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Disgraceful 2023 polls: Buhari, Yakubu blew their chances of being Africa’s greatest heroes – Adichie



Last week, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie one of the greatest novelists to emerge from Africa and one of the most celebrated in Nigeria today, fired a letter to Joe Biden, US President to confront him on his country’s attitude to the general elections in Nigeria, particularly that of the presidency on February 25.

She wondered why the State Department, would be so quick to congratulate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in spite of poll’s manifestly flawed nature. On Tuesday, April 11, she was a guest on Prime Time, a current affairs programme on Arise Television, where she talked about the letter entitled: Nigeria’s Hollow Democracy among other issues, particularly the reactions that has been trailing that outing. Excerpts:

You called the 2023 presidential elections a slap to the face of Nigerians and insult to the collective intelligence of Nigerians. Why?

I wrote that letter because I think it is important to preserve the truth. I think when something like this happens in a country, I think it is important to tell the story of what really happened. One of favourite poems, says – and yet, why not say what happened – I wanted to say what happened and what happened is that this was an election that was unforgivably flawed. And there is evidence for that and I felt that it was important to say that.

But also, I wanted to call out the US for what I consider the two-facedness when it comes to Africa. The US has a long history of complicity in non-democratic elections on this continent. Recently, in Congo, two or three years ago, they endorsed an election that was an absolute sham. Then, the same US will turn around and criticise Congo for not being democratic. So, my point was to say, be what you say you are.

You cannot cricise African countries for being undemocratic, while at the same time endorsing something that is quite self-evidently, undemocratic.

Do you have evidence that what occurred was deliberate manipulation, as you claimed?

Yes, I think that one thing that is most glaring is that we Nigerians all saw these mutilated result sheets. We saw polling unit agents talking about how what they had from the polling units was not what was announced officially or what was uploaded officially. And I think for me that is a really striking reason and an example of how this election was not about technical glitches. And can we also realise that Nigeria is full of very bright young people in tech? There is no reason for that excuse of technical glitch. And the other question is if it was a technical glitch, why was it possible for most people to upload results of other federal elections, but not the presidential? And most of all is that there has been this resounding, unfortunate silence from INEC and from the Chair of INEC. I think Nigerians deserve the respect of an institution that is supposed to shepherd our democracy. Nobody has been able to explain to Nigerians how that happened. That statement on technical glitches is unconvincing.

Knowing how much hope and trust Nigerians invested in this election, knowing that Nigeria is a low-trust society, it means, I think that if people are sincere, then you make an extra effort to go out and explain to Nigerians what happened.

But the APC accuses you of not being in Nigeria during the election and did not vote and therefore in no position to criticise what you didn’t witness. What’s your reaction?

I don’t think it is useful criticism. I should say first of all, that I’ve never been fazed by criticisms. I wrote this knowing fully well that there would be criticisms from certain quarters. I seen a few things that people have sent to me and it’s kind of been amusing to read the juvenile fulminations of non-juvenile people.

But that said, I actually tried very hard and I should say that I have two homes – I have a home in Lagos and I have another home here in the US. I’m very often here. I tried very hard to get my PVC and the reason I tried very hard is because I’d been assured that technology would save us – that it had worked in Osun, worked in Ekiti and I think in Anambra – that it would save us. So, I really tried. So, we should also talk about how difficult it was to collect PVCs and how that in itself is a form of voter disenfranchisement. And so, I had done the first part, but I couldn’t collect my PVC. So, yes, I did not vote. But my not voting does not mean that I can’t comment on an election. I’m a Nigerian citizen. Every Nigerian citizen has a right to have an opinion about this election.

So, when people say that BVAS worked but IReV didn’t work, which is sort of a way of countering the accusation that technology was manipulated, really, the response is, both have to work for the election to be credible. So, BVAS was about making sure that we didn’t have ghost voters and that people who were there actually voted. But that defeats the purpose if you then do not upload the results. You’ve made sure that the real people voted. But those results, we can’t see them in real time, we cannot see them as Prof. Yakubu Mahmood said. He said, and I’m going to quote him because I’ve read it so many times that the public would be able to view the polling unit results as soon as elections are finalised on election day.

So, I think that is an important thing to talk about and address with the Nigerian people. The Electoral Act, gave INEC the legal backing to have electronic transmission of results and did say in a format that INEC would decide. And we know that format because the Chair of INEC told us what that format would be when he said results would be uploaded at the end of voting from the polling units. That was not done. And it seems to me strange to sort of deflect from that important issue and talk about how someone is not in Nigeria. Those are not the point. The point is what happened?

