Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The presidency last night called the bluff of Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, asking Nigerians to ignore his fictional postulations and embrace science.
The presidential attack on Soyinka was provoked by the latter’s criticism of the current lockdown of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun States by President Muhammadu Buhari as a measure to contain further spread of COVID-19.
Soyinka had questioned the rationale behind the lockdown, more so that the country was not in a state of war emergency.
But presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, believed that Soyinka lacked the professional competence to comment on a matter like the handling of the scourge of COVID-19.
According to him, such matter requires scientific interventions and not a mere fiction which he believes the Nobel Laureate is only known for.
Shehu, therefore, counseled Soyinka to consider writing a fiction on the pandemic when it is finally over, but admonished Nigerians to trust scientists and not authors of fiction like the Nobel Laureate.
“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,’’ Shehu said.
Furthermore, Shehu said Soyinka was not a professor of medical sciences and that all he knew was writing literary books and hence, his opinions on the matter lacked scientific backing.
Shehu argued that it was a common belief that an effective way of containing the scourge across the globe was the lockdown as he proceeded to cite opinions of medical scientists to buttress his submission simultaneously countering Soyinka’s view that the situation was not a war emergency.
He said: “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 the limitation of movement of people