Dear Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu,
Let me congratulate you and your party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on your victory at the presidential elections, and being declared the president – elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). I am not a card carrying member of the APC, but I voted for the APC, as you were the only presidential candidate amongst the three leading candidates that I believed, had the capacity, experience and broad-based national political support to implement much needed economic reforms and policies.
Arising from the election and declaration of your victory as the president-elect by the INEC, there has been a sustained and vicious media campaign to discredit and delegitimise not only your victory, but the entire presidential election, which I dare say and from my own voting experience, was peaceful, credible and a reflection of the choice of voters – at least in my polling area.
Prior to the presidential elections, as your supporter, I (and many of your supporters) endured months of vicious, malicious and outright demeaning and virulent social media attacks and provocations mainly from the supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP). You must have endured same too, whilst choosing to keep a dignified silence and focus on the task of winning the presidential elections. Your stoic attitude in ignoring the attacks, insults, demeaning caricaturisation of your person, and ridiculous attempts to criminalise your health status, gave me and your supporters the confidence to continue my support for your candidacy, without yielding to the provocations.
The nationwide suffering caused by the ill-advised and perhaps politically motivated Naira re-design policy and cashless policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), became fodder for more political provocations and virulent online social media attacks against the APC and your supporters. Interestingly, you were the only presidential candidate who spoke against the CBN’s devilish twin monetary policies, while calling out the CBN Governor and President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse the Naira re-design policy in the interest of ordinary Nigerians that had been unjustly denied their own cash deposited with commercial banks. The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi is on record to have advised Nigerians to bear with the CBN’s naira re-design policy, which effectively became a naira confiscation policy, obviously in the hope of benefitting in terms of votes, from the wide spread public anger against the APC that the policy brought about.
Thank God it all turned out well for you and your party! Today, no one, even your most virulent opposition or critic, can claim that your well-deserved victory and declaration as the President-elect was as a result of vote buying or voter inducement using cash.
The elections have now come and gone. But in seeking to discredit and reverse a popular mandate freely given to you by Nigerians, it seems many supporters of the presidential candidate of the LP have taken political provocations and virulent social media propaganda to dangerous levels that now threaten our democracy and our national sovereignty. I specifically refer to the letter to President Joe Biden by Ms. Chimamanda Adichie, first published in The Atlantic, an American magazine and multi-platform publisher on April 6th, 2023. Since its publication, the letter has now been reproduced or reported by various online and traditional media across the world.
In her letter, Ms. Adichie, who neither voted during the elections, nor was she an electoral observer, made very egregious and blatantly false claims in order to discredit the February 25th presidential elections, the INEC and yourself, with the United States Government. She also sought to discredit US institutions and media that had applauded the February 25th elections as being credible. Notable was her ridiculous attempt to put down American intelligence services, the US State Department and The Washington Post that recently published an editorial commending the Nigerian people for a relatively credible presidential election.
Ms. Adichie irresponsibly disregards the fact that both the State Department and The Washington Post (whom she accuses of “imaginative poverty and intellectual laziness”) highlighted concerns about the elections, but which however in their opinion, were not enough to characterise the Nigerian presidential elections as flawed. In her closing sentence, she accuses President Joe Biden of “tarnishing America’s self-proclaimed commitment to democracy” by congratulating the Nigerian people and yourself on the peaceful presidential elections. Just imagine the sheer insolence!
Shockingly, Ms. Adichie’s view of the presidential elections, and her accusations against the INEC and your victory are based on hearsay, not having being in Nigeria herself to vote for Mr. Peter Obi, her chosen presidential candidate whom she vigorously campaigned for internationally. Interestingly, Ms. Adichie found time to visit Nigeria barely less than two months before the presidential election, to be conferred with the traditional chieftaincy title of Odeluwa (meaning “Writer for the World”) in her village on the occasion of the 80th birthday celebration of the Igwe (local chief) of her village. Mr. Peter Obi who was a two-term governor of Anambra State, Ms. Adichie’s home state in Nigeria, was one of the distinguished guests at that very culturally beautiful event.
