Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Election Postponed

Nigeria Postpones Elections 

Professor Jega
Professor Jega, head of INEC

On Feb. 7 one of our Friends of Nigeria (former Peace Corps volunteers in Nigeria) online members sent word the elections were postponed. He provided a link to an article in the Irish Times. Abullahi Edward, the former volunteer living in Nigeria whom I’ve quoted before, replied to the group that he thought this was presumptuous as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had not announced a delay.

But the Irish Times had the inside scoop. And they actually said that, “Nigeria’s electoral commission is to postpone presidential and legislative elections.” So they reported correctly.   

The New York Times published an article online on Saturday evening after the announcement by INEC. They quoted the electoral commission: “Nigeria is postponing presidential and legislative elections until March 28 because security forces fighting Boko Haram extremists cannot ensure voters’ safety around the country.”

INEC’s head explained that he had made the decision reluctantly on receiving a request from the armed forces to delay. Several other factors were also mentioned in the articles I’ve read, including this from the same NYTimes article: “The postponement also will give the commission a chance to deliver more voter cards: Jega said that by Friday, only 45.8 million of the 68.8 million cards needed to vote had been collected. Nigeria does not have a working postal service, though it has Africa’s biggest economy.”

Many people have fled their places of residence. Voter cards are being delivered to population centers for voters to pick up prior to the elections. So those who are not in their own towns do not have access to their voter cards. Fear of Boko Haram will, unless there is significant change, prevent many from venturing to polling stations even if they have their voter cards.

The last sentence I quoted from the NYTimes, about the lack of a working postal service, made me laugh, and I know it will amuse my sister Beth.

Two years ago she mailed a birthday card to my husband for his birthday when he was in Nigeria. She mailed it two weeks ahead to allow plenty of time. She didn’t believe me at first when I told her it was a wasted effort. “He’ll get it sometime soon, won’t he?” she said.

No, the article is correct, there is no working postal service. There has not been for many years.

Next time I’ll tell you a story about the postal service when I was a Peace Corps volunteer and it did work!

NBC published a story early yesterday on the postponed elections. Their news includes a video feature that explains Boko Haram as much as it’s possible to do in 30 seconds. It’s worth watching for the basic facts.

Abdullahi sent Buhari’s statement on the postponement of the elections. Thank you, Abdullahi. I’m quoting portions of it:

General Buhari’s Statement (Feb 7) 

“We Must Be Calm and Resolute

“Following the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the 2015 general elections by six weeks, I wish to appeal for utmost restraint and calm by all Nigerians, especially the teeming supporters of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“This postponement, which comes on the heels of the bogey of the National Security Adviser that half of the registered voters were being disenfranchised was exposed as a crude and fraudulent attempt to subvert the electoral process. . .  the independence of INEC has been gravely compromised.

“As a Nigerian and a presidential candidate in the elections, I share in the disappointment and frustration of this decision. . .However, we must not allow ourselves to be tempted into taking actions that could further endanger the democratic process.

“If anything, this postponement should strengthen our resolve and commitment to rescue our country from the current economic and social collapse from this desperate band. Our desire for change must surpass their desperation to hold on to power at all cost. . . While I share the pains and frustrations of my fellow citizens over this development, my deep faith in the democratic process assures me that this country, with your support, will overcome.

“We must remain resolute . . and remain committed to the rule of law. I wish to state strongly that our party will not tolerate any further interference with the electoral process. The rescheduled elections of March 28th and April 11th, 2015 must be sacrosanct.

“God Bless Nigeria! Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR”

Creative Connections
Marriage of the West, Creative Connections

Creative Connections Student Artist

Polly at Creative Connections sent me another lovely picture from a Nigerian student. She said it’s called Marriage of the West.

The lovely drawing reminded me of our anniversary party in Clem’s hometown of Nanka. I wish I had the student’s name, but I think Creative Connections doesn’t give out the names for privacy reasons. Fair enough!

My Book Clubs 

I’m in two book groups. One, started by Elizabeth Baker many years ago, is called Baker’s Dozen.

We alternate between reading fiction one month and nonfiction the next. Every few months we go over our book list to choose the next books. One member, Sonja, is the keeper of the list and brings copies for our use. I love the discussions we have.

