Professor Wole Soyinka, a Nobel laureate, gives people who have accused him of flaunting fraudulent academic qualifications 30 days to present all of their evidence to the appropriate authorities for review. He said he would forfeit whatever awards or honours he may have received in his professional career if he were proven guilty.
He also stated that the accusers should “undertake to jump off the bridge of the symbolic River Niger” as atonement for their moral transgression if they fail to present evidence within the allotted time period.
In a 1998 publication, one Joseph Dahip cited a 1996 study in which Prof. James Gibbs was described as debunking various statements attributed to Soyinka.
The 1996 article stated, in part: “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.”
According to the report, Gibbs stated that in order to come to the conclusions he did on Soyinka’s academic records, he consulted a number of sources, including current Leeds publications, archival material, Soyinka’s work, and “interviews I had with him.”
But Soyinka said on Friday, ‘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 claimed that the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Pan-African Writers Association, Accra, Nigerian Association of Authors, Nobel Foundation, Stockholm, University of Leeds, the purported Bristol Primary Source and his school, as well as the media, had all received copies of the statement.