The Nigerian presidential election took place on February 25, with Bola Ahmed Tinubu emerging winner. Three days after the election, Chimamanda Adichie wrote a New York Times Op-Ed titled “I Have Never Been So Proud of My Fellow Nigerians,” in which she details areas where the election process fell short.

Adichie had earlier endorsed the Labor Party candidate Mr. Peter Obi. [Go here if you missed it.] Though Peter did not win the election, his performance showed clear disruption in the culture and politics of election in Nigeria.

In the NYT piece, she touches on the lack of trust in the election process, among other key issues:

  1. There were incidents of violence during the election.
  2. With people having to wait for hours at the polling station, the election process itself was less than ideal.
  3. Voters were harassed and assaulted by men paid to cause chaos.
  4. The Independent National Electoral Commission (I.N.E.C.), the body that runs elections in the country, has not been transparent.
  5. In spite of the new voting electronic system, the process for uploading the result has not been smooth.
  6. This year’s election suffered from rigging, a perennial problem in Nigerian politics.
  7. At the time of Adichie writing the piece, the result had not been published, hence her statement that the delays in uploading result was intensifying the lack of trust in the outcome of the election.
  8. People reported lots of discrepancies between the official numbers and what voters witnessed on election day.
  9. The election is trailed by a growing disillusionment and tension.

In spite of this concerns, she saw a ray of hope in the enthusiastic involvement of young people in the process:

A majority of Nigerians are below the age of 35. They are a bright, innovative and talented generation, a hungry generation, starved of good leadership, who do not merely sit back and complain but who act and push back and want to forge their own futures.On Saturday, many went out to vote, enthusiastic but cautious, their phone cameras ready to record any irregularities. They waited for election workers who arrived many hours late to polling stations. They braved the harassment and beatings of men paid to create chaos. They went off and bought their own ink for finger-printing when election workers claimed to have run out of it. They provided their own light from their phones as they stood in line in the dark, and according to one recorded case, a voter brought a small generator to a polling place when the voting machine stopped working. They refused to leave even though they had to wait so long that it was almost dawn when they could finally vote. And when it began to rain, they came together and sang beautiful songs. I have never been so proud of my fellow Nigerians. Many were voting for the first time, inspired by one candidate, Peter Obi, who has brought to them that ineffable thing that we humans need to thrive: hope.

Read the full article:


Image via Howard County Library System’s Miller Branch