Covid-19: Presidency Berates Soyinka, Says His qualifications are in fiction writing


By Hamilton Nwosa (Head, The New Diplomat’s Business and data tracking desk)

The Presidency has come hard on Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, saying he is neither a specialist in Science  nor a medical professor as his qualifications are in English Literature, and writing books and plays for the theatre industry.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu  who issued the  rebuke on behalf of the presidency said Soyinka lacks the qualifications and eligibility to comment on  President Muhmmmadu Buhari’s 14-day lockdown order in Lagos, Abuja, and Ogun State. According to Garba Shehu, “the people of Nigeria trust the words of our doctors and scientists – and not fiction writers – at this time of national crisis.’’

The Nobel Laureate and accomplished scholar had strongly criticized  and questioned the legality of the 14-lockdown order by  President Buhari via a national broadcast. According to the eminent statesman and celebrated author, Nigeria is not at war to warrant a total lockdown.

But Malam Garba  Shehu while responding to Soyinka censured the celebrated international figure and iconic writer not to  engage in semantics in times when Science is needed and the government need to protect lives of Nigerians. He said: “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.”

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Part of Shehu’s full statement reads thus: “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…

 “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 lock down, 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.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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Hamilton Nwosa is an experienced, and committed communication, business, administrative, data and research specialist . His deep knowledge of the intersection between communication, business, data, and journalism are quite profound. His passion for professional excellence remains the guiding principle of his work, and in the course of his career spanning sectors such as administration, tourism, business management, communication and journalism, Hamilton has won key awards. He is a delightful writer, researcher and data analyst. He loves team-work, problem-solving, organizational management, communication strategy, and enjoys travelling. He can be reached at:


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