By Martins Oloja
As it is now quite clear that our present crop of leaders at all levels may have hardened their hearts about the expediency of rebuilding Nigeria at this time, I think we should begin to relive some redemption songs for those who would like to be part of the next dispensation of leadership recruitment. It appears that no one has been able to assail the assertion of the iconic Chinua Achebe since 1983 that, ‘the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.’
I mean here that we should begin to look at some classics that didn’t fail some of our legends before civilisation kicked us in the face. Here is the thing, as we continue to grope from darkness to darkness, we need to share some values that can shape our character as a nation. I wrote here the other day on the ‘power of character,’ which some icons actually say ‘is destiny’. Yes, ‘character is destiny.’ I have tested some of the classics and I have found them profoundly powerful enough to shape and even fulfil our destiny as the most populous black nation on earth.
Coming to the brass tacks, I mean we should begin to share with our leaders and managers of our enterprises that there are some simple but significant things and ‘magic words’ they need to embrace to calm frayed nerves in and out of seasons, in good and bad times. It is a time to tell our leaders that at such a time as this, they need to swallow their pride and vanity and imbibe a habit of apologising to the people they lead or manage. And here is why.
It is now getting clearer every day that our nation can’t make progress if we continue to retain the crop of leaders we have been recycling since 1999. Our leaders hardly understand the most important sentence in the constitution that: ‘The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government…’ Most of our leaders care only about their security votes as ‘slush funds’ to take care of their future including winning elections and re-elections. They hurt the people every day. Through their callous acts, they hurt all the families, old and young. They hardly pay salaries and pensions in most states and local governments. Our leaders whose recklessness has triggered import-dependent economy hardly reflect on the consequences of high prices of food items and (consumer) essential goods at this time. As I was saying (in the last two weeks), our leaders are also using dubious means to extort even poor motorbike riders by collecting multiple taxes from them every day even in Lagos and Abuja. They don’t care about what happens to the poor and vulnerable, Frantz Fanon calls, “the wretched of the earth.” Our leaders violate even our organic laws to the extent that the Supreme Court claimed last week that our leaders are ‘taking impunity too far.’ In Africa’s most populous nation, the Senate can reject a president’s nominee but the president can call the bluff of the upper house and allow the rejected candidate to begin work and complete some tenure of even five years in office. This is Nigeria where the Chief Justice can be removed by a non-judicial officer and head of an administrative tribunal who doesn’t need to have recourse to the constitutional provisions on how a CJN can be removed. This is a country where leaders continue to borrow for consumption and they explain such recklessness with curious simplicity without recourse to the effects of the debt management on extant budgets. This is a place where our leaders don’t have to build or equip hospitals and schools for the people as long as they and family members can obtain visa to be treated and educated abroad. This is a nation where leaders who come fourth even in a governorship election can become the winner by the power of some curious electoral justice system. This is a jurisdiction where the elite hardly pay taxes and the same elite collect multiple taxes from poor market women and hungry taxi drivers every day. This is an economy where the federal legislators individually earn higher than the president, vice president, and the ministers of even the richest countries in the world and there is no strong institution to ask why. This is Nigeria, which harbours an economic capital that has been classified as second most stressful city in the world, second only to Mumbai in India. This is a unique country where soldiers are deployed for internal security for which they die almost every day when its police operatives are deployed to the roads to extort citizens and secure big men at home. This is a place where Supreme Court’s Justices homes can be raided and even doors brought down in the night with no one to take responsibility when no piece of evidence is tendered during trials of such justices. This is a jurisdiction with a complex diversity where a leader can defy constitutional provisions for federal character and appoint all the public officers from his or her own region of the country and there will be no question about consequences for such recklessness. Here is a country where regional leaders can appoint their family members as tax collectors for states at very high rates of reward for the collectors and there is no institution strong enough to ask questions about financial impropriety.
There is, therefore, a sense in which we the people can claim that most of our leaders at all levels have sinned and come short of the glory of God and man. They have mismanaged our economy to the extent that they can’t provide welfare for the people. There is double ‘wahala’ (tragedy) for the same people, as the state cannot provide security for residents of even the capital of the unfortunate federation.
