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10.02.2009 Politics

We’ll not revoke GT sale – Haruna

By gna

Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minister-nominee for Communications, on Tuesday said government would not revoke the sale of Ghana Telecommunication (GT) to Vodafone BV but would consider a review of the sale.

He made the statement in answer to a question at his vetting by the Parliamentary Appointments Committee.

Mr Iddrisu, who is also the Member of Parliament for Tamale South and Former Minority Spokesperson on Communications, said the intentions of the Government to consider a review of the GT/Vodafone Sales Purchase Agreement (SPA) did not constitute a revocation of the sale as some members of the public had concluded.

“I can assure you that review is not the same as revocation and we are not here to revoke the sale of GT,” he said.

He said the idea of reviewing the SPA was not his personal opinion but that of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as a party, saying; “if it will be done, it will be done in good faith without any prejudices whatsoever”.

He noted that, the reasons a review of the SPA may be considered included the fact that it placed obligations on the Government as the minority shareholder to provide a working capital for the company and also to make an investment of US$30 million into the National Fibre Optics Backbone.

Mr Iddrisu noted that, currently, Vodafone had full control over the fibre optics backbone and was playing both wholesaler and retailer, saying that, that arrangement was not necessarily fair to the other players.

“There is the need to protect the smaller Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for instance to make them more vibrant and also to ensure that they provided affordable and reliable service to consumers,” he said.

He argued that it was in a well-functioning internet service that ICT could be beneficial to the public and not just in computerization of operations as was erroneously and widely held.

Asked if the review of the GT sale would not circumvent the sovereignty of Parliament since the sale was approved by Parliament, he said, to the extent that not all of Parliament's decisions had stood the test of time, Government had the right to review any Parliament decision if it felt the need to do so.

Mr Iddrisu told the Committee that, when given the nod, he would pursue a vigorous ICT education programme in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.

He said the focus would be to make telecom, broadband internet and other real ICT features relevant to Ghanaians from a very youthful age.

On the question of a petition brought to the Committee by Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) against his nomination because he was cited for plagiarism and stripped of his Masters Degree by the University of Ghana, he explained that he was yet to seek redress on the matter either by petitioning the Vice Chancellor of the University or in the law courts.

Mr Iddrisu explained that he did not present another person's research for his Masters Degree but rather committed an unintentional error in not making proper attribution of a material he used in his thesis.

He said the report of a Technical Committee which investigated the matter recommended that he withdrew his thesis, made the correction and resubmitted but the University's Board set the Committee's report aside and rather withdrew his Masters Degree for reasons best known to the Board.

“I know there are other Members of Parliament whose theses are under similar scrutiny but I can assure you that I have never intentionally plagiarised anybody's work and I will never do that,” he said.

Some members of the Committee advised the Nominee to go to every extent to clear his name on that matter since younger persons, who looked up to him as a role model might have been adversely affected by the matter.

Mr Iddrisu, 38, obtained his Master of Philosophy (MPHIL) Degree from the University of Ghana in 2001 and it was withdrawn in 2006 based on allegations that he plagiarised the work of one Justice P.A. Ennin.