Nigerian author, Chimamanda Adichie, has warned the president of the United States, Joe Biden, not to legitimise Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election by congratulating its winner, Bola Tinubu.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) crowned the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in a keen contest against Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and 15 other candidates.
Numerous irregularities marred the February 25 election, especially the transmission and collation of results which has proved a very controversial subject.
INEC had promised that results would be collated electronically and available to be viewed on an online portal in real-time, but several glitches sabotaged the process. The commission rejected calls from many parties for the glitches to be fixed and announced the winner by collating the results manually.
In an open letter published by the American publication, The Atlantic, on Thursday, April 6, 2023, Adichie accused INEC of betraying the trust of Nigerians. She highlighted the recorded incidents of violence, destruction, intimidation of voters, ethnic profiling and manipulation of results sheets.
“The election had been not only rigged, but done in such a shoddy, shabby manner that it insulted the intelligence of Nigerians,” she wrote in the letter titled “Nigeria’s Hollow Democracy”.
Biden is one of the few world leaders yet to send a personal congratulatory message to Tinubu, a 71-year-old former governor of Lagos. But the U.S. Department of State congratulated him hours after INEC’s announcement on March 1 and described the election as “a new period for Nigerian politics and democracy”.
Adichie condemned the congratulatory message as surprising and condescending and took a swipe at the prime minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, who has already congratulated Tinubu.
The critically-acclaimed writer of Half of a Yellow Sun noted, “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.”
Adichie pointed out to Biden that Tinubu’s victory has been greeted with muted celebrations in Nigeria, and put the nation in a state of unease.
“Rage is brewing, especially among young people. The discontent, the despair, the tension in the air have not been this palpable in years,” she warned.
The 45-year-old further noted to Biden that congratulating Tinubu would provide some legitimacy to the election and tarnish the reputation of the U.S. which claims to be committed to democracy.
The writer concluded the open letter by pointing out that the hurt Nigerians feel about the outcome of the election isn’t about who won or lost, but the flawed nature of the contest.
Obi, whom Adichie admitted she backed to win, finished third in the election and has already challenged the result in court. Second-placed Atiku has also filed a separate petition contesting the result.