The word apologise is defined as “expressing regret for something said or done”. Regrettably so many apologies are insincere and are made simply in order to offer an excuse or defence rather than to acknowledge a fault. Over the past fortnight two high profile political office holders belonging to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) apologised to Nigerians in their own unique manner. A truly sincere apology must comprise three statements. First; “I am sincerely sorry for what I did and regret it”; Second; “I promise not to do it again”; and Third; “What can I do to make it better?” Even after all that, an apology doesn’t mean that justice has been served and the matter is over, but simply that reconciliation can commence. Unsurprisingly neither of the two high-profile apologies met up to these standards of sincerity.
As elections loom on the horizon, Nigerians have every reason to expect more apologies from those seeking political office especially from those who looted the treasury and still expect the electorate to vote for them or their proxies; those under whose watch innocent citizens are slaughtered on a daily basis; those responsible for lop-sided appointments which have marginalised sections of the country; and those who want to continue to hold elective offices despite their poor performance and being bedevilled by controversies. The first notable apology came from Uche Secondus the PDP’s National Chairman. Speaking at a PDP organised national discourse on contemporary politics, he apologised to Nigerians for “certain mistakes” which were made in the Party’s internal administration that allowed an “anti-people movement” to take over governance of the country. He said that the PDP’s mistakes were all part of an “evolution process”.
Although the apology is welcome, it’s evidently deficient in credibility and there is absolutely no basis for the PDP National Publicity Secretary’s assertion that Nigerians have accepted it. It’s worthy of note that at no time has any PDP leader apologised for their rampant corruption, incorrigible impunity or lack of vision and values. In the absence of any plans to make restitution, their apology is quite frankly little more than political gimmickry. Even though spokespersons for the Presidency have advised Nigerians to be cautious of the “less than honest” apology offered by the PDP, in all truthfulness the APC are in little position to criticise them.
The second high-profile apology was made by Pastor Osinbajo, the Vice-president (VP) at a Colloquium in Lagos. Touted as one of the most venerated public office holders in the history of Nigerian democracy, Osinbajo’s public credibility diminishes daily. He apologised to Nigerians over this administration’s inability to fulfil its election pledges, claiming that their failure was due to a paucity of funds caused by PDP’s treasury looting antics. Regrettably, the VP is beginning to sound like a cracked record. He erroneously said that “every time we talk as a Party and your government, we must show the difference between us and the Party and government which impoverished the nation”. This is sheer bunkum. Everyone has got his message by now. It’s all about money. It’s not about the PDP because leading the leading lights during their sixteen years of misrule such as Bukola Saraki, Yakubu Dogara, Rotimi Amaechi, Aminu Tambuwal, Chris Ngige, Nasir el-rufai, Segun Oni and a host of others are now leading lights of the APC. Instead of using his every address to the nation as an opportunity to lambast the PDP, Osinbajo should be trying to encourage Nigerians to bear their suffering with fortitude and hope for a greater tomorrow. He would do well to ponder the words of Keith Rowley an opposition leader in Trinidad who said that anytime a government resorts to blaming the opposition for its failure to deliver on their mandate and responsibilities to the people it’s a clear sign that they have accepted that they have outlived their usefulness.
The release of a list of corrupt PDP members which doesn’t contain a single member who has decamped to APC is a reflection of spiritual poverty. Worst still Osinbajo appears not to see the obvious contradiction in blaming the PDP for stealing all the money and yet appointing a former PDP stalwart and Senator, Udo Udoma as the Minister of Budget and Planning! The much-touted anti-corruption war increasingly looks like an anti-opposition war. Be that as it may, it’s extremely sad and worrisome that the APC makes no attempt to guide citizens as to what they should do now that the nation is broke. It reveals their lack of political philosophy and initiative to develop people-oriented policies. Government isn’t only about spending large sums of money. The ability to make people feel happier about themselves, feel prouder of their nation, and behave in a more compassionate towards one another has nothing to do with spending huge sums of money, and the failure to recognise this, is the single largest failure of governance in Nigeria. Besides which the constant complaining that there is no money simply doesn’t hold water.
The South African President Cyril Ramphosa was pictured on a scheduled flight to Durban sitting in the economy class. Compare this to all the hullaballoo of so called “VIP movement” which surrounded President Buhari’s recent visit to Lagos which brought most of the city to a standstill and caused so much unnecessary suffering. Where does the money come from for the fleets of luxury SUV’s APC leaders ride? The real problem in Nigeria is that those in whose hands the power to make things better, are the main beneficiaries of the nation’s inequalities.
Nigerians are tired of listening to excuses and apologies for our misfortunes. Apologies aside the question remains: How where and when is the nation going to get leaders not in love with money, but in love with justice, and not in love with privilege and publicity but in love with humanity?