Chimamanda criticizes US govt for congratulating Tinubu says Nigeria’s presidential poll ‘deliberately manipulated”

Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Adichie, on Thursday, slammed the government of the United States of America for congratulating Nigeria’s President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Adichie, in a letter addressed to the US President, Joe Biden, expressed her dissatisfaction over the February 25 presidential election in Nigeria, describing it as not only marred by technical faults but deliberately manipulated.

According to her, Nigerians have little confidence in the electoral process since the country’s return to democratic rule, “To vote in a presidential election was to brace yourself for the inevitable aftermath: fraud.

“Elections would be rigged because elections were always rigged; the question was how badly. Sometimes voting felt like an inconsequential gesture as predetermined “winners” were announced,” Adichie’s letter titled Nigeria’s Hallow Democracy reads in part.

“I supported Peter Obi, the Labour Party candidate, and hoped he would win, as polls predicted, but I was prepared to accept any result, because we had been assured that technology would guard the sanctity of votes

The novelist recalled the passage of the Electoral Act 2022, which according to her, changed everything by giving legal backing to electronic accreditation and transmission of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“The chair of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, assured Nigerians that votes would be counted in the presence of voters and recorded in a result sheet and that a photo of the signed sheet would immediately be uploaded to a secure server. When rumours circulated about the commission not keeping its word, Yakubu firmly rebutted them. In a speech at Chatham House in London (a favourite influence-burnishing haunt of Nigerian politicians), he reiterated that the public would be able to view “polling-unit results as soon as they are finalized on election day.”

She also posited that hope was born because if electronic transmission of results was allowed to function as promised, the ruling APC would have no room for manipulation, adding that Nigerians would no longer have their leaders chosen for them.

“By the evening of February 25, 2023, that trust had dissipated. Election workers had arrived hours late, or without basic election materials. There were reports of violence, of a shooting at a polling unit, and of political operatives stealing or destroying ballot boxes. Some law-enforcement officers seemed to have colluded in voter intimidation; in Lagos, a policeman stood idly by as an APC spokesperson threatened members of a particular ethnic group who he believed would vote for the opposition.

“Most egregious of all, the electoral commission reneged on its assurance to Nigerians. The presidential results were not uploaded in real time,” the letter added.

She went further, stating that a series of observations of irregularities were raised to the Chairman of INEC by representatives of political parties, “But the INEC chair, opaque-faced and lordly, refused. The counting continued swiftly until, at 4:10 a.m. on March 1, the ruling party’s candidate, Bola Tinubu, was announced as president-elect.”

“How surprising then to see the U.S. State Department congratulate Tinubu on March 1. “We understand that many Nigerians and some of the parties have expressed frustration about the manner in which the process was conducted and the shortcomings of technical elements that were used for the first time in a presidential election cycle,” the spokesperson said. And yet the process was described as a “competitive election” that “represents a new period for Nigerian politics and democracy.”

“American intelligence surely cannot be so inept. A little homework and they would know what is manifestly obvious to me and so many others: The process was imperiled not by technical shortcomings but by deliberate manipulation,” she quipped.

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