The presidency recently ordered a 14-day lockdown, in some states of the federation, in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus. It was to this news that the Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, made a comment to the end that the lockdown wasn’t necessary, and one of the reasons he gave was that the nation was not in a war emergency. He also challenged the legality of the lockdown.

It was in response to this that the presidency, via the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity (Mallam Garba Shehu), made quite a long statement. The 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 lockdown, 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.”

Quite a long response i would say; if the presidency gives these kind of responses to national issues, we may not be where we are now.


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