‘COVID-19 has do with doctors, scientists not fiction writers’ — Presidency replies Soyinka over lockdown comment

The Presidency has tackled Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, over his recent comment challenging the rationality and legality of President Muhammadu Buhari’s lockdown order.

Buhari had in his nationwide address on Sunday ordered a lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja for 14 days to contain spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.

The order had, however, ignited controversies, with many legal pundits wondering if the president has the constitutional powers to announce such directive.

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Joining the fray, Soyinka in a statement questioned the idea behind the lockdown order when Nigeria is not in a “war emergency”.

Reacting to the Nobel Laureate however, Senior Special Assistant to Buhari on Media and Publicity, said Soyinka’s comment was not expected given he is no expert in the medical parlance.

The statement read: “Professor Soyinka is not a medical professor. His qualifications are in English literature, and his prizes are for writing books and plays for theatres.

“Across the world…mandated lockdowns are in place to slow and defeat the spread of coronavirus.

“The Government’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.

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“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.”

The President’s lockdown order was among several other initiatives so far taken by the Nigerian government to combat spread of the novel disease in the country. Other directives had included nationwide closure of schools as well as restriction of large social and religious gatherings.

As at Wednesday, Nigeria had 174 confirmed cases of the killer virus with two deaths recorded according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

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