My ordeal in France over Nigeria’s COVID-19 permit – Soyinka

Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, on Thursday said he was prevented from boarding at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France, for failing to obtain what the airline staff described as a ‘permit to travel’ to Nigeria.

Soyinka spoke in Lagos on the theme, ‘COVID, technology and citizen banishment,’ during an interaction with journalists.

The essayist said although no attempt was made to banish him, he nevertheless felt like serving a decree of banishment for 48 hours that the event lasted.

Every in-bound traveller is expected to upload their COVID result on a portal created by the Federal Government, with the traveller’s details including passport, ticket numbers. At the end of the exercise, a barcode is generated, indicating a permit to travel.

The playwright who lamented his experience said, “Of course, there is something known as force majeure that means you cannot help it. If there are floods, or there is turbulence and your plane cannot land and it is turned somewhere else, yes we understand that.”

He added that when an individual “is prevented from entering his own country through the lapses of others, then there is problem.”

The elder statesman, who recounted two experiences, stated, “I had my vaccination, I have taken the 72 hours COVID test and I was negative. But apparently, there was one more, a new one called PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), which the Nigerian government had begun to insist upon.

I was away from the country at the time. I didn’t know this. I thought I was all geared up. I couldn’t get on that plane. I had to go back to Paris. I spent three extra days in Paris before I could get back to the airport, after taking the test and getting my result.

Leave a Reply