February 9, 2015
Dear Senator John Kerry:
I have decided as a 39 year old Nigerian Citizen that has lived in Nigeria all my life to write you this letter – one that I am equally copying to President Barack Obama and Ambassador James Entwistle based on your press statement of February 7, 2015 that read thus:
“The United States is deeply disappointed by the decision to postpone Nigeria’s presidential election, which had been scheduled for February 14.
Political interference with the Independent National Electoral Commission is unacceptable, and it is critical that the government not use security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process. The international community will be watching closely as the Nigerian government prepares for elections on the newly scheduled dates. The United States underscores the importance of ensuring that there are no further delays.
As I reaffirmed when I visited Lagos last month, we support a free, transparent, and credible electoral process in Nigeria and renew our calls on all candidates, their supporters, and Nigerian citizens to maintain calm and reject election-related violence.”
First, considering your comments and expressed concern about the elections in Nigeria, which was also the prime focus of your last visit to Lagos last month, I would like to present you with the table below – the contents of which I believe your research desk on Nigeria should have been able to provide you with already:
As you would notice, Sir, April seems to have become the official election date in Nigeria over the last 4 election cycles [the 1999 elections was supervised by the Military] in the same way November has always been the case with the U.S. [for all the ones I have followed in my adult life], and this has been the case under Three Different Presidencies – those of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umar Musa Yar-Adua, and the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan. These four elections – always supervised by the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] has done these under three different Chairmen – Abel Goubadia, Maurice Iwu and Attahiru Jega – there is therefore an established pattern here – proving this trend has nothing to do with a season or an individual but the process.
Second, I am equally concerned that your country being the lead-propagators of Democracy around the world that constantly insists on the rights of all citizens to count in a democracy do not seem to concern yourself [at least not within your press statement] with the possible impending disenfranchisement of 23.71 million Nigerian Voters by INEC – being the number of registered members of the electorate that the agency as at February 5, 2015 had not yet provided with their Permanent Voters Cards [PVCs] – as shown in the table below, this number represents a staggering 60% of the voters turn out in the 2011 Presidential elections:
Seriously, how come the same INEC that begged Nigerians in 2010 to allow it postpone the elections by almost 105 days for the same reasons of not being able to provide the citizenry with Voter’s Cards now seem ever so willing to run along with this election despite several opposing views in that regard as demonstrated by elder statesmen, political action groups and even political parties – seemingly looking like as though only the lead opposition party – All Progressives Congress [APC] seemed willing to work along with INEC to deny these 23.71 million voters of their rights to vote.
Third, it is also noteworthy that this same Obama administration as exemplified by the actions and body language of the State Department under yourself and Senator Hillary Clinton has consistently played the politics of non-committal towards Nigeria in the last 5-6 years considering the massive security challenges the nation has faced in the course of that period – rather issuing positions via those connected to your office ranging from “the Nigerian Government is corrupt and unwilling to fight Terrorism” to “We cannot sell ammunitions to Nigeria to fight Terrorism because we are concerned about the safety of such equipment” yet today, your department and nation now have a problem with a push of these elections’ dates even though the same security challenges which you have abandoned Nigeria to face is now the official reason adduced by INEC and the security forces for these postponements.
I am therefore tempted to ask you the following questions:
- “If the U.S. was so interested in the peace of Nigeria and knew that elections was a very important part of that, why has the US consistently refused to offer to Nigeria the same commitment and support that it is currently offering to Iraq, Syria, Yemen versus ISIL even though today, Boko Haram could have arguably taken more lives than ISIL in the last couple of months?”
- “Is there any available statistics anywhere in the world suggesting that “the Nigerian Government is more corrupt than those of Iraq, Syria and Yemen that would warrant for those nations to receive the sort of support they are getting from the U.S. in fighting terrorism that your nation is currently denying Nigeria?”
- So how come all of a sudden, the U.S. seems more interested in the Nigerian Elections beyond helping Nigeria to fight Terrorism which if it had done well would have helped Nigeria to be better prepared to hold the elections as scheduled?
Four, I would urge your department to desist from giving more impetus to already growing notion within the Nigerian Polity that “The U.S. government actively supports the Nigerian Opposition and would prefer to have a Nigerian of Northern-Nigerian origin with a Muslim Religious background to become the next President of Nigeria in order to help maintain a certain political balance within the Nigerian Polity” – and I am sure that one sure way to distance yourself from this misconception would be for you to respect the Nigerian Constitution by allowing the people of Nigeria to determine their own fate within the ambits of that same constitution by refusing to sign-up to the propaganda being spread by the opposition and their partners within civil society and intellectual class – at home and in the diaspora – that suggests the incumbent government has other ulterior motives aside those given by INEC and indeed other Nigerians, using myself as an example of such people, as I have already enumerated within this letter as the real reasons why a push in these elections’ dates has been necessitated at this time.
Five, those suggesting to your office and indeed the Obama administration that these postponements are similar to efforts to truncate our Democracy similar to the June 12 polls should be deemed a bunch of Alarmists and nothing more because while the that election indeed took place; and a winner was well-known to all before it was infamously annulled, this oncoming polls has not yet taken been conducted neither can the opposition provide you with any verifiable poll – local or international – even remotely suggesting that it will these elections – and as I see it, claiming victory in an election that has not yet been held would be tantamount to heating up the polity ahead of the polls that could result in a repeat of the post-2011 elections pogrom that led to the systematic killing of 800 Nigerians; burning down of 350 Churches; and displacement of 65,000 Nigerians – all within the space of about 3-4 days!
I close by reminding you of the comments you made while you were in Lagos last month thus: “So let me be clear: Anyone who participates in, plans, or calls for widespread or systematic violence against the civilian population must be held accountable, including by ineligibility for an American visa. Violence has no place in democratic elections, and I can guarantee you that the perpetrators of such violence would not be welcome in the United States of America.”
I dare say that this would be a good time for you, your department and the Obama administration to remind the various parties in these elections that you are very serious about that statement.
I thank you for your generosity in taking my comments to heart.
Favour B. Afolabi
Founder and President, Online Republic Media