In an apparent move to ensure the President of the United States, Mr. Joe Biden, sends a congratulatory message to the President-elect, Senator Bola Tinubu, his Special Adviser on Communications, Mr. Dele Alake, has faulted the claim by an internationally acclaimed novelist, Chimamanda Adichie, that the All Progressives Congress (APC) could not have won the election, if the results had been uploaded in real-time to the INEC Result Viewing (IREV) portal.Chimamanda, in an open letter to Biden, criticised the US government for congratulating Tinubu on his victory at the poll.
Though the US has congratulated Tinubu, its President has not formally sent a congratulatory message from the White House.In Chimamanda’s open letter titled: ‘Nigeria’s Hollow Democracy,’ published in The Atlantic, a United States-based newspaper, she noted that “something remarkable happened on the morning of February 25, the day of the Nigerian presidential election.
“Many Nigerians went out to vote holding in their hearts a new sense of trust. Cautious trust, but still trust.”In the letter, she argued that what followed was a breach of that trust, when on February 26, social media became flooded with evidence of voting irregularities.“Numbers crossed out and rewritten; some originally written in black ink had been rewritten in blue, some blunderingly white-out with Tipp-Ex. The election had not only been rigged, but done in such a shoddy, shabby manner that it insulted the intelligence of Nigerians.”
According to her, the ruling party’s candidate, Tinubu, was eventually announced as the President-elect of Nigeria.“Rage is brewing,” Adichie said, “especially among young people. The discontent, the despair, the tension in the air have not been this palpable in years.”The novelist faulted the United States State Department’s response in congratulating Tinubu and accepting the election results.“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 told Biden that: “You have spoken of the importance of a ‘global community for democracy,’ and the need to stand up for ‘justice and the rule of law.’“A global community for democracy cannot thrive in the face of apathy from its most powerful member. Why would the United States, which prioritises the rule of law, endorse a president-elect who has emerged from an unlawful process?”
She argued that: “Congratulating (the election’s) outcome, President Biden tarnishes America’s self-proclaimed commitment to democracy. Please do not give the sheen of legitimacy to an illegitimate process. The United States should be what it says it is.”But in his response, Alake said Chimamanda Adichie’s letter to the US President was based on “falsehood.”Alake said Adichie relied on “rumours, hearsay, presumptuous conjectures, and outright falsehood” in her letter, adding that she did not provide any evidence to back her claims.
Alake, in a rejoinder, said the novelist would be lucky to avoid being asked to prove her allegation in court.“Chimamanda will be lucky if she does not have to prove this weighty allegation in court,” he said.While trying to prove the credibility of the election, Alake stated that the decisions of the Labour Party’s Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, and his counterpart in the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Mr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, to defect from the PDP to LP and NNPP, respectively helped Tinubu to win the election.
“It is instructive that Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso broke away from the PDP to contest the election on the platforms of the LP and NNPP, respectively. Had the PDP contested the election as one with Obi and Kwankwaso in its fold, winning the election would have been an uphill, almost impossible task for the APC.“But contesting on three separate platforms against the ruling party as they did, the victory of the APC was logically and empirically inevitable,” he wrote.
He noted that Chimamanda also based her opinion on the outcome of the election on “flawed opinion polls” conducted before the 25 February election.“Chimamanda had pinned her hopes on a possible Obi victory partly on predictions of flawed opinion polls, some of which were predicated on statistically negligible and thus unreliable sample sizes and others on no discernible empirical basis whatsoever. Opinion polls do not win elections,” Alake said.Alake questioned Chimamanda’s knowledge of Nigeria’s electoral laws and the role of technology in the last election.“Chimamanda betrays her ignorance of Nigerian politics and unwittingly misled her readers,” he added.
“Without the slightest shred of evidence, Chimamanda avers that INEC’s inability to upload results of the presidential elections online as promised on February 25 was not due to technical hitches, but rather deliberate human mischief and manipulation to rig the election. In her words, ‘If results were updated right after voting was concluded, then the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), which has been in power since 2015, would have no opportunity for manipulation. Technology would redeem democracy. Results would no longer feature more than voters. Nigerians would no longer have their leaders chosen for them”.
Alake described Chimamanda’s claim as a mischievous distortion of reality and utterly laughable.According to him, the introduction of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) in the 2023 election for the first time indeed helped to ensure that only duly accredited voters could vote.
Alake argued that it was now no longer possible for party agents in collusion with unscrupulous electoral officials and security agents to simply thumbprint ballot papers and stuff ballot boxes in favour of certain parties and candidates.
He insisted democracy in Nigeria was thriving, contrary to acclaimed author’s claims, describing her as an unrepentant Igbo jingoist, arguing that Obi had campaigned based on religion and ethnicity.He insisted the former Anambra State governor would never emerge Nigeria’s President having based his campaigns on those factors.