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2023 Election: Chimamanda replies APC, disagrees with Soyinka

April 12, 2023

She defended the letter she wrote and spoke of her support for the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi….

Renowned Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Adichie, has replied the All Progressives Congress (APC) which called for her arrest following a letter she wrote to the American President, Joe Biden, alleging that the 2023 election was flawed.

The novelist, in an interview with Arise Television on Tuesday, also criticised Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka over his comments about the Labour Party’s vice presidential candidate, Datti Baba-Ahmed.

Ms Adichie stated that Soyinka’s description of Mr Baba-Ahmed’s comment as fascist was a strong word that is only appropriate for the government of the day and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), gagging the will of the majority of Nigerians through a fraudulent election.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how Dele Alake, the special adviser communications to President-elect, Bola Tinubu, said Ms Adichie may face a lawsuit over an allegation she made against the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu.

Ms Adichie had in an open letter to the US president said “Many believe that the INEC chair has been “compromised”.

In the interview, she defended the letter she wrote and spoke on her support for Mr Obi.

She also accused the American authorities of double standards on democracy on the African Continent.

“I wrote that letter because this is important to preserve the truth when something like this happens in a country it’s important to tell the story of what happened. What happened is it was not an election, it was a really unforgivable flaw and there is evidence for that.

“I wanted to call out to the US for what I consider two faces when it comes to Africa. The US has a long history of complicity in non-democratic elections on this continent. Recently in Congo, they endorse an election that was an absolute sham but the same US will turn around and criticize Congo for not being democratic. My point was to say be what you say you are. You cannot criticise African countries for being non-democratic while at the same time endorsing something that was quite evidently undemocratic.

“The most glaring is that we Nigerians all saw these mutilated elections, we saw polling unit agents talking about how what they had at the polling unit was not what was then announced or uploaded officially. For me, that is a striking reason and example of why this election was not about technical glitching.

“Can we also realise that Nigeria is full of very bright young people in tech? There is no reason for that excuse of a technical glitch.

Why was it possible to other people to upload the results of the other federal elections but not the presidential one? And I think most of us have this resounding unfortunate silence from the chairman of INEC and I think Nigerians deserve respect over an institution that is supposed to shepherd their democracy and nobody is coming out to explain to Nigerians how that happened. There was a statement about technical glitches. It is not convincing and knowing how much hope and trust the Nigerians invested in this election, knowing that Nigeria is a low-trust society means that if the people are truly sincere and have nothing to hide they will make (an) extra effort to explain to Nigerians what happened.

Replies to APC

She said the ruling All Progressives Congress is just trying to derail from what is important to Nigerians by accusing her of not voting in the election.

“I think that it’s not a useful criticism, I should say first of all that I have never been fazed by criticism. I wrote (this letter to the US president) of course, knowing full well that there will be criticism from certain quarters and I’ve seen a few things people sent to me and it has been kind of amusing to read the juvenile fulmination of non-juvenile people.

“I have a home in Lagos and America, and I am very often here (Lagos), I tried very hard to get my PVC and the reason was that I was assured that technology will save us. It works in Osun, Ekiti, and Anambra, I really tried. We should also talk about how difficult is to collect PVC and that in itself is a form of voter disenfranchisement. I’ve done the first and I could not collect my PVC. Yes I did not vote but my not voting does not mean I cannot comment in an election, I am a Nigerian citizen, and every Nigerian has a right to an opinion.

“When people say BVAS worked but IREV did not work which is a way of countering the accusation that technology was manipulated the response is, both have to work for the election to be credible BVAS was about making sure we did not have ghost voters but it defeats the purpose if you then do not upload the results because those results that you have make sure real people voted but then those real results we can’t see them in real-time as professor Mahmoud Yakubu said. Because he said, the public will be able to view the polling unit results as soon as the elections are finalised on Election Day. This is an important thing to talk about and address with the Nigerian people.

“The Electoral Act 2022 gave INEC the legal backing to have electronic transmission of results and did say in a format INEC could decide and we know that format because the chairman of INEC told us what the format would be when he said that the results would be uploaded at the end of voting from the polling units and that was not done.

“It seems to me strange to deflect from that important issue and talk about how someone is not in Nigeria, those are not the points, the points are what happened.

