By Oluwole Coker
As a literary scholar, I have great admiration for Chimamanda Adichie’s gift as a writer. I have devoted considerable energy to study her work and that of other third-generation Nigerian fiction writers. This was the focus of my Ph.D thesis defended at the University of Ibadan over a decade ago. I also contributed a chapter to a major study on her works edited by Prof. Ermest Emenyonu.It was indeed a delight to meet her in person at the African Literature Association Annual Conference at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA in 2018.
However, I find the current intervention by Chimamanda on the 2023 elections in Nigeria amusing. I say this because just like every other person, she has a right to support a candidate of her choice It is therefore only natural for her to be disappointed if the candidate loses.
I listened to her Arise TV interview and wonder why she is so particular that the election was not credible. She claims she has evidence especially from the “field ” that there are discrepancies between actual results and the ones announced by INEC. She also attempted to offer a non-legal interpretation to the FCT question in the constitution. In all of these , the writer does not realise that electoral contests are not mere wishful thinking.
On the “missed heroism ” of Prof. Yakubu, did Chimamanda bother to check the limit of the powers of the INEC Chairman as provided by the enabling laws? What did she expect Yakubu to do? Announce a cancellation or suspension of the collation? This is another wishful thinking.
Chimamanda literally questioning Soyinka’s mastery of the English language and his lack of ” restraint” is not complimentary for a man she claims she respects. Fascism and “Fascist tendencies” are not the same. The context of use by the Nobel Laureate is downplayed. If she does not agree with Soyinka”s use of the word or expression, this shouldn’t have warranted such venom.
To go back to her letter to the US President, I think Chimamanda imagines that politics can be imagined just like good fiction and conferred with reality. This is unrealistic. Calling on the US for intervention or denouncing the congratulatory message by the US government to the President-elect is clearly another exercise in wishful thinking. Nigeria as a sovereign nation will not pander to any super power for validation.
You cannot wish your candidate to victory. Electoral victories are earned. If and when disputed, the law is clear as to how to seek redress. Afterall, Peter Obi is a veteran of electoral legal battles. But this time around, he is challenging an election where he came third without the necessary spread. The PDP , his former party , is also laying claim to victory. Blackmails and acute sense of entitlement do not win electoral disputes. Incontrovertible facts do. Let Chimamanda avail her candidate and the Labour Party her “evidences” to strengthen the case before the Tribunal
Chimamanda is unhappy her candidate lost. She is human. However, as wishes are never horses, beggars may never fly. There is a limit to wishful thinking.
-Coker, PhD is an Associate Professor of Literature at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife