Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a renowned novelist from Nigeria, has criticized US President Joseph Biden over the US State Department’s congratulations to Bola Tinubu, the “president-elect” of Nigeria.
In an open letter to President Biden on Thursday, Adichie claimed that it is crystal clear that Biden is undermining America’s self-declared commitment to democracy by congratulating Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), who was declared the winner of the 2023 presidential election after it was “deliberately manipulated.”
Adichie claimed in the open letter that Tinubu’s declared victory by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was invalid because the election process on February 25 was marred not by technical errors as claimed by the INEC, but rather by deliberate manipulation by the electoral umpire. Adichie claimed that the election was rife with contradictions and irregularities, all of which were ignored by the INEC.
“After the end of military dictatorship in 1999, Nigerians have had little confidence in elections,” Adichie wrote in the letter. Voting in a presidential election meant preparing for its inescapable result: fraud.
Election rigging was inevitable; the only remaining question was how bad. Voting occasionally seemed like a pointless act when preset “winners” were proclaimed.
“Everything was altered by the 2022 Electoral Act, a bill that was introduced last year. It provided legal support for the Independent National Electoral Commission-determined process of electronically certifying voters and electronically transmitting results (INEC).
“Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the chair of the panel, told Nigerians that votes would be counted in front of voters and recorded in a result sheet and that a photo of the signed sheet would immediately be uploaded to a secure server.
“Yakubu vehemently refuted accusations that the commission was breaking its promise. He reaffirmed that the public would be able to access polling-unit results as soon as they are finalized on election day in a speech at Chatham House in London (a favorite influence-burnishing hangout of Nigerian politicians).
“Nigerians cheered him on. The All Progressives Congress (APC), which has been in power since 2015, would not have a chance to tamper with the results if they were uploaded immediately after voting. Nigeria’s democracy would be saved by technology. More votes than voters would no longer be present in the results.
“The selection of Nigerian leaders will no longer be done for them. Elections would finally allow the people’s actual voices to be heard. Hope and faith were thus born.
“That trust was gone by the evening of February 25, 2023. Election officials had either arrived many hours late or without the bare necessities.
According to accounts, there was rioting, a shooting at a polling place, and political operatives stealing or damaging ballot boxes. Several law enforcement officials appeared to have collaborated in voter intimidation; in Lagos, a policeman watched as an APC spokesperson threatened people from a certain ethnic group who he thought may vote against the party.
She claims that despite guaranteeing a fair and honest election, INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu swiftly declared Tinubu the election’s victor without looking into accusations of irregularities that were reportedly observed around the nation.
Adichie observed that because no legal action had been taken in response to issues of obvious manipulations that had been exposed, the elections were not only rigged but also insulted the intelligence of Nigerians.
“Most flagrant of all, the electoral commission broke its promise to Nigerians,” she stated. There was no real-time upload of the presidential results.
People reacted, understandably wary; footage from polling places show voters yelling for the results to be posted immediately. Numerous people photographed the result sheets on their smartphones. Oddly enough, a large number of polling places were able to upload the results of the House and Senate elections but not the presidential ones.
“No one was shocked when proof of irregularities inundated social media by the morning of the 26th. The public could now examine result sheets that were being slowly published on the INEC platform. Voters checked the images from their phones with the ones that had been uploaded and discovered changes: numbers had been crossed out and rewritten; some had been originally written in black ink but had been changed to blue; others had been accidentally whitened out with Tipp-Ex. In addition to being rigged, the election was conducted in such a sloppy, careless manner that it insulted Nigerians’ intelligence.
Representatives from many political parties protested as the INEC started counting the votes, with the exception of the APC. They said that the results being counted did not correspond to what they had recorded at the voting locations. Too many differences existed.
“It was absolutely puzzling that the electoral commission would disregard so many obvious warning signs in its haste to declare a winner in the setting of a closely contested election in a low-trust society. As it would do in the governorship elections two weeks later, it had the authority to suspend the vote count and examine irregularities.
The US State Department’s congratulations to Tinubu, according to Adichie, were shocking. She continued by calling the election a “competitive election” that “represents a new time for Nigerian politics and democracy.”
“American intelligence cannot possibly be that inadequate. If they had done their research, they would have known what is evident to me and so many others: The process was in danger due to human error rather than technical issues.
Adichie stated, “I hope, President Biden, that you do not personally share this courteous condescension. I want President Biden to uphold his stand on the need for a true democracy, adding that celebrating Tinubu will be endorsing the illegal process that produced him as president. You’ve talked about the need to stand up for “justice and the rule of law” and the significance of a “global community for democracy.” A worldwide democratic movement cannot succeed if its most influential member is indifferent.
“Why would the United States, which places a high value on the rule of law, support a president-elect who was chosen through an illegitimate process?
The U.S. response cannot—must not—be business as usual because this Nigerian election was meant to be different.
President Biden undermines America’s self-declared devotion to democracy by praising the election’s outcome. Please refrain from giving an illegal process the appearance of legitimacy. The United States ought to live up to its promises.