The Presidency reacted to the comments made by Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, faulting the lock-down order of President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday on Lagos, Ogun and Abuja, as part of its measure to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
Soyinka had stated that Nigeria was not in a war emergency. While acknowledging the decision was on saving lives, he said the people should nonetheless remain alert to any encroachment on constitutionally demarcated powers and called on legal practitioners to educate Nigerians on the restriction order.
In a statement on Wednesday issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in Abuja, the Presidency replied the Nobel Laureate that ‘his qualifications are in English literature, and his prizes are for writing books and plays for theatres. Soyinka is entitled to his opinion but they are semantics and not science, he added.
Shehu therefore advised Soyinka to write a play on the coronavirus pandemic, after the emergency is over. ‘In the meantime, we ask the people of Nigeria to trust the words of our doctors and scientists – and not fiction writers,’ he concluded.
The statement partly reads: “Yesterday, the esteemed Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka made comments on the legal status and description of 14-day lock-down announced by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Professor Soyinka is not a medical professor. His qualifications are in English literature, and his prizes are for writing books and plays for theatres.
“He is of course entitled to his opinions – but that is exactly all they are: semantics, not science. They cannot – and should not – therefore be judged as professional expertise in this matter in any shape or form.
“Across the world – from parts of the United States and China, to countries including the United Kingdom and France, government – mandated lock-downs are in place to slow and defeat the spread of coronavirus.
“As for the legality of the lock-down, the Government of Nigeria’s primary duty in law and action is the defence of the people of Nigeria. We face a global pandemic. Nigeria is now affected.
“The scientific and medical guidance the world over is clear: the way to defeat the virus is to halt its spread through limitation of movement of people.
“Perhaps Wole Soyinka may write a play on the coronavirus pandemic, after this emergency is over. In the meantime, we ask the people of Nigeria to trust the words of our doctors and scientists – and not fiction writers – at this time of national crisis.’’
According to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control NCDC, as at 08:00 pm 1st April there are 174 confirmed cases of #COVID19 reported in Nigeria. Nine have been discharged with two deaths.
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