Are you worried about the possibility of a lawsuit as being threatened by the Tinubu camp for suggesting that he compromised INEC?

No, I’m not worried at all. Again, I think these are what is trying to deflect from what is important and what it is at stake. It will be very useful if people are able to point out what is untrue in the letter. I think it is important. We all know these stories about people who complained about how what we voted at the polling units is not what we saw in the result. Yes, there are anecdotes. But I think that gave us useful insight into what happened in that election in a way that all of those anecdotes become a kind of tidal wave of truth-telling. I think the rumours surrounding this election are part of the story this election. If you leave a gap in information, people will fill that gap. It is how human minds work. Again, this our country is such a low-trust society and people are so desperate to believe in something and we believe in this election but it doesn’t work out well and nobody gives us convincing reasons. Of course people are going to rumour about people being compromised. Also, our political landscape is steeped in people being compromised. So, I’m not worried about that. I think any fair-minded person in this country who is honest will acknowledge that these rumours are circulating. I stated very clearly that there are no evidence for them, but I do think it is important to see in the story of this election that many people are starting to think that what explained what happened is this compromising.

You supported Peter Obi in that election and the Tinubu camp has accused you of supporting your tribesman. Is this actually the case?

You’re right. Tribesman is such an outdated and strange expression, which I think also says something about whoever is using it. I think that kind of accusation is a practice of what psychologists call projecting. You’re doing something, but you accuse someone else of doing it even though they’re not.

I did not support Peter Obi because he’s Igbo as I am. I’m a person who does not take positions lightly. And so, while I very much admire Peter Obi and respect him, there are so many Igbo men I admire and respect, but I’ll never vote for them for President, because I don’t think they’ll make good President. My support for Peter Obi is actually rooted in real things. It’s rooted in my faith in his ability.

Actually, I got to know Peter Obi years ago when he came to pay homage to my parents because he got to know that my father was the first Professor of Statistics in Nigeria and that my mother had retired as the first female Registrar of the University of Nigeria. So, this man just arrived and said he wanted to pay homage. I was very impressed by that because it showed me how much he values education.

Then he becomes governor of Anambra State and he takes Anambra State to number one in Education. I remember being impressed by the story of how he had given his personal telephone number to all of the senior prefects in secondary schools in Anambra, which also showed me that he’s interested in what ordinary people think. You just don’t want to hear from the ministries, you want to hear from the students about what is really happening.

Then his focus on security. He really tackled kidnapping in Anambra. And I also remember that he really clashed with the Anambra elite, when he was tackling insecurity and kidnapping. That showed me that he’s very decisive. He has a bit of a stubborn streak. He’s very focused on things. That’s really why I support him. So, this idea of ethnicity is just really a way of deflecting. Let’s focus on what really matters. It’s unfortunate. Can I just say that it’s only one part of the spectrum that is politicising ethnicity and I think it is very unfortunate. I don’t think most people in Nigeria really care about ethnicity as much as they care of having a country that works.

We want good leadership. We want the hospitals and the schools and the roads to be good. That affects everyone – Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw – everyone.

How do you view Prof. Wole Soyinka’s position that Datti Baba-Ahmed’s comments on the outcome of the election as fascistic? I know you hold or had held Soyinka in high esteem. What do you think?

I still do. I have a lot of love for Prof. Soyinka. I admire him, I respect him as a thinker, as a writer – I think everyone should read The Man Died – and Ake, his memoir is beautiful. But at the same time, I disagree with him very strongly with him about this particular issue. And actually because I respect Prof. Soyinka, so much, I went back and watched this particular interview – I had watched it when it aired, but I went back and watched it because I thought, am I missing something? I think fascist is a very strong word. Fascist often makes me think of Mussolini’s Italy. Then we use it now sort of to address this sort of authoritarianism that often populates right-wing – like Hungary and even the American President. And if you look at the situation, you can see why they have been termed fascists. I do not see any reason that Mr. Datti Baba-Ahmed’s interview would have been termed fascist. I think he was making a very strongly-felt point about the election. What he was saying, which again, I thought quite reasonable, is that our democracy is rooted in our constitution and you then swear in a person who is elected unconstitutionally, then you’re in fact, ending democracy. I think it is quite a reasonable position. Of course we can argue about what that bit in the constitution means.

