Ngozie Chimamanda on the democracy of Nigeria

Electing one’s choice to a seat of power is supposed to be the most beautiful thing about democracy, but what happens when we realise all these efforts are waste, and our right to vote is only allowed to fulfil the norm? Charles Bukowski comes to mind, as saying, “The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting. ” Ngozie Chimamanda, Nigerian renowned author, must have believed this when she reported Nigeria’s questionable democracy to the U.S. president, Joe Biden. 

What about it? This piece has been prepared to succinctly answer such questions as the annotation of Ngozie Chimamanda’s letter to president Biden, what triggered it, and the cold shoulders it has gotten from the Nigerian ruling party, APC. 

Ngozi Chimamanda wrote to President Biden 

Owing to her words, perhaps Chimamanda would not have written to president Biden if the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had made a sincere effort to dispute all proofs laid against the credibility of the Nigerian 2023 presidential election earlier.

In an open letter to the U.S. titled “Nigeria’s Hollow Democracy ” in “The Atlantic ” magazine, Chimamanda saluted president Biden and expressed her disillusionment in the United States’ congratulatory messages to Nigeria and her new president-elect. This, she described, has happened because the U.S. didn’t investigate the authenticity of the 2023 presidential election. She said, “American intelligence surely cannot be so inept.”

The author tried to convince her readers with a number of points noting that the discrepancies in the collation of the said election results were too shoddily done, such that the flaw cannot be dabbed technical glitches — contrary to what INEC had earlier proposed. The outcry of polling unit agents on the incongruity between what they had and what was officially uploaded, the difficulty in getting PVC, and how elections were conducted with nonfunctional IREV, are some of the reasons Ngozie thought the election was disastrous.

Further, she claimed that most egregiously, some of the results uploaded on INEC server do not tally with what was announced during collation. She was also unhappy to learn from first-hand sources that most of the uploaded results were mutilated; tippexed and overwritten. 

Chimamanda, in the letter, reminded Biden of his commitment to promoting democracy and how appreciating a mutilated election (like Nigeria’s) misrepresents the interest of a nation (U.S.) that strongly advocates democracy. 

Cold Shoulders from APC

At the time of writing this report, two responses to Chimamanda have made-the-rounds: Dele Alake and professor Yemi Oke’s. They are responses that have also stirred reactions. 

Dele Alake, the special adviser to the president-elect, has tamed Chimamanda’s words as being based on presumptuous conjectures, saying that he hopes she wouldn’t have to give evidence of her claims in the court of law. Emphasising that Chimamanda is a human too, he admitted that brilliance is not an immunity against prejudice.

He reminded us of her book “Half of a Yellow Sun ” on her Igboccentric perception of reality. She supports Peter Obi, and her letter was consequently to satisfy primordial reasons, as Dele would later admit.  

Similarly, Professor Yemi Oke, a Nigerian-Canadian lawyer claimed to be disappointed by the Purple Hibiscus author’s letter, describing how the letter can get her convicted of seditious conspiracy. To him, Ngozie’s letter is not intended to address the 2023 election, but rather to paint her home country ‘black’, condemning the entire democratic process of the country. 

Femi Fani-Kayode and Festus Keyamo are some other APC members who have strongly disagreed with Ms. Ngozie’s letter to Biden. 

Speaking on Arise News, Ngozie replied to the attacks on her letter, some of which she called the juvenile fulmination of non-juvenile people. In a nutshell, she was heard as saying it would be much helpful if anyone can point out the untrue thing in her letter to Biden. 

Related Cases 

The likes of Dino Melaye of the People’s Democratic Party and Labor Party’s former senator Datti Baba had equally questioned the 2023 election in hard-hit harangues aimed at APC. 

Dino Melaye was bawling “We are not here to rubber stamp” after the announcement of Ekiti state election results at the collation centre. When asked, he said the National chairman didn’t give them access to the uploaded results in polling units where elections were cancelled. To him this was unauthentic. 

Dattti Baba spoke about the dangers of swearing-in a president that won unconstitutionally… Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka would later dub Datti’s speech as unbecoming, believing that it is not in Datti’s jurisdiction to dictate to the supreme court. Ngozie disagreed with Wole on this. 

What you should know 

And here comes my opinion. Many may have rightly said Ngozie Chimamanda was only being jingoistic to her tribe and implicitly promoting the interest of the party she is in support of, and Chimamanda has also given plausible premises to underscore her thought that democracy is empty in Nigeria. Who then is right? 

Bring these harangues together and my conclusion will cut across both ways: Neither Chimamanda nor her critics have given any concrete evidence for or against their opinions. Until any is able to provide us with some real-time evidence, I would suggest that no speech should be regarded as decisive.  

In Conclusion, as is now visible to the blind, the author may have been largely mistaken, but getting clarified about the puzzlement in the recently conducted Nigerian election is the major concern of Chimamanda Ngozie. This, she has made rather obvious in a recent interview with Arise News. 

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