FeaturesA Season Of Executive Begging

A Season Of Executive Begging



In mid-April during a Ramadan Tafseer in a Kano mosque, Governor Umar Ganduje of the state begged for forgiveness from those he might have offended in the course of carrying out his duties as the state’s number one citizen for eight years. Days later, at a send-forth in Banquet Hall Aso Villa, President Muhammadu Buhari asked for pardon from those he may have hurt while in office. Then just last week, Ganduje’s counterpart in Taraba state, Darius Ishaku made his own plea in a church to the people of Taraba. His apology was more dramatic: on his knees, left hand raised to the heavens as if cementing a covenant with his own people with God as his witness. Except before and during elections, politicians are not known to go on their knees to the electorate to ask for forgiveness. They are even less inclined to do so once they’ve completed their terms in office for the very reason that they won’t be answerable to voters anymore. So, what is the reason behind this season of executive begging? THEWILL asks. Michael Jimoh reports…

Chief executives seldom say they are sorry to subordinates in the workplace let alone beg for forgiveness. As the boss, admitting to your subordinates that you were wrong in some of your decisions might be interpreted as a sign of weakness or fecklessness. Begging them to forgive you for the same mistakes is even worse because, by virtue of your position, you ought to have avoided those mistakes in the first place. In other words, you can avoid saying sorry by simply doing the right thing.

So, what is one to make of the recent plea for forgiveness by the chief executive officers of two states in Nigeria and by the number one citizen of the country itself?


Of course, politicians are not above stooping to conquer. Pounding the pavement in pinstripe suits on the streets of London or New York, in Gallabias glad-handing voters in Kasbahs in Morocco, smiling affectionately under huge Sikh turbans to waving supporters in Punjab, giving the V-sign in agbada or baban riga at campaign stopovers in Abuja or Aba, Benin or Bauchi, politicians are just about the same everywhere – they beg, usually before elections and not after.

But it does seem that some politicians in Nigeria have taken executive begging to another level. In a crowded mosque in central Kano on April 14 during the Ramadan Tafseer presided over by Sheikh Nasidi Abubakar Gorondutse, the governor of the state did what none of his predecessors had done before while in office. He made a public plea for forgiveness from those he may have wronged in the course of performing his duties as governor.

Appropriately enough, Sheikh Gorondutse’s sermon for the day was on forgiveness, as if preparing the congregants for what is to come. Ganduje wasted no time in taking matters up from there.

“With this,” the governor began, “I can say the end of my tenure has come as governor of Kano state. I am bidding you farewell and I am wishing you all the best in life. For those whom we have offended, already our Imam has preached about forgiveness. From my own side, I have forgiven you all. Whatever someone said about me, I forgive him. I also beg you to forgive me. Thank you.”

Not done, Ganduje proclaimed again that “I spent six years as commissioner in Kano, eight years as governor of Kano state. So, I must thank God Almighty for this blessings. But for this long period, there must be some places where I did right where I did wrong. Sometimes someone will commit an offence on your behalf. For whatever wrong I did, please I seek your forgiveness.”

Considered an act of contrition, forgiveness is central to many religions of the world. It is the basis of the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible. Likewise in the Quran, forgiveness is one of the most important teachings in Islam. It is hard to imagine anyone of the congregants in the temple of Allah not forgiving the governor right there and then. As anyone might imagine, it has also elicited responses from social media.

“We have forgiven you your Excellency,” Mas’ud Abdullamid twitted. “May Almighty God forgive us all,” a point echoed by Mustapha Idris Abdullahi who wrote that “we forgive you Baba. May God increase you in health.”

Reedwan Shagari was somewhat nostalgic. “Kano people will miss a good and kind-hearted governor. Ganduje is kind despite all the sabotage people are doing to him, but he don’t (doesn’t) care.”

But for Yakubu Magaji Mani, Ganduje asking for forgiveness is all hogwash. “Where is our cleric Abduljabbar? Release him if you want us to forgive you.” Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasiru Bakara is the Muslim cleric sentenced to death by hanging by a Sharia Court in Kano last December for blasphemy. Bakara is in detention awaiting the hangman’s noose.

It is not clear yet whether, as an act of clemency, Ganduje might commute Bakara’s sentence on or before May 29 when he leaves office as Kano state governor.

