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Presidency raps Soyinka over comment on Buhari’s COVID-19 speech

The Presidency has fired back at Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, over his criticism of government’s lockdown order of Lagos, Ogun and FCT to curb the spread of Coronavirus in the country.

Prof. Soyinka had earlier in the week said that President Muhammadu Buhari had no constitutional backing to declare a 14-day total ban on movement in the three cities.

The President made the declaration, on Sunday, during a nationwide broadcast on the global health crisis and measures his administration was taking to stop the spread in Nigeria.

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Responding to Prof. Soyinka’s comments, on Wednesday, the Presidency, through Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, urged Nigerians to ignore the famous writer because he had no expertise in matters of health and science generally.

In a statement, Garba Shehu said, “The esteemed Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, made comments on the legal status and description of 14-day lockdown announced by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“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.

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“All have been declared and made necessary based on medical and scientific evidence. The guidance of the Nigerian Government’s medical specialists is to advise the same.

“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 limitation of movement of people.

“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.’’