Social media is abuzz with the story that broke last week that former Rivers State governor and current minister of transport, the Honourable Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s government spent a staggering 82 million naira to host Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka to a single three-hour dinner ‘at a period he refused to pay salaries.’
The learned professor has since responded, describing as ‘abominable distractions,’ the statement by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Dr Austin Tam-George, who broke the news at a press conference, 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 in the statement entitled, “Those who flounder in the sewage of corruption,” said in his characteristically figurative manner that, “Those who are neck deep in the sewage of corruption ensure that they splatter sewage in all possible and improbable directions.”
Amaechi too has denied spending that much on the dinner.
The transport minister also conveyed a message through his media office to incumbent governor, Nyesom Wike to “stop this silly distraction,” stressing that “Rivers people are not interested in his lies and witch-hunt.”
Amaechi further warned Mr. Wike “and the coterie of court-jesters and attention-seekers” in his administration to desist from peddling falsehood.
The former permanent secretary who was said to have submitted the figure in a handover note has apparently not debunked the claim.
The facts as they stand are:
- The multi-million-naira dinner took place
- Professor Soyinka attended and possibly enjoyed the dinner
- The Nobel laureate says ‘it has never been his business to probe into the “catering and logistical implications” of the hundreds of recognitions he had enjoyed worldwide and wonders why the Ameachi gesture has become an issue
- Amaechi has not denied that the dinner took place but denies that 82 million naira was spent without stating however HOW MUCH was actually spent
- The ‘allegators’ claimed that the figures were contained in the handover note prepared by the former Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Information and Communication under the Amaechi administration
- Did George display a copy of the handover note showing the figure?
- The former permanent secretary has apparently not debunked the claim
- If he has not, why not? If he has, what is his response?
Apparently there are more questions than answers. Is this desirable in an anti-corruption dispensation?
What’s your take?