Prof. Ebenezer Oduro-Owusu and Andrea Pizziconi
PROFESSOR EBENEZER Oduro Owusu, Vice Chancellor (VC) of the University of Ghana, has denied allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against him by Andrea Pizziconi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Africa Integras.
Speaking to Accra-based OK FM yesterday on phone in reaction to the allegation, Prof. Owusu stressed, “I, Owusu Aduonu, have done nothing wrong. I want to use your platform to categorically deny any such allegations on my person. There was no way I could have hugged her because the business she called for was a serious one.”
“If she has been able to come out with such a charge just to tarnish the image of the university and myself, then it means, seriously, this lady does not fear God. Anyway, I pray God to forgive all her sins. Those who know my character know that such a thing cannot happen. I always speak for the truth and ensure that the right thing is done. I, therefore, see this publication as coming from a desperate, frustrated and bitter woman,” he added.
Africa Integras entered into an agreement with the University of Ghana in 2014 and signed by the former VC Prof. Ernest Aryeetey. The agreement was to invest $64 million in the construction of new students’ housing on Legon campus.
The project was structured under a 25-year Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement.
It was also to construct a new dedicated facility for the College of Basic and Applied Sciences and the Institute of Technology and Applied Sciences, as well as a new facility for the College of Health Sciences.
Pressure from Ms. Pizziconi
Prof. Owusu admitted that though Ms. Pizziconi drew his attention to the aforementioned contract when he took over as VC, the amount of money involved in the contract was too huge, so he decided not to endorse the project.
He said not satisfied with this stance, Ms. Pizziconi continued to pressurize him for a private meeting but he again did not yield to that.
Prof. Owusu said at a point, when Ms. Pizziconi’s demand for the secret meeting got unbearable, he summoned the university registrar to join him to meet her, and that was where the woman was embarrassed by the questions that were posed to her.
Why such an allegation now?
Prof. Owusu said he was shocked that while he decided not to leak this information into the public domain, Ms. Pizziconi decided to drag him into the mud with this charge, particularly when the ‘Sex for Grades’ issue was being investigated.
“This woman said she was coming to invest GH¢64 million into the project. But when I took over, I realised that the university would have to pay $25 million to her every year for the next 25 years which sums up to a total of $600 million. So if you have been put in charge of such an institution, you ask yourself where you would get such funds from. Even government cannot pay such money when it is asked to do so.”
He added that he called for a renegotiation of the contract instead of meeting her privately and that got the lady ranting.
“I, then, insisted that I worked with a team and, therefore, her demand for a private meeting with her could not materialise. So that was what happened,” he said.
Ms. Pizziconi’s case
The CEO of Africa Integras claims the ‘Sex for Grades’ investigative piece resonated deeply with her.
On her Twitter page, she wrote, “I have remained mostly quiet despite the battery of attacks by Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu on my dignity. I was advised not to make waves and definitely not to raise the #metoo flag if I wanted to put the project back on track, which I do. Now I feel compelled to speak up and draw a direct line between this sex scandal and our derailed project.”
According to her, at a UG Council meeting in August 2017, the VC suggested that the contract which was signed between herself and the past VC was invalid “as it was signed under duress in a hotel room.”
BY Melvin Tarlue