Compared to the responses generated by PMB’s mea culpa, Ganduje’s is child’s play. At a send-forth organised by Minister of FCT, Muhammed Bello for the outgoing president at the Banquet Hall in the Presidential Villa, PMB also asked for forgiveness from those he may have offended while in office from 2015 to now.

“Those that think that I have hurt them so much, please pardon me,” PMB told select guests at the Presidential Villa during the final Sallah prayers. “I think this is a very good coincidence for me to say goodbye to you and thank you for tolerating me for more than seven and half years. I honestly consider myself very lucky. I was made a governor, minister of petroleum, head of state in uniform, then after three attempts, God, through technology and PVC, I became president. I think God has given me an incredible opportunity to serve as your president. And I thank God for that. So, please whoever feels I have done wrong to them, we are all humans. There is no doubt that I hurt some people and I wish you will pardon me.”


The call for forgiveness was hardly out of the presidential lips when Nigerians took to social media to call him out. Singer and former president of PMAN, Charley Boy, panned the plea for forgiveness by PMB for “deliberately mismanaging” the country for eight years. Unsurprisingly, Omoyole Sowore, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, harrumphed via a tweet that Buhari “destroyed businesses, you took innocent lives, you destroyed the educational sector, you deprived the sick and infirm of an opportunity to be nursed to health. You unjustly detained and imprisoned many.”

Less surprising also was the response of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) to PMB’s public apology. Dr. Bitrus Pogu, MBF’s national president said: “If he wants us to forgive him, let him right the wrongs done by INEC so that we can have the right people in office and have the kind of Nigeria that we are looking for. He should not hand over to crooks but let him ensure that the right person comes into office.”

For elder statesman Tanko Yakassai, what Nigerians wish is for Buhari to go “so that the myriads of problems facing the country could be addressed.”

There were those who opined that PMB couldn’t have done otherwise as president for that length of time. Convener of Concerned All Progressives Congress, Okpokwu Ogenyi, thinks that PMB asking for forgiveness is right on track.

”It is a welcome development that the President is seeking forgiveness from those he might have offended in the cause of delivering his duty as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

”It is not possible for you to govern without stepping on toes and, of course, President Muhammadu Burahi has stepped on toes in his quest to bring good governance to the country. The President, through his monetary policy, electoral reform, through many other aspects of development, has stepped on toes, which of course, he has genuinely asked for forgiveness.

”I urge Nigerians to see that in a good light. The President did not mean any harm or did not intentionally mean any harm to any individual or group of persons. The President, in his attempt to restore security to the country, has also stepped on toes. The President, in his own way to bring development, also stepped on toes. It is not possible for you to provide quality governance without stepping on toes. So the President has not erred by saying that. The people that are portraying the apology in a bad light are being mischievous because even in the family, it is not possible for you to provide leadership without stepping on toes.

“Some certain things that we call stepping on toes or offending people do not really mean offending the people. You may have taken a very good decision that will affect somebody’s life positively; one could be hurt as a result of that decision.”

Of the three chief executives pleading for forgiveness, Governor Ishaku of Taraba state seems to have made a safe landing. His plea was also more dramatic. Venue was the Anglican Church Mayo Dasa, Jalingo and it was organised by no less a distinguished body as the Taraba chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).


Facing the congregation from the lectern, Ishaku spoke at length on his eight years as governor. “As a leader who had led the state for almost eight years,” the governor said, “it was likely that I might have offended so many people either knowingly or unknowingly in the cause (sic) of discharging my duties as the Executive Governor.”

On his knees at some point and alluding to forgiveness as stated in the Bible, Ishaku said: “We are taught to forgive those who offend us. In this case, I am asking those I have offended to forgive me. I did in the house of God and if they do not forgive me, it is between them and God.”

Governor Ishaku’s sermon at Jalingo was not all about himself though. He also exhorted the people of Taraba to live by the mantra of leadership he brought to governance. “Give me peace and I will give you development,” he said, advising them to continue to embrace the spirit of that peace and love. “Let the spirit of peace, love and forgiveness guide their attitudes, actions and relations with their fellow people.”

With this mea culpa from the outgoing governors and president, you could say that politicians have now set a precedent – of begging those they have governed to forgive whatever misdeed they may have done in office. Even so, saying sorry isn’t such a novel thing in Nigeria.

On the streets, at home, at work or just about anywhere, it has almost become a refrain. To wit, abeg, make you no vex.

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