19.03.2005 General News

Row over JJ’s Doctorate Award - Aliu Speaks

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*I Didn't Order Cancellation Of Award *Neither did l meet UDS Board Chairman CREDIBLE INFORMATION PICKED up by the GYE NYAME CONCORD by press time yesterday indicated that a livid Vice President Aliu Mahama has told close aides that he had nothing to do with the cancellation of the ceremony to award a honorary doctorate degree to former President Jerry John Rawlings.

He is also reported to have denied ever meeting the Chairman of the Council of the University of Development Studies (UDS), Mr. Charles Gyima Friday night as alleged by both former President Rawlings and his special aide, Mr. Victor Smith, on radio yesterday.

The Vice President, sources say, also asked his aides to officially indicate that he had no role in the scandalous attempt to thwart the award ceremony.

Close aides told this paper that he has challenged the 'runaway' chairman of the UDS Board, Mr. Gyima to speak to the issue publicly and tell Ghanaians the truth about the reasons behind his letter to decision.

Meantime, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) yesterday lauded the decision of the UDS to honour former President Rawlings and criticised the attempt to disorganise the ceremony.

In a statement signed by the Acting General Secretary, Mr Bede Ziedeng the NDC said the award would be an honour for the former president, his family and the NDC. The party said it completely associates itself with the UDS in the conferment of the doctorate degree on him.

“The former president truly deserves the award for the contributions he has made towards the development of the country”, the NDC said, adding that in deciding to confer the award on the former president, the UDS had underscored an important principle in the world of academia of giving credit and praise where it is due.

It said it was therefore a matter of concern to the party that attempts were being made in some quarters to disorganise the ceremony for the conferment of the awards under the pretext of security concerns.

The award ceremony scheduled for this weekend has been thrown into doubt following a letter written to the former President that it had been put on ice for security reasons.

The government has denied any knowledge of the decision to freeze the award ceremony, with information Minister, Mr. Dan Botwe indicating yesterday that no government official has come out to make a statement against the ceremony to award the ex-president.

Dan Botwe subsequently challenged the authorities of the UDS to come clean and explain to the public issues surrounding the decision to suspend, cancel or reschedule the award of the honorary doctorate degree to Rawlings.

Meantime, former President Rawlings in an interview with JOY FM yesterday insisted that the government through the Vice President ordered the revocation of the award to him.

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