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Amaechi, Soyinka and the 82m naira feast

The Rivers State government has alleged that former two-term governor Rotimi Amaechi and current Minister for Transport spent 82m naira ( $411,640) hosting a banquet for Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka in 2014.

Soyinka would later make a “declaration of support” in 2015 for Amaechi’s All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari, after being one of the former general’s strongest critics.

Soyinka wrote in 2007 about: “a far graver, looming danger, personified in the history of General Buhari. The grounds on which General Buhari is being promoted as the alternative choice are not only shaky, but pitifully naive. History matters. Records are not kept simply to assist the weakness of memory, but to operate as guides to the future. Of course, we know that human beings change. What the claims of personality change or transformation impose on us is a rigorous inspection of the evidence, not wishful speculation or behind-the-scenes assurances. Public offence, crimes against a polity, must be answered in the public space, not in caucuses of bargaining. In Buhari, we have been offered no evidence of the sheerest prospect of change. On the contrary, all evidence suggests that this is one individual who remains convinced that this is one ex-ruler that the nation cannot call to order.”

The Rivers State government spokesman said yesterday about Amaechi: “A government that did not pay salaries, closed the courts, but the administration had the courage to expend 82 million naira to fund a dinner for Prof Wole Soyinka.

“These are facts on ground. The Amaechi administration expended the money under the heading of borrowed funds.” Amaechi allegedly left a 600bn naira ($3bn) debt burden when he left office.

President Buhari has claimed that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) “destroyed” Nigeria for 16 years. But Amaechi belonged to the PDP from 1999 before switching to the APC in November 2013 and was one of the main financial backers of Buhari’s campaign – with Rivers State public funds.

Buhari rewarded Amaechi with the transport ministry, while claiming to be “fighting corruption”.

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