Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has described the total lockdown orders issued by President Buhari in Lagos and Ogun States over coronavirus as illegal and unconstitutional.
Soyinka who insisted that President Buhari does not have the power to unilaterally lockdown a state as there is no war or emergency, wondered why a President president who had been conspicuously AWOL woke after a prolonged siesta to issue orders.
The Nobel Laureate also described President Buhari as the Rip van Winkle of Nigerian history (a person who is oblivious to changes especially in social attitudes or thought) in his statement ‘Between Covid and Constitutional Encroachment.’
His statement reads;
“Constitutional lawyers and our elected representatives should kindly step into this and educate us, mere lay minds,” Mr Soyinka, a professor of comparative literature, began in the statement.
“The worst development I can conceive is to have a situation where rational measures for the containment of the Corona pandemic are rejected on account of their questionable genesis. This is a time for unity of purpose, not nitpicking dissensions.
“So, before this becomes a habit, a question: does President Buhari have the powers to close down state borders? We want clear answers.
“Appropriately focussed 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. Who actually instigates these orders anyway? From where do they really emerge?
“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.
“So far, the anti-COVID-19 measures have proceeded along the rails of decentralised thinking, multilateral collaboration and technical exchanges between states.
“The Centre is obviously part of the entire process, and one expects this to be the norm, even without the epidemic’s frontal assault on the Presidency itself. Indeed, the Centre is expected to drive the overall effort, but in collaboration, with extraordinary budgeting and refurbishing of facilities.
“The universal imperative and urgency of this affliction should not become an opportunistic launch pad for a sneak RE-CENTRALISATION, no matter how seemingly insignificant its appearance. I urge governors and legislators to be especially watchful. No epidemic is ever cured with constitutional piracy. It only lays down new political viruses for the future.”