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80th Birthday Dinner: Soyinka replies Rivers govt

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has described as ‘abominable distractions,’ statement by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Dr Austin Tam-George, that the state would demand refund from him (Soyinka) if he collected cash from the  N82 million allegedly spent by immediate-past Governor, Rotimi Amaechi on a dinner to honour him.

Soyinka, who reacted in a statement on Wednesday night, said it has never been his business to probe into the “catering and logistical implications” of the hundreds of recognitions he had enjoyed worldwide and wondered why the Ameachi gesture has become an issue under the ‘insecure’ incumbent of the Rivers State government lodge.

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Although he said the allegation has made him saddened and ‘truly despair”, he added that he was indifferent  to it.

Soyinka in the statement entitled, “Those who flounder in the sewage of corruption,” said: “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 Transportation. 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. 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.”

“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,” noted The Nobel laureate.


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