US law so we can’t comment on individual cases, but it is US policy that consular officers adjudicate each visa case based on individual merit.”
From Fred Duodu, Ho (email@example.com)