President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years administration will end in one month’s time. He will head home on May 29.
Buhari emerged as President in 2015 amid heightened hope as a messianic figure that would rescue the country from downslide.
He rode into power under the change mantra, promising Nigerians a more profitable deal than the erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration offered the country.
The administration claimed it had been one of the best things to happen to the country. On several occasions, the government argued it had fulfilled most, if not all, the promises it made to Nigerians during its campaigns.
Although opinions are divided on whether the administration has kept faith with the people, Buhari has always maintained that it dwarfed the performance by previous governments.
However, as the end of his tenure inches closer, Buhari last Friday caused a stir when he asked Nigerians hurt by his policies for a pardon.
Buhari tendered what seemed like a genuine apology while hosting the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja community, to his last Sallah celebration as President, at the Presidential Villa.
While thanking citizens for “tolerating” his eight-year regime, Buhari described himself as a lucky and fulfilled politician, recounting how he served as military governor, Minister of Petroleum Resources, and Head of State.
“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 a 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 I hurt some people, and I wish you will pardon me. And those that think that I have hurt them so much, please pardon me,” he said.
His apology has attracted a wide range of reactions from Nigerians.
Veteran Nigerian singer, Charles Oputa, widely known as Charly Boy, knocked Buhari for seeking forgiveness after “deliberately mismanaging” the country for eight years.
Charly Boy, in a tweet, said that the country in the last eight years had been intentionally and deliberately mismanaged under Buhari’s watch and the All Progressives Congress, APC, cabals with impunity and intensity.
Omoyole Sowore, who was the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, in just concluded the 2023 general election, also said the President’s apology should be rejected.
Sowore said the president did not only hurt Nigeria but dehumanised citizens of the country with some unfavourable policies.
“You 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,” Sowore said via a tweet.
Reacting to the development, the Middle Belt Forum, (MBF), claimed the ‘only thing’ that can make Nigerians forgive President Buhari would be if he corrected the wrongs done by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“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,” the national president of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu said.
Also reacting, elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai said all Nigerians wanted was for Buhari to go so that the myriads of problems facing the country could be addressed.
Meanwhile, some other Nigerians who spoke to DAILY POST also expressed mixed reactions to Buhari’s plea for forgiveness.
Bello Bello, a food item vendor at the Kubwa central market, said he was uninterested with the President’s apology as he was only worried with how he could make more sales to sustain his business.
”Nothing concerns me with his apology. I want to sell more in the market and make money,” he said.
”Is it after he had subjected Nigerians to hardship and hunger, then he remembered there is something like forgiveness? It is left between him and his God,” Mrs Caroline Mathew responded when asked about her opinion.
However, Okpokwu Ogenyi, Convener, Concerned All Progressives Congress, APC, Members and Civil Society Directorate, told DAILY POST in an interview that President Buhari’s apology was a welcome development.
Ogenyi said it would not have been possible for the President to govern without stepping on toes in his quest to bring good governance to the country.
He urged Nigerians to see the apology in good light, insisting the President did not intentionally mean any harm to any individual or group of persons.
He said, ”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.
”It is just like childhood; the parents correct and chastise children, and you will never know that these parents are trying to do you good. You will hate them for what they do, but when you grow old, you begin to see what and what they have done to pass you through to the stage where you are.”
Meanwhile, Onyebuchi Igboke, the Project Manager of Advocacy Partnership for Good Governance and Convener, Office of the Citizens, disagreed that the apology was a good one.
Igboke told DAILY POST that he believed the President knew what he was doing, arguing that he might have deliberately preplanned doing certain things.
He said Buhari knew that most Nigerians were not happy with him, especially with the outcome of the general elections in Nigeria, pointing to the number of petitions in the election tribunal across the country, which he described as the highest in the nation’s history.
The good governance activist said that the number of petitions received indicated that something was wrong with the outcome of the 2023 general election.
He said, ”That really shows that, consciously or unconsciously, the President knew exactly what he was doing. So, most of the things he did not do right, he knew that at a certain time, he would probably seek forgiveness.
“It is quite unfortunate because we all, especially from the civil society perspective, expected him to at least end well, after all his wrongdoings, impunity, economic crisis, long ASUU strike, a whole lot of things did not work well.
“We faced hardship. Everybody was patiently waiting for the President to at least keep to his promise of giving us a credible, fair and transparent election come 2023.
“But what we witnessed during the just concluded election was as if Nigeria went five times backwards from where we already got to. The President may have deliberately preplanned doing certain things so that, in the end, he would come up with a defence by saying ‘I am sorry if I have wronged Nigerians’.
”The President knows that the majority of people are not happy with him, especially with the outcome of the general elections in Nigeria.
“Nevertheless, we expected him to even make amends. Olusegun Obasanjo wrote him a letter during the collation of the presidential election for him to look into the iREV and look at the concerns, and even take like two weeks, which is also in the electoral act, to review the entire process.
”We are seeing now that people do not feel like their votes count. If the whole thing was transparent, credible and fair, If you lose, you just know you lost the election on the fairground; there would be no room for all these legal battles.
“Look at the number of petitions in the election tribunal across the country; this is the worst. This is the highest number of petitions we have received, which indicates that something was wrong with the outcome of the 2023 general election and people were disappointed because even Buhari was a victim of a bad electoral process in the past.”
He added, ”So saying they should forgive him or not forgive him, for me, does not change anything. And he also brought strong division in this country. The way he was making some comments, you remember when he said about a ‘’dot in the circle’ referring to the South Easterners.
”Even with the illegal way they treat the issue of IPOB, it looks as if he favours a particular region more than the other, which is supposed not to be; he is supposed to be the father of every citizen or region in this country. Anybody that comes into power should not just allow people to pass through hardship; at the end, you just begin to say people should forgive you.”