The prayer of forgiveness made to the Jewish God is desirable because of the beneficial reciprocity therein. Forgiveness remains constant in human relations, as infractions are latent to human fallibility! This is as deliberate hurts from some are products of the selfishness common to a materially capitalistic dispensation. To forgive is to pardon or waive a negative feeling or desire for punishment. Psychologically speaking, forgiveness is believed to be an intentional and voluntary process by which one with previous hurtful feeling of wrong experiences a change in feeling and attitude regarding the offense and the offender.
The psychological change in feelings is conscious, deliberate and devoid of resentment or vengeful dispositions towards the offender, whether such forgiveness is solicited or not. It is for this reason that Mahatma Gandhi sees forgiveness as the attribute of the strong, even when such a compliment is merely attributably compensatory.
‘Forgive and forget’ has for long being a dubious aphorism among people that hold that ‘life is an adventure of forgiveness’. Dispatching forgiveness is believed to be psychologically and spiritually efficiently therapeutic, as it eliminates corrosive medical conditions and pave the way for seamless dealings with God. In quest of a better society, forgiveness has been peddled as a centrifugal force to achieve peaceful human cohabitation, particularly in a racially-divided country like South Africa, which continues to desperately make the best out of the despicable apartheid past of maiming, ruins, and organised killings. Little wonder that the push for post-apartheid nationhood produced the Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) where buried past of atrocities were excavated, victims told the truth, and the offenders secured relief, even when such forgiveness was awarded by the representative of the state, in total disregard for the resentful feelings of victims. Like a drama character quipped, the new black-led order and establishment could have forgiven the agents of the white-dominated apartheid regime, but the victims largely continue to hurt, denied of needed compensation.
Amidst growing mistrusts and hankerings in Nigeria, the ideal of forgiveness was brought into national consciousness recently by Archbishop Sam Zuga, the enterprising envoy of digital economy, using Sam Zuga Foundation, who prescribed for Nigerians a ‘National Day of Forgiveness’, with the theme: ‘I Forgive You and Myself’. Zuga attempted to rally Nigerians to come together, bury bitterness and anger, forgive one another and seek the face of God. Relying on the significance of paradox, he posited that anyone that is not part of the solution of the challenges in the country is part of the problem, and therefore harped on the need to end the blame-game, face reality and do the needful! However commendable Zuga’s initiative is, it has been dwarfed by the economic hiatus confronting the country, and the political bickering that heralded the rat-race for political positions at different levels in 2023.
The once reclusive and evasive Nigeria First Lady, Aisha Buhari, who withdrew to her shells following the disruptive tight hold of the Aso Rock Cabals on her husband, announced her return from the pilgrimage to United Arab Emirates with her rumoured influence on her husband in relation to which candidate to support, and her physical attendance at the APC presidential primary. It is noteworthy that the hermit in Aisha was deconstructed in 2014 as part of the efforts to configure Buhari as a liberalised personality and born-again democrat, who could be used to upstage the then lacklustre government of Jonathan that was systematically undermined within his political party, the PDP, to achieve power-shift. Aisha’s outbursts very lately, particularly her alleged request for the forgiveness of Nigerians for her husband’s ‘failure in progressing the nation’s economy having spent almost eight years in office’, resonate how socio-cultural and psychological ethos are continuously used to bait unsuspecting people. Aisha was said to have made the prayer of forgiveness at a special Juma’at service and public lecture to celebrate the nation’s 62nd independence anniversary, held at the National Mosque Conference Hall in Abuja.
Another ‘ozzer room’ deep conversation was brought to the open by Aisha, not too long after, when she told the world that PMB suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as a result of his having fought in the Civil War; his being overthrown as military Head of State, and subsequent detention for 40 months without being charged for any offence; and contesting to be the president of Nigeria and failing in 2003, 2007 and 2011. She submitted that she was affected by the conditions of her husband in those instances. Aisha did not fail to inform us that she assumed these tough roles at age 19, and her wellness dexterity helped her to cope with the challenges, even though she was culturally inscribed and religiously circumscribed as well. These ‘confessions of a First Lady’ are as instructive as the one in the past when she accused the government of her husband of neglecting those who worked for the party, but instead patronised ‘strangers’.
One wonders while Aisha chose to tell us the truths about her husband psychological condition very late, leaving Nigerians to wonder, for most of the almost eight-year regime, the kind of president they elected in PMB. PTSD is a mental health condition that impairs the daily functionality of an individual. It results from the inability of the brain to process a traumatic event. PTSD provokes nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety and withdrawal (depressed mood), with the symptoms grouping including: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical as well as emotional reactions. Treatable by a medical professional, the treatment include psychotherapy and medications, with which to manage the symptoms. While Aisha was quoted to have become a physiotherapist in order to manage the husband, she was not emphatic on whether she succeeded in the management of her domestic patient, whereas what was needed more was a psychotherapist!
Apart from the Spartan lifestyle PMB was known for since his military days, his attitudes to national issues, particularly negative ones, have been substantially that of dissociation/withdrawal, damning changes in physical and emotional reactions, fixations on opinions, and disjunctive appraisal of circumstances. One wonders what would have happened if PMB did not get the medical rehabilitation that took him away for many months, at a time the Queen was still mothering the King! It is understandable that Nigerians have been told to be wary of electing a sick president in 2023, just that human fallibility is as constant as the east wind!
We need to forgive both Aisha and PMB for the troubles caused by PTSD, just as done by Lara Kudayisi, a Matchmaker and relationship coach, who acknowledged that she had forgiven men who made her abort 15 pregnancies. Emphasising the place of coaches and therapists, she underscored the need for people to be free, happy, and relate to their experiences in a productive manner, and get closure from the traumatic past that should ordinarily cage them. Like Aisha, Lara is a victim of the erratic construct in marital relationships, but takes every of her untoward experience as a stride to advance her profession as a coach and therapist; making success of failure! Nevertheless, absolute dissociation from one’s actions negates accountability and breeds irresponsibility, as is the case with public officials in Nigeria.
Aisha’s request for forgiveness for the management of the economy by PMB’s government is tantamount to attesting to the pauperisation and traumatisation of the entire citizens. The receding economy keeps expanding the poverty lines, while climate change that matters little to an average Nigerian is devastating the land and the people, as crops, animals and humans are swept off by floods. The myth of the PTSD of PMB and the generosity of Lara Kudayisi doubly but paradoxically encase the personifications and traumatisation of most Nigerians, who are evidently suffering from psychosocial disruptions and disorder. This is arguable because of the abnormal or violent social behaviours, which is symptomatic of chronic mental disorder, traceable to many Nigerians.
As we look forward to more ‘homilies’ from Aisha, we should consider granting her request for forgiveness, with PMB first forgiving the unforgivable like Lara Kudayisi in the human agencies and circumstances that traumatised him, as Nigerians would forgive one another for both deliberate and inadvertent hurts, beyond the signposts of elitist rapprochements, to tame recriminations and vengeful feelings, and avoid remaining psychopaths in a troubling world.