Virtue of forgiveness and reconciliation – By Atiku Abubakar

No Comments » January 29th, 2009 posted by // Categories: Nigeriawatch



 

THE GUARDIAN

1/29/2009

Virtue of forgiveness and reconciliationBy Atiku Abubakar

EVER since my recent visit to Abeokuta to reconcile with my former boss, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, there has been an incredible floodgate of reactions from my friends, political associates, newspaper columnists and other concerned Nigerians.

Many of them recalled the ordeals and humiliations I went through because of my opposition to the controversial third term agenda, including the attempt to jail me and scuttle my entire political career and ruin my future. It has also been argued that I have not been mindful of the sacrifices of my loyalists, former aides and other Nigerians who lost their lives, freedom, businesses and livelihoods simply for aligning with me.

With all humility, I have never lost sight of all these considerations. There have been hurts on both sides. I do not deny that sacrifices have been made and our dear country has paid dearly as a result of the crisis between the former President and myself. Despite everything that has happened, I sincerely believe that the time has come for us to move on. We cannot remain perpetually a hostage of the past.

Nigeria is bigger than all of us; we have all learnt some lessons from what happened. We have resolved to work with the current government to make Nigeria a great nation. This is what some of my critics have refused to understand. When emotions overtake our hearts, reason usually finds it hard to be heard.

In fact, this largely explains why I didn’t react immediately to the expressions of outrage, disappointment and perceived betrayal by concerned friends, political associates and other Nigerians. I appreciate their concern and concede that they have good reasons to express their reservations about the reconciliation. However, I believe that our dear country needs healing.

Forgiveness is one of the core principles of Islam,

Christianity and other religious beliefs. God who created us does forgive us despite our persistent sins and daily transgressions. Both Prophet Muhammad and Jesus Christ did forgive their enemies even in the face of extreme provocation and persecution. Therefore, the best tribute we can pay to them is to follow their examples of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace among people.

While not denying the fact that I was a victim of persecution, I must as a leader, demonstrate the virtue of forgiveness and encourage my supporters to imbibe the same principle. It is sometimes difficult for some people to forget the past. We can’t perpetually live in the past.

Forgiveness is one of the shiniest virtues a leader should exhibit and shouldn’t feel ashamed to do so.

In politics, people associate and come together, forge alliances to promote common interests or struggle to win power under a democratic process. The men and women who came together in 1998 to form the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were not always the best of friends. Some had been bitter political rivals who decided to work together for the good of their communities, states and the nation. Therefore, there is nothing unusual in former adversaries coming together in the pursuit of higher national interests. Not a few politicians today have found themselves in the same party with retired Generals who had put them in prison during military rule.

It does not make sense, therefore, to suggest that since politicians were victims of military dictatorships in the past they should hold soldiers permanently as enemies? Life is not static. I have resolved in this New Year to extend a hand of friendship to as many people as possible, including former political foes. I have resolved to rid my mind of negative emotions and to radiate positive aura towards all.

At 62, I have more years behind me than the years ahead. I do not want to spend the rest of my life brooding over old wounds and harbouring ill feelings towards anyone. I want to spend the rest of my life spreading joy, love and peace among people.

Therefore, my recent visit to former President Obasanjo shouldn’t be misconceived. As leaders, we must discard vindictive tendencies so as to leave a good example for our children and for posterity. In fact, nations occasionally go to war but eventually reconcile and even become partners in progress.

My visit to Abeokuta shouldn’t be perceived within the context of my political aspiration but should be viewed as a sincere effort to entrench the virtue of forgiveness and peace among leaders and their followers. I am yet to find any superior argument to convince me against the virtues of forgiveness and reconciliation. Parents sometimes fall out with their children, so do husbands and wives experience bitter disagreements. But eventually they must reconcile for the good of society.

We cannot discard a virtue, which God Himself exhorts us to practice. Can we build a better and prosperous nation when leaders don’t forgive one another? Can a nation prosper on the basis of permanent hostility and animosity among its leaders and people? Should we abandon the teachings of our religions in terms of forgiveness and peaceful co-existence for the sake of selfish pursuit of vengeance? There is a famous saying that “an eye for an eye” will make us all blind.

My peace mission to Abeokuta was not a self-serving political move as some critics have harshly put it. It was largely a reflection of my desire to strengthen social, family and political fabrics of the nation through forgiveness. Power comes from God; He gives it to whom He desires at the time of His choosing. It is God and the good people of Nigeria who will decide if they want me to serve this country in a higher capacity in future.

 

  • Alhaji Abubakar, (GCON), Turaki Adamawa, is former Vic President and Presidential candidate of the Action Congress in the 2007 elections.
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