• Nobel laureate and Nigerian author, Wole Soyinka has criticized the Nigerian government for sitting back and watching as religious leaders run amok. 
  • The 85-year old poet and playwright who lives in Nigeria which has confirmed 46 cases of the deadly Covid-19, has been in self-isolation for nine days.
  • Despite Sonyika’s sentiments, there are concerns that there is too much indifference towards the deadly virus in Africa's most populous nation which could spell disaster.

Nobel laureate and Nigerian author, Wole Soyinka has added his voice on the coronavirus pandemic currently taking siege of the African continent and across the globe.

The author, who lives in Nigeria which has confirmed 46 cases of the deadly Covid-19, has criticized the Nigerian government for sitting back and watching as religious leaders run amok and be indifferent over the virus.

While the national government has issued directives about social distancing, over the weekend some preachers in the West African country ignored the directive and went ahead with Sunday services, which were attended by thousands of congregants.

“They have been treated with kid gloves for too long… I think there is too much political correctness going on.” Soyinka told the BBC's Charles Mgbolu.

President Muhammadu Buhari at a past event [Twitter/@BashirAhmaad]
President Muhammadu Buhari at a past event [Twitter/@BashirAhmaad]

The 85-year old poet and playwright said the government ought to take on religious institutions who continue to defy the directive.

“What the government should do in such instances is to take note of these contraveners of common sense and ensure that they are punished after this crisis is over or at some point or the other.

We have to take on churches and mosques, religions of any kind including traditional religions that misbehave and let them understand that they are living in very different times than that of their imagination."

Nigeria's capital city, Abuja
Nigeria's capital city, Abuja

Prof Soyinka has been in self-isolation for nine days after returning from the United States.

Despite Sonyika’s sentiments, there are concerns that there is too much indifference towards the deadly virus in Africa's most populous nation which could spell disaster.

If at all there is anything like coronavirus it’s for rich men not for the poor man. So, we are free men and we will continue to live free. That’s their business,” a trader in Lagos told Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris.

Lassa fever
Lassa fever

What’s worse, Africa’s most populous nation with more than 200 million people has only has 5 molecular labs.

Meanwhile, an outbreak of Lassa fever, caused by a more common virus, has been active in Nigeria for the past few months and has even promoted calls for the declaration of a national health emergency.

Between January 1 and March 15, the Nigerian Center for Disease Control reported 161 deaths of Lassa fever patients, with 3,735 suspected cases and 906 confirmed cases, across twenty-seven of Nigeria’s thirty-six states. For the same period in 2019, Lassa killed 114 with 1801 suspected cases and 455 confirmed cases across twenty-one states, but the 906 confirmed cases for 2020 is already greater than the 810 confirmed cases for all of 2019.