Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has dared anti-corruption agencies in the country to probe him over an allegation by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, that N82m was spent to host him by former governor Rotimi Amaechi.
Soyinka’s reaction came on the heels of an allegation by the Rivers State Government, which said on Wednesday that it would demand a refund of an alleged N82m, purportedly expended on the 80th birthday dinner in honour of the Nobel laureate by Amaechi, last year.
The government, which spoke through the Commissioner for Information, Austin Tam-George, said it would take time for the legal process to be completed since “they were financial crimes.”
In a statement titled, “Those who flounder in the sewage of corruption,” the Nobel laureate on Thursday described the allegation as a distraction and a sign of insecurity on the part of Wike.
Tam-George had said, “I will seek the permission of the governor to formally write Professor Wole Soyinka, a known supporter of Amaechi, if he received part of the N82m spent on a three-hour dinner hosted in his honour by the Amaechi administration.
“If he agrees that he received such funds, then he will be compelled to refund same to the coffers of Rivers State. Presently, we have presented these details to the police for investigation and prosecution.”
But Soyinka said, “I have learnt of some unsavoury statements by the insecure incumbent of the Rivers State Government Lodge. These included a loose invitation to anti-crime agencies to investigate the potential crime of being honoured through any occasion.
“The descent to this present level of abominable distractions makes one truly despair. It is one that even I did not envisage when I warned – ‘Corruption strikes back!’ Whether it brings honour or dishonour to the nation is another matter – I am saddened, but indifferent. EFCC and company – over to you! You all know where I live.
“The unprecedented call by this governor is prescient of a warning I recounted in my recent pamphlet publication, ‘The republic of liars’, and was taken from my address to an anti-corruption global conference that took place in Tunisia two years ago.
“Those words were, ‘Corruption strikes back’. In this ongoing instance, that expression translates most vividly as those who are neck deep in the sewage of corruption ensure that they splatter sewage in all possible and improbable directions.”
Describing Wike as “Wikeleaks”, Soyinka, who threw his weight behind the governor’s call for a probe into the money for the dinner in his honour, however, added that he was sad about the descent of the Rivers helmsman into an ‘abominable’ level of distraction.
He said, “I do however fully support the ‘Wikeleaks’ call for multi-directional probes. I recommend further that he involves the services of the INTERPOL to guarantee its extension to all international organisations and governments to whom I owe uncountable events of recognition – including birthday luncheons, dinners, cultural receptions and events of real, fictitious, or simply opportunistic flavouring – to which I have submitted myself.”
Reacting, Amaechi dared Wike to go to court instead of peddling lies against him and Soyinka.
Amaechi, who is now the Minister of Transportation, spoke through his media office, on Wednesday.
He said it was unfortunate that Wike could peddle lies against him and the Nobel Laureate in order to “criminalise legitimate government transactions.”
The statement by Amaechi’s media office said, “Since Wike is blind to his responsibilities as the Governor of Rivers State and has insisted on attacking the person and clean reputation of Amaechi as his one and only project, then let him go to court to prove his allegations and stop the nefarious insinuations.”