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On COVID-19, listen to scientists, not ‘fiction writers’ like Soyinka, Presidency tells Nigerians

Soyinka ranks Buhari govt high in area of disregard for judiciary and disdain for laws

The Presidency on Wednesday implored Nigerians to trust information coming from scientists and medical specialists on issues concerning viral diseases, instead of listening to Professors of Literary writings.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stated this while reacting to comments made by Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on the legal basis of a 14-day movement restriction ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday.

The presidential aide, in a statement, advised Soyinka to write a play on the coronavirus pandemic, after this emergency is over, rather than attacking measures put in place to tackle the spread of the deadly disease.

He said: “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.

“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.

“Prof. 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.

“Prof. 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.’

“Prof. 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.

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”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.”

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