Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, on Friday, gave those accusing him of parading fake academic credentials 30 days to submit all their evidence to the relevant agencies for investigation. He noted that if found culpable, he would strip himself of any titles and honours he might have garnered in his career.
He also said that failure by the accusers to provide evidence within the stipulated time would mean they lack honour and should, as a token of moral recompense, “undertake to jump off the bridge of the symbolic River Niger”.
One Joseph Dahip had in a 1998 article referenced a 1996 report in which a scholar, Prof James Gibbs, was quoted as unravelling some claims allegedly made by Soyinka.
The 1996 article partly read, “The claim by Professor Wole Soyinka that he obtained a first-class bachelors degree in English Literature from Leeds University has been challenged. Instead, what the Nobel laureate actually obtained from Leeds was a second-class degree. This startling revelation was made by Professor James Gibbs who has closely monitored the activities of former Leeds students in English literature.”
The report quoted Gibbs as saying that he relied on a variety of sources, including contemporary Leeds publications, archival material, Soyinka’s work and “interviews I had with him” in arriving at the facts he had on Soyinka’s academic records.
But Soyinka in a Friday statement titled, ‘A moral call to amoral conscripts’, said he was awaiting the decision of his lawyers on whether or not to file a legal action.
He stated, “A document of unmatchable scurrility, last encountered during General Sani Abacha’s global campaign of calumny against opponents of his despotic, infernally venal and homicidal reign, is back in circulation. Duly modified to suit a debased internet culture, it is making its grimy rounds ironically under the auspices of a democratic political party, supposedly dedicated to an ethos of freedom of opinion and expression. The contents of that script are attributed, as before, to the scholastic industry of a Bristol schoolteacher.
“While awaiting a decision from my lawyers whether or not to dignify the current sponsors of this mouldy tract with legal action, I wish to state in advance that I voluntarily waive all protection under the statute of limitations, and insist that the laws that govern fraudulent academic claims be invoked and applied to these allegations to the uttermost limit. I also declare, in advance, that if found culpable, I shall strip myself of any titles and honours I may have garnered in my entire career, from the most obscure to the most coveted.
“In return, I expect the purveyors of this sordid material to submit all evidence, however minuscule, to the nation’s investigative agencies – Directorates of Prosecutions, EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission), plus affected institutions and others – within the next 30 days. Failing this elementary service in public interest within the stated time, and/or if such allegations are yet again proven baseless, thus indicating that their sponsors can boast of neither honours to their careers nor honour to their births and origins, then, as a token of moral recompense, they should undertake to jump off the bridge of the symbolic River Niger, provided with life jackets to ensure a life of remorse after this ritual purgation, but chained to one another in a commendable unity of purpose.”
Soyinka said he had copied the statement to the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Pan-African Writers Association, Accra, Nigerian Association of Authors, the Nobel Foundation, Stockholm, the University of Leeds, the alleged Bristol Primary Source and his school, and the media.