I couldn’t go to the meeting this past week where the group was discussing Factory Girls by Leslie Chang. I suggested they might want to read and discuss my memoir Nigeria Revisited My Life and Loves Abroad. After all, I included suggested questions for book clubs, in part for them.

They decided it might be too sensitive. I was a little surprised – too sensitive for whom? I offered and am ready to accept criticism and praise! But they agreed they would read it and give me their feedback individually. I look forward to that! I hope after they’ve read it, they’ll see that discussing it wouldn’t be too difficult.

Two other friends who just finished reading the memoir have asked me to have lunch with them to discuss it. I’m looking forward to it.

Orange is  the New Black
Orange is the New Black

My other reading group is the Mount Holyoke Club of Bridgeport’s book club. We don’t have a set pattern of fiction or nonfiction, and we decide at each meeting what to read next.

We’re reading Orange is the New Black for our next meeting! I just bought the Kindle edition and will start reading tonight.

I’ve watched the first two seasons. Did you watch it? Did you like it? I just saw that the next season is premiering in the summer.

I’m also reading John Coyne’s Peace Corps Writers book Long Ago and Far Away. And I’ve finished David Koren’s book Far Away in the Sky, A Memoir of the Biafran Airlift, but haven’t yet posted my review. If it’s not too late I’ll do it tonight before I start reading Orange is the New Black.

Are you in a book club? What are you reading?

Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.


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  3. Hi Catherine,
    My wife and I now live in rural Culpeper County in Virginia. There are advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages is the Fauquier Springs Country Club, a beautifully-situated country club that’s amazingly affordable as country clubs go. Our monthly charge is about the same as we were paying a health club in Reston, Va., when we owned a condo for commuting purposes.
    Our country club takes me back to memories of the Yola Club, a sundowner club in the capital of remote Adamawa State, which is now home to nearly one million people, more than half of whom are refugees fleeing Boko Haram. I was treasurer of Yola Club in 1964, when African members realized they had the numbers to take over club leadership. I wrote about this fascinating political struggle for an article in the Washingtonian magazine in 1968.
    But I digress! Our country club has a book club, and it turns out to be a wonderful monthly gathering. The leader is a retired Belgian astrophysicist, and the members are eager to participate. Our guest of honor last week was James Reston Jr., son of the famous New York Times columnist, and he’s written several highly respected books. We invited him to discuss his book, “Galileo: A Life,” which he recently turned into a play. The play was performed in an nearby outdoor setting last summer, and he hopes to see it performed in Italy, with Florence the likely venue. He suggested that it be performed in the Vatican, but that idea wasn’t greeted with enthusiasm.
    While researching his book, Reston gained access to top-secret records in the Vatican library of Galileo’s trial by the Inquisition, which broke his spirit and forced him to recant his view of the solar system. Reston told a story of apologizing to a Vatican librarian for staying up late the previous night/morning watching the Redskins in the Super Bowl. It turned out the librarian was also a football fan, and the two of them hit it off.
    You never know what you’ll learn in a book club!

    • Thanks for that meandering fascinating story, Steve. I agree; book clubs are wonderful places to learn all sorts of things, and not just about the book you’re reading!
      I am so tired of the cold weather here. Maybe we should visit Virginia. Surely one of the advantages is milder weather.

      • We’ve had some nasty winters here in Virginia, too, but nothing like what you’re experiencing in New England. Yes, you ought to come down here to Virginia for a visit. You can share Mount Holyoke stories with my wife, Bette Hileman, and get acquainted with our Unitarian Universalists of the Blue Ridge (UUBRidge). We’ll leave the light on for ya…
        I’m currently reading for our book club “League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth.” You’ll be pleased to know, if you don’t already, that the breakthrough on this issue was the discovery by Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian immigrant pathologist, of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CPE) in the brain of the late Mike Webster, a Hall of Fame center for the Pittsburgh Steelers. As an immigrant, Omalu was given a hard time by the NFL in its fierce denial of chronic head injury.
        My 13-year-old grandson George was playing tackle football until last year, and I was relieved when he switched to ultimate Frisbee.

        • Thanks for the invitation. It would be fun to exchange stories with your wife and meet the UU’s of the Blue Ridge. I had no idea about Dr Omalu – thank you for informing me. I pay little attention to football, even to the important news about the injuries. Only when the Steelers (that’s a football team, right) are winning and I happen to hear it, I pay attention because it’s my son-in-law’s team!