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“Perhaps Wole Soyinka may write a play on the coronavirus pandemic” – Presidency reply to Prof. Soyinka, tells Nigerians not to trust a fiction writer

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Nigerian presidency, in a response by the president’s media aide, Garba Shehu, condemned Nigeria’s Professor, Soyinka for criticising the president’s action, saying he has no professional expertise in the matter.

The Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, had criticised President Muhammad Buhari’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying the president had been conspicuously absent as the virus gained a foothold across the country.

“Professor Soyinka is not a medical professor. His qualifications are in English literature, and his prizes are for writing books and plays for theatres,” Garba Shehu said on Wednesday.

“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,” Mr Shehu said.

The presidency said governments across the globe have ratcheted up lockdown measures to flatten the spreading curve of the pandemic, based on medical and scientific evidence.

“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,” Mr Sheu said.

He said Mr Soyinka’s comment that “we are not in a war emergency’’ was superficial to the views of highly-placed scientists.

“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 is almost like the fog of war,” Mr Shehu said.

On the legality of the lockdown, he said the government’s primary duty in law and action is the defence of the people of Nigeria, against the pandemic.

“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,’’ he concluded.

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