Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has described the recent allegation by the Rivers state government that N82 million was spent on his birthday dinner as a case of corruption fighting back.
The Rivers state Commissioner for Information, Austin Tam-George had on Wednesday accused former governor, Rotimi Amaechi of spending the huge sum on a birthday dinner for Prof Soyinka.
“This morning, I saw only the headlines in one or two print media regarding the 80th Birthday dinner to which I was hosted by the former governor of Rivers State, the Honorable Rotimi Amaechi, now Minister of Aviation.
“I ignored them. It was not, and remains not my business to probe into the catering and logistical implications of the hundreds of institutions and governments all over the world to whom I acknowledge an immense debt of unsolicited recognition over the years.
“Since then however, I have learnt of some unsavory 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,” he said.
The Commissioner had said the government would begin a probe to the spent funds and would demand a refund if it found Prof Soyinka received part of the funds.
”If he agrees that he received such funds, then he will be compelled to refund same to the coffers of Rivers State,” Mr. Tam-George said during a radio programme in Port Harcourt.
At present, we have presented these details to the police for investigation and prosecution. We shall also take up this matter as a financial crime against the people of Rivers State.”
Mr. Soyinka said the Rivers government’s claims was warning he recounted in his recent publication, The Republic of Liars.
“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.
“I do however fully support the Wikeleaks call for multi-directional probes. I recommend further that he involve the services of 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 flavoring – to which I have submitted myself.
“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 literary icon said.