That is why I feel that our leaders should seek the face of God by asking for His grace to understand the power of expediency of apologising to the people at this time. There is tension in the land. There is hunger in the land. There is unbearable inflation in this place. There is the insufferable level of corruption they promised to eliminate since 2015. What is worse, it seems to the people that rampaging corruption is fuelling rising insecurity nurtured by terrorism they want us to call banditry. There is, therefore, no doubt, our leaders need to understand that they should repent from their increasingly unbearable wickedness. They need to realise the power of apologising to the people at this time. Here again, are the reasons:
Saying ‘I Am Sorry’
SAYING you’re sorry is called apologising. When you apologise, you’re telling someone that you’re sorry for the hurt you caused, even if you didn’t do it deliberately. An apology is a statement that has two key elements; it shows your remorse over your actions and an acknowledgement of the hurt that your actions have caused to someone else.
Col. Sanjeet Sirohi, an Indian motivational speaker and soft skill trainer says, ‘I am sorry’ is the most powerful sentence in the world.
Why Should We Apologise?
THERE are many reasons why we should make a sincere apology when we have hurt someone unnecessarily, or have made a mistake. First, an apology opens a dialogue between yourself and the other person you seem to have hurt. Second, when we apologise, we also acknowledge that we engaged in unacceptable behaviour. This helps us rebuild trust and re-establish our relationship with the other person. Third, what’s more, when we admit that the situation was our fault, we restore dignity to the person we hurt. In the main, a sincere apology shows that we are taking responsibility for our actions.
Why Apologies Can Be Difficult
DESPITE all these positive reasons, why do some people still find it difficult to apologise?
In the first place, it takes courage to apologise. When you admit that you were wrong, it puts you in a vulnerable position, which can open you up to attack or blame. According to Sirobi, you may be so full of shame and embarrassment over your actions that you can’t bring yourself to face the other person.
What is more, you may find yourself following some advice that “never apologise, never explain.” It’s up to you if you want to be arrogant and damn some consequences.
This has been proven: even if what happened was an accident or you did something you didn’t mean to do, you would probably still feel sorry if you knew the other person’s feelings were hurt. This happens when you have a strong conscience. After apologising, you might feel a little better (the other person probably will, too).
You may ask somehow if apologising can fix everything. This is another feeling but saying, ‘I’m sorry’ when you need to is the right thing to do. It does a lot of good. But by itself, it might not be enough to make everything all better again. Sometimes along with an apology, a person needs to fix the mistake or promise to do better. Sirobi agrees with this line of thought.
In my journey through life, I have seen family members refusing to talk to each other for years after an argument just because neither side wants to be the first to let go of their pride and “break down and apologise.” But who decided apologising was a sign of weakness? We need to reflect on our sense of pride and vanity and sometimes realise that we have reached a day and age where showing emotional vulnerability can be viewed as a positive rather than a negative quality.
People are becoming more aware of ideas like empathy and sensitivity, and everywhere we are being encouraged to talk about our feelings, to seek help, and to connect with others. Gone are the days of keeping everything bottled up inside to suffer alone.
As we move forward in this time of self-knowledge and self-discovery, it’s vital to acquire the ability to recognise our own mistakes. People in authority in Nigeria need to be told to realise that nobody is perfect and so they are not perfect. They need to realise at this juncture that they cause emotional pain to citizens of this country every day. The trouble, however, lies in their refusal or failure to acknowledge that they have done the people some wrong.
This is, therefore, a time to tell our leaders in Nigeria that they need to apologise to us, as they have hurt us a great deal through poor leadership to the citizens and indeed the black race. Our leaders should swallow their pride and vanity for them to realise that even national apologies can be a big deal. When they offer that, they acknowledge the past to help move everyone forward. We may need to explore more about this context (when nations apologise. But Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami should apologise first to Justice Mary Odili and the nation on the recent despicable raid on her residence. That apology can be a significant balm to heal some wounds at this time.
The power of saying ‘I am sorry’
By Martins Oloja