Claim: A newspaper and a pressure group say AMEU President Alvin Attah and AMEZU President Benjamin Lartey have both stepped down.
Verdict: The Presidents of the two universities have not resigned. The claim by the Analyst Newspaper and Martin Kollie, the lead campaigner of the Campaigners for Academy Crimes Court (CACC), made is false.
On Tuesday, February 14, 2023, the Liberian Government, through the National Commission on Higher Education, issued a statement mandating all Presidents and Vice Presidents for Academic Affairs of Universities in the country to have doctorate degrees.
The statement, which went viral on Facebook, states that honorary degree holders are disallowed from serving as a President or Vice President for Academic Affairs at any higher education institutions (universities) in Liberia.
As a result of this statement, the lead campaigner of the Campaigners for Academy Crimes Court (CACC) in Liberia, Martin Kollie, posted on Facebook that the Presidents of the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion University (AMEZU) Alvin Attah and Benjamin Lartey respectively had resigned their posts.
This post made by Martin Kollie had over 240 comments, 54 shares and over 335 emojis.
DUBAWA also contacted Martin Kollie to discover the source of his information, but he said he could not disclose his source because “they are insiders at the two universities.”
Martin suggested to DUBAWA that “the presidents resigned but only chose to be hypocritical to save face when Minister Ansu Sonii ‘suspended’ the NCHE policy four days after.”
Also, a local daily, The Analyst newspaper, reported in its Friday, February 17, 2023, edition that the Presidents of the two universities have resigned.
DUBAWA visited the official websites of AME University and AME Zion University to ascertain whether official statements had been issued by the universities regarding the matter but could find nothing to that effect.
Instead, the two universities stated on Tuesday, February 21, 2023, denying the report by the Analyst newspaper and the lead campaigner of the Campaigners for Academy Crimes Court (CACC) in Liberia, Martin Kollie.
“The Board of Trustees of the AME University, the policy-making body of the university, would have had to meet any acceptance of the alleged and speculative resignation letter of the President of the University, as well to decide on any further course of action needed to be taken for the protection and continued smooth operations of the university,” a statement signed by the AME University Board of Trustees reads.
The statement furthered, “the publication was made in the absence of any evidence of a meeting having been held by the Board of Trustee of the AMEU to discuss any of the issues stated in the analyst’s speculative and false news story.”
A statement signed by the AME Zion University Vice President administration also reads, “the Board of Trustees and administration of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion University (AMEZU) all partners, students, employees and the general public, that information being circulated about the resignation of Dr Benjamin Lartey, President of the University is false and diabolical and intended to undermine the University.”
DUBAWA also engaged authorities of the National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE) as to what prompted their recent decision and why it was necessary.
According to the NCHE Head, Professor Edward Lama Wonkeryor, the decision resulted from a promise made months ago to eliminate the rising number of tertiary institution presidents without terminal degrees. He clarified that it was a way to stop the country’s higher education system from deteriorating.
“To achieve the much-needed reform of our higher education system as advocated by President George Manneh Weah, the NCHE is implementing all policies and standards established for the governance of the sector, especially those policies that seek to place our higher education system into equivalence with our regional and international contemporaries,” the Professor said.
However, DUBAWA discovered that the Ministry of Education is not in favour of said policy issued by the NCHE. Consequently, the Ministry, through its Minister, told the state-owned media entity, The Liberia Broadcasting System or ELBC, that the policy has been suspended and will remain so until the Board of Commissioners of the NCHE meets.
“The policy will remain suspended until the NCHE Director General, Dr Edward Wonkeryor, and the Board of Commissioners meet for appropriate consultation and justification. While the Board of Commissioners is committed to reforming the higher education sector, and policy implementation must be done appropriately,” Minister Ansu Sonii said.
The National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE) was founded in 1989 by an Act of the National Legislature to formulate broad policy guidelines for establishing Institutions of Higher Education in Liberia. It serves as the regulatory body for all institutions offering degrees and as the principal liaison between institutions of learning offering degrees in the country.
Based on extensive research made by DUBAWA concerning claims made by both the Analyst newspaper and the lead campaigner of the Campaigners for Academy Crimes Court (CACC) lead campaigner, the two university presidents are still effective in their respective posts.