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Soyinka’s knowledge on science shallow- Presidency

By Monsuru Olowoopejo

Nigeria’s presidency has taken a swipe at Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, reminding him that the rampaging coronavirus is a scientific matter, not fiction, the field where he had become renounced globally.

The reaction came barely two days after Soyinka condemned President Muhammadu Buhari’s action for locking down Lagos, Ogun and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, describing his strategy as one that was only appropriate during a wartime emergency.

Before this reaction, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, had responded to his fellow Don, stressing that the action of the President was covered by the 1926 Quarantine Act, a colonial law in the country.

Apparently not satisfied with the reaction of Osinbajo, the Presidency, in a statement on Wednesday, signed by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stated that coronavirus is a health issue and was at variance with Soyinka’s field of study.

“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 defense 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.’’

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