Opposition Member of Parliament for Tamale South Haruna Iddrisu has denied allegations of plagiarism being leveled against him by the University of Ghana Academic Board.
The university according to Accra based JoyFM has revoked Mr. Iddrisu's Masters degree because it found instances of plagiarism in his thesis 'Sociological Investigation into Bribery and Corruption in the Public Service of Ghana'.
But speaking exclusively to the dailyEXPRESS, Mr. Iddrisu denied any wrongdoing insisting “I've not now or before, nor will I ever use a short cut or an easy way in the pursuit of my life goals be it academic or politics. I'll prove to the university within the next few years that I've enormous potential to achieve greater academic laurels.”
The decision of the Academic board which is yet to be communicated to the Tamale South MP was taken, according to JoyFM after a heated meeting of the Academic Board.
The NDC Youth Organiser says his thesis which has six chapters and a total of one hundred & seventy-four pages has “over sixty references (authorities) on the subject area, so it couldn't be the plagiarised work of one individual author who is strangely the most acknowledged in my thesis.”
The author in question is Justice P. B. Anin, and according to Mr. Iddrisu he is acknowledged more than ten times in the thesis and listed as reference number four (4) in the biography of the thesis.
Confronted by the dailyEXPRESS about the report of an investigative committee that concluded that he should 'correct some omissions in the thesis', Mr. Iddrisu confirmed that the committee did make such a recommendation, explaining that “the academic board would be erring in their judgement for failing to recognise that the few omissions was the result of human error. The omissions talked about affected just the introductory chapter, which in my view is normal.”
The committee which included Dr. Baffour Atta and Dr. Ohene Konadu among others recommended that there's no case against the MP, except to ask that some omissions be recorded.
Some senior members of the University have meanwhile told the dailyEXPRESS that the academic board's decision if confirmed will be a major flaw and embarrassment to the supervisors of Mr. Iddrisu's thesis.
The thesis which was presented in 2000 was not only supervised and approved by the two senior lecturers, Dr. Chris Abotsi, then head of sociology department and Dr. Y. Yangyouru, but recommended for subsequent approval by the academic board of the university. It was also passed external examiners.
dailyiEXPRESS picked up signals that the reported withdrawal of the MP's Masters Degree had been circulated to some media houses ahead of the academic board's meeting last Friday. At least three media houses made contact with the MP days ahead of the board's meeting.
Interestingly, Mr. Iddrisu says the media houses had the confirmed decisions of the academic board before their meeting.
Saturday's Ghanaian Times added a new twist to the politicisation and reading of mischief into the university's decision with a publication by a former university registrar Ebow Daniel titled “Point of order, Mr. Speaker” which makes reference to this case.
Mr. Daniel wrote among others that “a Freshman Member of Parliament, a rising star has indeed published a book on corruption that is by no means beautiful. Ghana's brand of corruption is the subject that has engaged others also including Mr. Justice P. D. Anin, Professor V. T. Le Vine and Professor S. N. Woode, all of whom have publications to show. Originally an M.Phil thesis, the curious thing about the latest addition to the stock of publications on the subject of corruption is that it reads in parts like those earlier studies, and there is no acknowledgement.”
“But there were acknowledgements in my thesis”, was the response of Mr. Iddrisu when we re-made contact with him after reading the piece. “If it is the same thinking that informed the decision of the academic board then, in my view that is most regrettable, unfortunate and grossly unfair.”
Stan, you've a copy of my book “Zero tolerance: Public sector corruption in Ghana” check and see if there are no acknowledgements. Indeed, my book and my M.Phil thesis are not the same both in character and in form.
According to Mr. Iddrisu, Mr. Daniel's claims are most despicable and outrageous, adding “he is a known NPP man, but this is a disgrace to him.”
The Tamale South MP went further to state that is the accusation was that he gave insufficient acknowledgement, he will concede, but any suggestion that there was no acknowledgement is a blatant lie.
Already, reactions to the story on the Internet have been extremely political, with many concluding that the decision of the university cannot be academic but political. Haruna Iddrisu is one of the loud mouthed young political activists in the NDC and according to his party colleagues; this is nothing but an attempt to 'punish the vociferous MP.'
Mr. Iddrisu himself will not jump to any conclusions yet. He told the dailyEXPRESS that he rather finds the university's decision surprising because he defended his thesis proposal at a seminar organised by the sociology department, was adjudged the best student at the end of the course work component of the program and awarded a fellowship by the same university.
“I was offered the Chrismon fellowship, which I remember sharing with one Quincly Abrakwa. For the same university to turn around to say what it is saying is very surprising.”
He also confirmed information picked up from the department that he was once appointed a lecturer by the university, explaining that though he received a letter of appointment on 25 April 2004 as a lecturer in Behavioural Sciences at the School of Public Health, he could not take up the appointment because of his political activities.
Mr. Iddrisu says he has accepted the challenge thrown by the university and will soon enrol for a PhD to prove the University wrong.