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General News of Monday, 26 November 2012

Source: Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK

Akufo-Addo’s Oxford University Mystery Unmasked

Following the reopening of the thousand and one question surrounding whether Nana Akufo Addo attended Oxford University or not after my revelation in my article on the same subject (see “Why Akufo Addo Omitted Oxford University from his Profile?”, Ghanaweb November 13, 2012), and response from NPP General Secretary (see Akufo-Addo will not dignify RAP with a response-Sir John, Ghanaweb November 21, 2012), I have decided to make public my correspondence with Oxford University on the subject in an attempt to end the uncertainty.

I therefore reproduced some of my letters to Oxford University under the Freedom of Information requests and their responses for the reading public. With the exception of my personal information that have been deleted, the correspondence are unedited. For your information, apart from Oxford confirming that Nana Akufo Addo was a student in 1962/63 academic year, the university refused to answer any other questions until they were ordered by the Office of Information Commissioners to fully answer my questions because they were of public interest as the reasons I offered for the request met the public interest test.

I am making them public because I still think it is a trust issue and again Nana Akufo Addo and NPP have handled a minor and irrelevant issue very badly. Instead of killing the story by coming out to confirm it they have fueled it by a sea of silence hoping against hope that the story will go away. I also think that some of the contents will end the speculation that Nana Akufo Addo was dismissed from Oxford.

Below is the correspondence between oxford University and myself:

3rd January 2012

University of Oxford
University Offices
Wellington Square
Oxford
OX1 2JD

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Freedom of Information Request - Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

I am a British citizen of Ghanaian origin and occasionally post articles on socio-economic and political issues on Ghanaian media websites such as Ghanaweb, Peacefmonline and Joyonline. My articles serve as a contribution to deepening democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Ghana.

As you may be aware, Ghana would hold Presidential Elections in December 2012 and would be devoting some of my articles on the Presidential Elections and contribute to assisting the electorate to make the right choice. The contest is a repeat of the 2008 elections which was between then candidates Prof Evans Atta-Mills (now President) and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (hereinafter referred to as Nana Akufo-Addo).

It has been rumoured in Ghana that, the presidential candidate of the main opposition party, Nana Akufo-Addo attended Oxford University. I suspect those who linked him to the University were trying to raise his profile, especially and bearing in mind that both the late Dr K A Busia (former Prime Minister of Ghana) and former President John Kufuor were students of Oxford. However, opponents of Nana Akufo-Addo claimed that, he was dismissed from Oxford for poor academic performance or bad behaviour or both.

Though Nana Akufo-Addo himself or his campaign team has not denied or confirmed the rumour, it comes up from time to time within the political discourse in Ghana. To put an end to this rumour, I am by this letter requesting the University to confirm in writing to me at the above address the following (under the Freedom of Information Act 2000):

  1. Was Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo a student of Oxford University?
  2. If, yes, what year/s, which course/s did he follow and at which College?
  3. Was he expelled from the University and if so, for what reason/s?

To assist with my request, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was born on 29 March 1944 and attended Lancing College in Sussex and graduated from University of Ghana with BSc Economics in 1967. He trained as a lawyer in England and was called to England Bar (Middle Temple) in 1967. I have no date/s of his alleged studies at Oxford but it must have been between 1960 and 1970.

I intend to put in the public domain the information you provide in response to my request. Though the information I have provided about Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo is very scanty, I am sure with current Information Technology, it should be relatively easier for the University to conduct a search on its archives to provide me with the information I have requested. I believe my request meets the public interest criteria since Nana Akufo-Addo is a potential future President, should he win the December 2012 Presidential Elections in Ghana.

I count on your usual co-operation regarding my request and hope to receive your response within the required deadline.

Yours faithfully,

Click here to read reply from Oxford dated 27 January 2012

My second letter to Oxford in response to their reply of 27 January 2012

27 January 2012

The Registrar
University of Oxford
University Offices
Wellington Square
Oxford
OX1 2JD

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Freedom of Information Request – Mr William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

I refer to my letter of 3rd January 2012 to the University regarding the above subject matter and thank you for the kind response to me dated 27 January 2012 (Ref. FOI/2012/Jan).

Unfortunately, I am not satisfied with the University declining to respond fully to my request, particularly, to questions (b) and (c) contained in my aforementioned letter.

The personality in question is a public figure with a lot of confidential and private information about him already in the public domain. He served as Ghana’s Attorney General and Minister for Justice and Minister for Foreign Affairs under Ex-President Kufuor’s government. He contested the 2008 Presidential Elections and has been re-elected as the Presidential candidate of the main opposition party in Ghana for the December 2012 Presidential Elections. It is therefore important for the Ghanaian electorate to know the candidate who is vying for the highest office in the land. Again, United Kingdom makes a lot of financial and material contributions to support Ghana. The UK government also promotes good governance, accountability and transparency in Ghana.

Ghana is a growing democracy aspiring to be a true democratic society as in the UK. Such information about any political leader in the UK will be easily provided if requested. Since Ghana is aspiring to deepening her fragile democracy, I see no reason why their leaders should be treated different from those in the UK, especially, when UK government is actively promoting such culture in Ghana and Africa in general. It is also my view that it would be of public interest for UK tax payers to know the past  of the potential future leader of a country that some of their taxes go to support their annual budgets. Finally, I am convinced that the information I requested would not violate his rights or breach the Freedom of Information Act 2000, if provided.

For the above reasons and those outlined in my original request and as advised in your letter to me, I am asking the University to review the decision to decline a full response to my request and respond fully as early as practicable to avoid an appeal to the Information Commissioner.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Yours faithfully,

Click here to read reply from Oxford dated 27 February 2012

My third letter to Oxford is as follows:

13 April 2012

The Registrar
University of Oxford
University Offices
Wellington Square
Oxford
OX1 2JD

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Freedom of Information Request – Mr William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the University for the responses to my previous requests regarding the above, including my appeal to the Information Commissioner.

My original request was motivated by a news report I read from the MultiTv website (a copy of which I attached for your information). My objectives were to confirm whether Nana Akufo-Addo did or did not attend Oxford University and if so, why did he leave to continue his education at University of Ghana. This was of interest to me and many Ghanaians because no Ghanaian would leave Oxford to continue his/her university education at University of Ghana unless there is a very good reason such as financial difficulties. However, Nana Akufo-Addo came from a wealthy family and therefore finance could not have been the reason. It is also interesting that Nana Akufo Addo after one year at Oxford did the full three years at University of Ghana for an Economic degree.

Having established that Nana Akufo-Addo was a student at Oxford, I am now left with no answer to my second objective, though you have confirmed to me that he was not expelled from the university. However, now that the university has disclosed to me that he offered Philosophy, Politics and Economics, which I believe was a three-year programme, I will be most grateful if the university will disclose the following information to me.

  1. Did Nana Akufo-Addo complete the 1962/63 academic year at Oxford?
  2. Did Nana Akufo-Addo pass all his first year examinations in Philosophy, Politics and Economics?

 

I apologise for having to submit another request. This is purely because I do not want to speculate as I want to share my findings with the Ghanaian public through my articles on Ghanaweb. I hope the university will not consider this request as nuisance on my part. I promise not to send any further request. I also hope that the request would be fully complied with to avoid the need for an appeal to the Information Commissioner.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Yours faithfully,

Final reply from Oxford University after I took the matter to Office of Information Commissioners who ruled in my favour is as follows:

Click here to read final reply from Oxford



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