I’m actually grateful about this whole election period because it has made me read things that I probably wouldn’t have, such as the Nigerian constitution and made me have quite a few suggestions for editing. But I think we’re now talking about what does And, mean? Datti Baba-Ahmed is saying that it is two-thirds and the FCT, and that is separate. It is a reasonable argument. And is a conjunction. We use it in that context often to mean plural. And then we say, Aisha and Yemi are coming. We don’t say Aisha and Yemi is coming. That’s because they’re two separate things. Of course, the court will interpret. But I don’t think it is unreasonable for educated Nigerians who can read, who know what the word and means to make their own interpretations and to argue it. Of course, the fact that the Labour Party is in court, means that they don’t believe that this election is constitutional.

So, I didn’t quite see why it should be termed fascist. I think a charitable way of reading Prof. Soyinka’s comment is that he is not given to restraint in language in general. May be that’s where that word fascist came from.

However, I have suggestions for what we could use fascists for. We could use fascists for INEC, because as it is now, many Nigerians feel deeply cheated by INEC, deeply disenfranchised by INEC and there is an authoritarianism, which obviously is the basis of fascism at the centre of manipulating an election. Because what you’re doing is that you’re ganging people, you’re forcefully taking away their voice. That’s fascist. Fascist is all the violence that happened in the elections. Fascist is the way that some people remain silent about that violence. Fascist is the government that hasn’t come out to address the very tangible and palpable discontent in this country.

When I say we can use fascist for INEC, what I mean is that so many of us including myself are convinced that this was in no way technological glitch. I think that Prof. Yakubu had an opportunity for heroism and I think he wasted it spectacularly, because he could very easily have become not just the hero of Nigeria but Africa.

So, many Africans were watching and they were so inspired by what happened before that election by the Obidient Movement. I also think that President Buhari missed an opportunity for heroism, his last chance of heroism, because Nigerians don’t feel that – I think Nigerians felt before that election that he meant well and meant to give a credible election. I don’t think that many Nigerians feel that now. I wish that he had taken a page from former President Jonathan, because he is a moral man, a good man.



Speak now! Catholic priests want Kaduna gov’s reaction to El-Rufai’s Islamisation comments



Uba Sani, must either officially distance himself or affirm the declaration of his predecessor Nasir El-Rufai that Muslim-Muslim executive branch leadership, have come to stay or stand up to denounce it immediately.

These were the demands from Catholic priests in parts of the North, who as they expressed disgust at the statement, which showed the former governor captured in a video, which went viral last week, practically celebrating the continuation of an arrangement, which he first introduced in 2019, and which has now been sustained with the new governor having a Muslim deputy.

Clerics from Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria chapters of the Nigerian Catholic Diocesan Priests Association (NCDPA), in a public letter to Sani, urged him to declare his position on what they described as political supremacism in Kaduna state and Nigeria, as part of their reactions to the video, which has raised a lot of dust.

El-Rufai, who in his speech to Muslim clerics in the state, had recounted how after instituting an all-Muslim executive in the state himself and made it permanent in the state, the arrangement was pushed through at the national level with the election of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, as President and Vice President, respectively on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Informing that while Nigerians were actually believed that religion was not the issue in pushing through with the ticket, when it was in fact the case, the former Governor, who spoke in Hausa, declared that the arrangement had come to stay and would last for the next 20 years at the initial stage after Tinubu, adding that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), had been defeated by the outcome.

But an apparently thoroughly upset Catholic priests, in an open letter on Thursday, said: “Having soberly considered the contents and implications of such communication by a former state governor who is known to be your close ally, we feel compelled to write you, to know where you stand with regard to the commotions Mallam El-Rufai intends to propagate and perpetuate in our state,” the letter reads.

“We write you today because we are responsible stakeholders in the affairs of our beloved state with our own congregations and followers. Mr governor, we do not intend to conclude that you are in agreement with all the content of the former governor’s utterances, as you have given no explicit reason to suggest so (yet), even though you were present at the occasion! We therefore earnestly expect your direct official reaction to the utterances of your predecessor in office.”

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Buhari spent more than $19billion on revamping four refineries without result – Nasarawa gov



Barely two weeks after his exit, the records of former President Muhammadu Buhari, have come to to the fore with one of them indicating a damning verdict, as he was said to have sunk a whopping $19billion in trying to rehabilitate the nation’s four refineries, without anything to show for it.

