• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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BusinessDay

2023 presidential elections and Adichie’s so wrong a letter

The treachery of Mahmud Yakubu must never be forgotten or forgiven

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie can write for Africa, nay, the world, as we say in these parts, I give her that. Unfortunately, like Soyinka, her books have always proved to be somewhat ponderous fare to me. That is me though, I am unabashedly hedonistic when it comes to literature – reading only for pleasure and nothing else when I can help it, which is the vaster majority of the time.

When I have to read for academic purposes, then of course, I put my hand to the plough and refuse to look back until that A grade is accomplished or as near to it as I can muster. So, with apologies to the multitudes who find Adichie’s work compelling, I mark myself as safe from spontaneous enjoyment when I had to pore through Half Of A Yellow Sun. Americanah and the rest of Adichie’s work I have not read, yet.

This her letter, though, is another thing altogether. It is naught but fraught with risks even though, generally speaking, it does tickle the literary connoisseur’s palate with it grand cadences. Yes, it is brilliantly scripted, but hasty generalizations and several key conclusions which sit askew for being non sequitur with their own premises make this correspondence to President Biden decidedly dodgy.

In addition to hasty generalizations, Adichie engages in sundry other logical fallacies in this letter, either because she chose to ignore facts which have emerged or because, as I suspect, she wrote this letter much earlier and is only just making it public now – it does read that way in many parts.

Contrary to what Adichie wrote, the electronic upload of results was not jettisoned. As of today, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has long uploaded all the results of the Presidential Elections. While we agree that all parties engaged in electoral malpractices, we also agree that the Bimodial Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) made it easier to track and checkmate much of that than in any previous election.

In summary, riggers of all parties discovered that BVAS would not let them accredit more than the registered numbers of voters in any constituency in order to offset perceived weaknesses or actual losses in others. Where they tried anyway, they have since been found out – and I have no doubt the courts will do a lot of discarding and cancelations.

BVAS aside, the greatest safeguards in these election turned out to be the Nigerian voters themselves. Barring violence, everyone at every polling unit, or at least enough intrepid souls, insisted on waiting for the final counts. They watched like hawks as the results sheets were filled out by hand by INEC officials and they made sure that accurate results sheets were uploaded to the BVAS in their presence. They also photographed them before departing the polling unit, their policing effectively done.

Since collation of the presidential results ended and uploads to INEC servers began weeks back I have waited with bated breath for the deluge of INEC-manipulated result sheets to drown the earth. If it is to happen it is yet to begin. Sure, we have seen some, but after the first few days new ones stopped appearing. The same ones continue to make the rounds on Nigerian internet toll today.

Meanwhile, INEC continues to take out paid advertisements across all media platforms urging citizens to go online and cross-match the images of the result sheets in their possession with what the Commission has uploaded at https://www.inecelectionresults.ng/elections/types. The challenge still is on ma’am!

Again, all legal teams have had access to INEC materials for weeks now and have built and filed their cases. In fact, the legal teams, of the LP and PDP mainly, have tried to crowd-source evidence of irregularities, and yet again, not much is forthcoming – at least not enough to offset the overall final count as it is.

What has become clear is that INEC’s ill-thought promise to upload results to her servers in real time became the lie it was when it was made but the integrity of uploaded results continue to withstand scrutiny. That is how it should be. Who does not know that there is no internet in over 70%, perhaps more, of the 180,000-plus Polling Units in Nigeria? Even Adichie cannot deny that more polling units in her native Abah, not to mention Anambra the State, lack internet than have it. How is INEC to fulfill that foolish undertaking in those units?

Asíwájú Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the 2023 Presidential Elections in Nigeria and the real injustice would be any outcome that says he did not while awarding it on a platter of outrage to the man who came a distant third.

I understand everyone’s pains and disappointments on the other side, having been there myself after the 2015 presidential elections, but the system has to work according to the rules and the next stage is the courts. Unfortunately, attempts have been made by your side to gaslight even that process by telling lies, including the particularly odious one that the Chief Justice of Nigeria who oversees the Judiciary that will try the election petitions and may even be on the panel himself recently met the President-elect meeting offshore. Thankfully, that one failed. Now we are seeing letters to President Biden, to be followed by only God knows what next. Tell me about that your favourite sting-word, ‘disingenous’.

Ultimately, the endgame is to preemptively destroy the credibility of the ongoing legal process, foist hopelessness on the people and provoke anger in the streets. It might yet succeed, for there is no doubt that after years of relentless socioeconomic pains deep fury seethes in the streets of the nations – from Lagos to Paris to Hong Kong and around the world.

Read also: Chimamanda Adichie writes Biden, outlines how Nigeria’s election was manipulated

Worse, this letter again pinpoints Adichie’s Achilles’ heels as a world-renowned ironclad advocate of Africanness – one she betrayed early enough in her engagements with political commentary in Nigeria and Africa. That is, a vexatious, and frankly naive, penchant to portray the Westerners as knights in shining armour who will come riding in to rescue us blundering Africans from ourselves once a plea, most dolorous and full of misericordia, is despatched in their general direction by some optimist cum idealist.

Moreover, one also wonders at the African literary and allied celebrity’s seemingly bottomless faith in the First World as benign intervenors in the 3rd World, despite the clear and repeated witness of our recent to older history. How many Congos, Sierra Leones, Biafras, Libyas, etc will it take to convince Chimamanda and Co. that nothing that is beneficial to Africa will ever come from the West’s meddling in our politics? That we are better off making, learning and growing from our own mistakes? That tearing the cocoon to reduce the chrysalis’ struggles and ‘help’ it emerge easier and sooner only spells doom for the butterfly?

Is it also not a wonder that our brightest brains, rightly or wrongly so-called, love to ignore the dying light of the older democracies in the Whiteman’s world while frenetically inviting them to help Africa’s nascent ones shine brighter – especially if one or two elections or other incidents of democracy in which they deigned to evince an interest do not align with their partisan permutations?

Recent UK politics have been anything but exemplary and the US has had anything but clean democracy since at least 2016 – yet many a woman and her brother from Africa who have a recognizable name to leverage cannot seem to control the urge to routinely invite them as some sort of omniscient arbiters, to judge African democratic experiences and show her the way to the El Dorado they have yet to find themselves, or having found in past, seem to be losing now!

I am aware that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie well knows this saying by her own illustrious uncle and our icon, Chinua Achebe: ‘Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.’ In the light of this quote, I would urge that we beware, even in this season of anomie, the dangers of a single story. She herself said it well, ‘…we cannot underplay how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story.’

And I mean any story – including this one she has just laboured, like Scheherazade in the One Thousand and One Nights, to weave for President Biden, and as she must have know before she put pen to paper, for the whole world.

Okezie-Okafor, a political realist, wrote in from Abuja.