Lamido Sanusi and the plagiarism allegations (1)

So the Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank (or “Apex Bank” as Nigerians like to call it) is facing allegations of plagiarism, and a lawsuit. Victor Dike, a Nigerian Professor based in the US is accusing Mr. Lamido Sanusi of lifting passages from articles of his, for a number of speeches Sanusi delivered.

It’s a big shame though that none of the media that carried the story did any investigating of their own. All the news reports on the issue read like they were written by a single source. In a news story about alleged serial plagiarism, no paper published more than one allegedly plagiarised quote.

I’d like to assume that Victor Dike had done his homework properly and compiled a comprehensive list of the passages that were allegedly lifted from his work. If he didn’t take the time to do that, shame on him. But if he took the time to do that, why did the papers not focus on that? How does one write a plagiarism story that doesn’t have at its heart the allegedly plagiarised text?

A serious media organisation would have done a table listing Dike’s and Sanusi’s passages, and then delivered a verdict or allowed its readers to do so.

Now, clearly Sanusi has come across Dike’s work, in one form or the other, because he directly acknowledges Dike somewhere in the Igbinedion paper, as follows: “As Dike (2006) noted, the state of a nation’s educational sector, among other things, determines the economic health of the nation.”

Alas, when one turns to the references at the bottom of the Sanusi paper, there is no “Dike” listed.

Now Dike says that when he wrote to Sanusi to allege plagiarism, the Governor dismissed his complaints by saying he’d acknowledged a certain “Victor E.D.” in the lecture.

And indeed in the Igbinedion lecture references there is a “Victor E.D.” acknowledged. There is no “Victor E.D.” in the body of the article.

Clearly we are seeing some shoddy referencing work there on the CBN Governor’s part (or on the part of his speechwriter), which, tragically, he refuses to take the responsibility for.

Now thanks to Google I have found one Sanusi passage that may or may not have been inspired by a Dike passage (the one quoted in the news stories). I’ll let you make up your mind.

DIKE

“Any person familiar with Nigeria would agree that among the challenges facing the economy is ineffective institutions and dilapidated infrastructure (bad roads, erratic power supply, limited access to potable water and basic healthcare, and ineffective regulatory agencies, etc).”

SANUSI

“The main challenges’ facing the economy is poor economic and social infrastructure: bad roads, erratic power supply, limited access to portable water and basic healthcare, and much more.”

[Find Dike’s paper here, and Sanusi’s here]

So what do you think?

I found that within minutes of consulting Google. Sanusi’s speeches are all available on the Central Bank website, just as Dike’s are all over the internet.

I’m now throwing out a challenge to Professor Dike to make public – on the internet – the ALL passages he claims were plagiarised, as well as the Sanusi versions.

***

SO WHAT IS PLAGIARISM?

Google throws up a million and one definitions, mostly different. Clearly plagiarism can be a complicated – or, as this website describes it, “a multifaceted and ethically complex problem”.

After some searching, I found this piece, from the Harvard University website, very useful. One of the listed types of plagiarism (and there are several) is “Inadequate Paraphrase”, defined as follows:

“When you paraphrase, your task is to distill the source’s ideas in your own words. It’s not enough to change a few words here and there and leave the rest; instead, you must completely restate the ideas in the passage in your own words. If your own language is too close to the original, then you are plagiarizing, even if you do provide a citation.”

Now compare the passages cited above. On the basis of that one example (and while we await others) – is Mr. Sanusi guilty of inadequate paraphrase or not?

TO BE CONTINUED

(You may also join the conversation on Twitter)

6 thoughts on “Lamido Sanusi and the plagiarism allegations (1)

  1. Thanks for highlighting the similarity. Most writers would not have done that. In Part 2, I hope you would discuss the legal definition of plagiarism too.

  2. This is very interesting. The issue of plagiarism is indeed complex and confusing due to its fluidity. The trend in academic now is to discourage direct quotation to avoid turning your paper into “view paper”. Mostly favored and encouraged now is paraphrasing, an art that is felicitous but not many had the patience to master. If Sanusi is eventually found guilty of the charge of plagiarism, it will be more of hasty dismissal of the allegation instead of re scrutiny and reflections.
    Thank you for this service.

  3. Pingback: Joachim MacEbong: On Fareed Zakaria and the wages of lazy journalism | YNaija

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s