Abdullahi Sule, Governor of Nassarawa State, who used the former President abysmal failure to make a case for supporting the removal on petroleum products, compared the huge wastage to the amount Dangote refinery, cost to give Nigeria a facility with the single chain production in the world.

None of Nigeria’s four refineries, located in Kaduna, Port Harcourt, and Warri is currently operational despite the huge amount sunk to resuscitate them, most of the funds borrowed from foreign lending agencies, the latest being the securing of $1.5million loan for that of Port Harcourt.

Bemoaning the situation, the governor, said: “Look at how much the President Buhari administration spent on fixing the refineries. In the eight years, he spent more money than the $19 billion that Dangote spent in building a refinery. That is one and a half times the size of our three refineries combined.”

A guest on Sunrise Daily, a breakfast programm of Channels Television on Thursday, Sule, pinned the payments of subsidy on Nigeria’s non-functional refineries, adding: “From the government side, I think we didn’t do a good job. When the (former) President (Buhari) came in in 2015, prices of crude oil dropped by less than 30 dollars. At that time, there was zero subsidy.

“Our three refineries in Nigeria today have a total of 450,000 barrels per day, Dangote is 650,000. He spent $19 billion on building it. We spent, not building a new one, but in maintaining these refineries; more than $19 billion in eight years, yet they have not been maintained.”

The Dangote Refinery, Africa’s biggest oil refinery, which took off in 2017, drew Nigerians and global personalities in different fields of life, including four African Presidents at its commissioning on May 22, 2023 by Buhari.

Sule, who also lamented the complexity of maintaining the refineries due to their diverse components, added: “The refinery is actually a component for water, crude, and diesel, about five or six different components that constitute a refinery. The moment the government says we are going to spend $2 billion this year on the refinery. The $2 billion is spent and as far as the President is concerned, they have given $2 billion.

“Now when it goes to the three refineries that we have in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna. Then they say, you now take $700 million, you now take $800 million – by the time they take that, it goes to fix maybe only one component out of the four components that are all bad. The ideal resolve would have been to allocate the major funds to one of the refining states to fix it totally before allocating the remainder to the other states.

“So, zero work is done. These are the true realities of what is happening, and that is why none of the refineries is working. These are truly the problem, we have not really managed this thing well.”

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Japan goes tough on asylum seekers, enacts new law to check abuse



Despite desperate attempts to block it, including a ruckus, which broke out in parliament Japan went ahead on Friday to enact an immigration law that would see the government deporting failed asylum seekers, even with members of civil society, joining in the pushback.

The law gives refugees only three chances to try after which they would face deportation, unlike before when applicants could stay in Japan during the decision process, regardless of the number of attempts they made to secure refugee status, reports, say.

The revised law will “protect those who must be protected while strictly dealing with people who have violated rules. There are many people who misuse the application system to avoid deportation,” Justice Minister Ken Saito, was quoted as saying, adding that this had persisted even when such people were not fleeing danger or persecution.

Last year, Japan accepted just 202 refugees out of some 12,500 applicants, and separately allowed 1,760 people to remain in the country due to “humanitarian considerations,” including more than 2,400 evacuees from Ukraine under a different framework.

Activists staged rallies against the revised law, but a protest from the opposition bloc in parliament was voted down by the ruling coalition, which holds a commanding majority.

“It is intolerable to deport people, even if they have criminal records, to countries that may violate their human rights” and where “their life and freedom would be in danger”, the Tokyo Bar Association said this week.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party says the revisions will bring better access to medical care and accommodation options for people whose asylum applications are pending.

Japan’s immigration detention conditions have been under scrutiny since the 2021 death of Wishma Sandamali, a 33-year-old Sri Lankan woman.

Sandamali was not an asylum seeker but had been held for overstaying her visa after seeking police protection, reportedly to escape an abusive relationship.

Her family are seeking compensation of more than $1 million from the government over her death.

Sandamali reportedly complained repeatedly of stomach pain and other symptoms, and campaigners allege she received inadequate medical care.

Controversy and political pressure over the incident led ruling lawmakers to drop a push to enact similar legal changes to immigration rules two years ago.

Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer for Sandamali’s family, told AFP on Thursday that the revised bill was “equivalent to having a button to execute those who seek refuge by deporting them”.

“Japan’s refugee recognition system is not working,” he said, with officials turning down applications quickly, sometimes without face-to-face interviews.

Amnesty International also said in March that Japan should scrap the proposed revision to immigration laws, calling the country’s detention policies “harsh” and “repressive.”

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