Lawsuit

I am not worried about the lawsuit. Again, I think those are the things that are trying to deflect from what is really important and what is at stake. It could be very useful if people could point out what is untrue in the letter. The rumour surrounding the election is part of the story of the election. If you leave a gap in information, people will try to fill that gap, it’s how human minds work our country is a low-trust society and we are so desperate to believe in something and we believe in this election, it does not work out well and nobody gives us convincing reasons and of course, people are going to rumours about people being compromised and also our political landscape is stiff in people being compromised and I am not worried about that I think that any fair-minded person in this country who is honest will acknowledged that these rumours are circulating and I said very clearly there is no evidence for them and I do say that in the story of this election, many people are starting to think…

On her support for Peter Obi and ethnicity sentiment

“Tribesman is such an outdated and strange expression and I also said something about that whoever is using it. It’s a practice of that psychologists called projecting. You are doing something but you are accusing someone else of doing it even though they are not. I did not support Peter Obi because he is an Igbo as I am. I am a person who does not take a position lightly I very much admired Peter Obi and respect him and there are many other people whom I respect and admired but I will never vote for them to be president because I just don’t think that they will be good President.

“My support for Peter Obi is rooted in real things, my faith in his ability. I got to know him when he came and pay homage to my parents because he heard that my father was the first professor of statistics in Nigeria and my mother had retired as the first female registrar of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

“I was very impressed by that because he shows me how much he valued education and then he became governor of Anambra State, he took Anambra State to number one in education and I remembered being impressed by the story of how he gave his personal phone number to all the senior prefect in secondary schools in Anambra which shows me that he is interested in how ordinary people think. He wants to hear from the student about what is happening.

“And his focus on security, he really tackled kidnapping in Anambra and I also remember that he really clashed with Anambra elites when he was tackling insecurity and kidnapping and that shows me that he is quite decisive even though he has a bit of a stubborn streak he is very focused on things that are really why I supported him.

“The idea of ethnicity again I think is a way of deflecting, let us focus on what really matters. It’s unfortunate that only one part of the political spectrum is politicising ethnicity. I think it’s very unfortunate but I don’t think people in Nigeria really care about ethnicity as much as they care about having a country that works for them, we want good leadership, and we want the hospitals, the schools and roads to be good and that affect everyone, whether Yoruba, Ijaw, and everyone.

Attack on Wole Soyinka

“I admire him, I respect him as a thinker, and a writer, and I think everyone should read ‘The Man Died’ but at the same time, I disagree very strongly with him on this particular issue, I watched his interview twice thinking that I was missing something. Fascism is a really strong word that often made me think of Missolouni’s Italy but we use it now to address this kind of authoritarianism that often populates the right wing like in Hungry and even the former American President and if you look at these situations you can see why they have been tamed fascist. I did not see any reason that Datti Baba-Ahmed’s interview would have been tamed fascism. I think he was making a very strong point about the election.

“He was saying that if our democracy is not rooted in our constitution and you then swear in a person who is being elected unconstitutionally then you infer ending democracy, I think a quite reasonable position.

“The court will interpret the position, I don’t think any reasonable Nigerian who can read and knows what the ‘AND’ means can make their interpretation and argue with it. The fact that the Labour Party is in the court means that they do not believe that this election was constitutional, I don’t see why he will be tamed as a fascist.

“I think a charitable way of reading Professor Soyinka’s comments is that Professor Soyinka himself said he is not giving to restraint in the language in general and that may be where the word fascist came from. However, I have a suggestion for what we could use for fascism, we could use fascism for INEC because as is it right now, many Nigerians feel deeply cheated by INEC and deeply disenfranchised by INEC and there is authoritarianism which is the basis of fascism at the centre of manipulating election because what you do is gagging people and forcefully taken aware their voice that is fascism. Fascism is all of the violence that happened during the election, it’s all about the silence that some people retain about that violence. Fascism is the government that did not come out to address the very tangible and palpable discontent in this country.

“What I mean by using fascism for INEC is that for so many of us including myself this is not in any way a technological glitch. Professor Yakubu had an opportunity to high rising and he wasted it spectacularly because it’s very easy to become the very hero of not just Nigeria but Africa. After all, so many Africa are watching and they are so inspired by what happened before this election – the obedient movement. I also think that President Muhammadu Buhari missed the chance in high rising because Nigerians felt that he mean well and credible election. I don’t think that many Nigerians think that now.

The Supreme Court has just made a ruling that does not make sense to a lot of people. I am optimistic that the supreme court will do the rightful and that people will get justice, she said. (Premium Times).

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