The Nigerian Presidency has dismissed Nobel laureate in Literature, Professor Wole Soyinka’s opposition to government shut down of some cities over Covid-19 as incompetent advice coming from a fiction writer, not a medical expert on the viral disease.
In a statement issued Wednesday night by senior presidential media assistant, Garba Shehu, the presidency urged Nigerians to ignore the renowned author as he was speaking on an area outside his competence.
Shehu contrasted Soyinka’s statements with those of medical experts on the disease, and concluded that measures taken by President Buhari to curtail the spread of the disease in Nigeria were world standard and cannot be compares to the thinking of a fiction writer.
Shehu’s statement reads: “Yesterday, the esteemed Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka made comments on the legal status and description of 14-day lockdown 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 lockdowns are in place to slow and defeat the spread of coronavirus. All have been declared, and all have been made necessary, based on medical and scientific evidence. The guidance of the Nigerian Government’s medical specialists is to advise the same.
“Professor Soyinka has also declared, doubtless based on his specialism as a playwright, that: “We are not in a war emergency’’.
Eminent scientists say otherwise:
“Dr Richard Hatchett, Head of the International Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (and former Director of the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority) has said, ‘War is an appropriate analogy’.
“Professor Anthony Fauci, Director of the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force has said of the battle against the pandemic: ‘It’s almost like the fog of war’.
“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.’’