By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
Ten days have passed since this newspaper last spoke to People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Presidential Candidate, Irfaan Ali. This was when he promised to return a call within 30 minutes to an hour. He never did.
Ali was contacted to speak about the authenticity of his academic qualifications given the great deal of concern and speculation in the public domain.
Last Thursday—four days after Ali was last contacted—PPP General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo said that Ali would not be offering further comments on the issue until he is in possession of transcripts from the relevant foreign learning institutions.
Anti-corruption and transparency advocate, Christopher Ram was recently asked his opinion on the matter, especially in consideration of the position taken by Jagdeo.
While Ram did not offer specific comments on the connotations of Jagdeo’s statement, he said that it would be in the interest of all Guyanese for Ali to swiftly resolve the issue, lest Guyana’s attention be taken away from matters of more national importance.
The lawyer said, “I do not see why there is any controversy over this. It is either he is or he is not (qualified). If he is, he should produce it (authentic certificates and transcripts) for the media. After all, he is a public figure, a presidential candidate, and I think he owes it to the public to put this issue to rest.”
Ram is one who has been quite vocal about the constitutional crisis in which Guyana finds itself. This is with regard to matters surrounding the December 21 passage of the no-confidence motion.
Speaking to Kaieteur News, Ram said, “We have far bigger issues now, and it would be unfortunate if this situation persists and we waste time on this, as opposed to a critical issue facing us with the constitutional crisis, which is staring us in the face.”
It has been well over a month since Ali’s qualifications were deemed questionable. Yet, he has been unable to name the university where he did his first degree qualifying him for a spot at an Indian University at which he pursued his Master’s Degree.
After questions were raised about Ali’s qualifications, he released a number of certificates.
One of these certificates—purportedly from the University of Sunderland—indicated that Ali attained a Bachelor’s degree in 2006 – three years after he got his Master’s from the Indian University.
Ali has been avoiding answering questions about his qualifications. He keeps saying that he is awaiting transcripts from the universities he attended.
But according to the University of Sunderland, this issue could have been resolved a long time ago. The university says that it is committed to serving former students with transcripts.
This is what is stated on Sunderland’s website, “From time to time you may need to provide confirmation of your degree. We offer a free service to confirm your qualification and give you a transcript to qualify your degree.
Please allow time for our Student Records Office to source this information. For alumni who graduated when Sunderland was a polytechnic, these records are maintained in off-site storage and will take up to three weeks to process.”
While the public is awaiting Ali’s transcripts, so is the PPP. This newspaper was told that over a month ago, Ali told PPP Central Committee that he is most certainly legitimately qualified. He promised to return with his transcript. He never did.
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