Wole Soyinka, playwright and Nobel laureate, has questioned President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to lock down Lagos, Ogun and Abuja amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement on Monday, Soyinka said Nigeria is not in a war, demanding answers on whether Buhari has such powers to declare the curfew.
In his nationwide broadcast on Sunday, the president announced restriction of movement in the two states and the nation’s capital to curb the spread of the virus.
But Soyinka asked federal lawmakers among others to intervene in the situation, saying: “The worst development I can conceive is to have a situation where rational measures for the containment of the corona(virus) pandemic are rejected on account of their questionable genesis. This is a time for Unity of Purpose, not nitpicking dissensions.”
The playwright added: “So, before this becomes a habit, a question: does President Buhari have the powers to close down state borders? We want clear answers. We are not in a war emergency.
“Appropriately focused on measures for the saving lives, and committed to making sacrifices for the preservation of our communities, we should nonetheless remain alert to any encroachment on constitutionally demarcated powers.
“We need to exercise collective vigilance, and not compromise the future by submitting to interventions that are not backed by law and constitution.
“A President who has been conspicuously AWOL, the Rip van Winkle of Nigerian history, is now alleged to have woken up after a prolonged siesta, and begun to issue orders.
“What happens when the orders conflict with state measures, the product of a systematic containment strategy – `including even trial-and-error and hiccups – undertaken without let or leave of the centre?”