Soyinka Not qualified To Speak On COVID-19 Lockdown – Presidency

Mr. Shehu said the Nobel Laureate was not a medical doctor or a scientist whose opinion on how to tackle COVID-19 should be taken seriously.

Professor Wole Soyinka
Professor Wole Soyinka

The presidency has urged Nigerians to disregard the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka’s comments on the lockdown of three states

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who made this known in a statement said the lockdown was based on advice of public health professionals who believe it to be effective in curtailing the spread of COVID-19.

Professor Wole Soyinka had challenged the lockdown order, questioning the constitutional correctness of the order.

Responding to Soyinka’s criticism, however, Mr. Shehu said the Nobel Laureate was not a medical doctor or a scientist whose opinion on how to tackle COVID-19 should be taken seriously.

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.”

Shehu said that from 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.

He said Professor Soyinka had also declared, doubtless based on his specialism as a playwright, that: “We are not in a war emergency’’.

However, quoting public health experts from different parts of the world on the need and effectiveness of the lockdown, Shehu said, “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 presidential spokesman said the Nigerian government’s primary duty in law and action was the defence of the people of Nigeria, who face a global pandemic.

Nigeria, he said, was 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, Shehu said, “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 Interview Editors

Written by The Interview Editors

The Interview is a niche publication, targeting leaders and aspiring leaders in business, politics, entertainment, sports, arts, the professions and others within society’s upper middle class and high-end segment in Nigeria.