While the presidential candidates of both the PDP and the LP have approached the Courts to challenge the election in line with the Electoral Act 2022, Ms. Adichie in her letter to President Joe Biden, goes further to attack the integrity and credibility of the Nigerian Judiciary and the Nigerian Supreme Court in what she terms “judicial coronations”. The attempt to reach predetermined conclusion and maliciously undermine the judicial process by Ms. Adichie and supporters of Mr. Peter Obi is not new. Prior to the presidential elections, Mr. Obi’s spokespersons and some members of his presidential campaign team are on record to have stated that the only way Mr. Obi would lose the presidential election is only if the election was rigged.
Ms. Adichie terms the APC’s (and your) victory as “soiled”, a disdainful choice of word for Nigerians who voted for the APC on February 25th. But all of her accusations and false claims of a flawed election process, pale in comparison to her egregious accusation that Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman was “compromised” or “bribed” with millions of dollars by the president – elect. Not done, she says as a matter of fact that the president – elect is an “enthusiastic participant in the art of “compromising”.
As a Nigerian who voted for the APC and support our electoral and democratic institutions, this particular accusation cannot be overlooked or ignored as another irrelevant, meaningless accusation by a bitter opposition. President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu, please note that this is not about you anymore. It transcends your person. Ms. Adichie’s wild accusation is an attack on my vote; it is a revolting attack on our democratic institutions such as the INEC; it is an attack on the young men and women of the NYSC who braved insecurity and paid no heed to their safety and comfort to serve their country as ad-hoc staff of INEC on election day; it is a nauseating attack on the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act 2022; it is an attack on the over eight million voters who freely voted for you on February 25th.
The continued attempts by Ms. Adichie and others to discredit our electoral and judicial institutions and invalidate your victory as the president-elect won’t cease anytime soon, except Mr. Peter Obi is miraculously and somehow crowned as president – elect! We have seen protesters in Abuja stand in front of the Defence Headquarters, the seat of the Nigerian Armed Forces, pleading with the Nigerian Army to step in and save democracy! This is a clear indication that these persons would go to any lengths to destabilise our dear country to bring about what they term as “returning their stolen mandate”. They broach no opposition and are prepared to be uncivil in both their public conduct and speech. Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has termed these supporters of Mr. Obi as “fascists”.
Thus, President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu, please permit me to respectfully state that your inaction, particularly as these subversive elements continue their attack to imperil our democracy, and delegitimise the February 25th elections, is not what is required now. You must and should take legal means available to you to defend the faith and confidence I expressed in you and the APC, through my vote on February 25th.
There must be consequences for this false and malicious accusation by Ms. Adichie, else a generation of young people would grow up believing that it is just okay to not only maliciously discredit electoral and judicial institutions, but rubbish and disregard the constitutional rights of others to vote for their preferred political choice, when election outcomes go against their choices. Ms. Adichie’s ominously threatening statement that “rage is brewing, especially among young people” should not be ignored, and give an indication of their intent to cause widespread breakdown of law and order to invalidate your mandate.
In her 2009 TED talk, Ms. Adichie spoke about the danger of a single story, where she argued “that single stories often originate from simple misunderstandings…but that these stories can also have a malicious intent to suppress other group of people due to prejudice”. The narrative of a flawed and illegitimate presidential election, compromised by the INEC Chairman and yourself, is a clear example of how dangerous a single story has become to our democracy. President-elect, you must now act within the ambits of the law to ensure that our youths and the international community are not influenced by this flawed “single story” of the presidential elections.
Mr. President-elect, may I again respectfully urge that you should and must take legal action against this extreme malicious accusation by Ms. Adichie, accusing you of compromising the elections and the INEC chairman. It is most gratifying to note that Ms. Adichie lives in the United States, where the law is no respecter of social or literary status. Please note that I am willing to start a fund raising appeal to fund any such legal process by you against Ms. Adichie in the United States.
In conclusion, dear president – elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu, your honourable and distinguished silence so far in the face of continued falsehood and malicious accusations against your victory by Ms. Adichie and others is no longer golden.
The time to act is now.
Odion Omonfoman writes from Lagos and can be reached on [email protected]