How Not To Apologise

Seun Igbalode Written by Seun Igbalode · 2 min read >

The inauguration ceremony of Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria as the fifth governor of Anambra State on Thursday, March 17 was overshadowed by the altercation between Mrs Bianca Ojukwu, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Spain and Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano, the wife of Willie Obiano, the immediate past governor of the state. In the case of Mrs Obiano, she was alleged to have taunted Mrs. Ojukwu who then hit her in response to her taunts and aggressiveness. A scuffle ensued and both women had to be separated.

On Monday, March 28, (11 days later), Hollywood superstar, Will Smith would assault ace comedian, Chris Rock at this year’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards popularly called The Oscars. In Will Smith’s case, he approached the stage and smacked Chris Rock across the face after the comedian made fun of his wife’s hair loss condition.  In perhaps an antithetical moment, Will Smith would pick up the award for the Best Male Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams in the movie, King Richard.    

The events were so similar that many Nigerians jokingly drew parallels from both situations. Mrs. Ojukwu trended for a while on Twitter in Nigeria, with many netizens jokingly starting a trend and influencing Will Smith’s aggression.

The principal characters in both cases have since apologised for their respective conduct in both episodes. Will Smith’s apology has been three-fold. First was his teary acceptance speech on his win, apologising for his conduct and for robbing the biggest movie awards show of its shine. He would apologise to Chris Rock, his ‘victim’ the following day. A day later, he would resign his membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board, even though the board is still deliberating on the appropriate consequences for his actions.

Mrs. Obiano has also offered her apologies. Despite both Ms Obiano and Mr. Smith offering apologies for their conduct, their apologies have been questioned for being an afterthought. Mr Smith not apologising to Chris Rock on stage during his acceptance speech has been interpreted to mean he was not truly sorry in some quarters.

Mrs. Obiano’s apology is however a classic example of how not to offer apologies. In one breath, she was apologising for her conduct, in another breath, she was making her ambition to become a senator known.

Apologies connote remorse. The Cambridge dictionary defines an apology thus, “To tell someone that you are sorry for something that has caused inconvenience or unhappiness.” defines it as “acknowledging shortfalls or shortcomings or failings.” It has also been defined as expressing regret for wrongdoing.                            

In deconstructing her apology, the first step would be the timing. In Mrs Obiano’s case, it simply took too long for her to apologise. Mrs. Ojukwu had stated her side of the story of the ruckus between her and Mrs Obiano. Perhaps Mrs Obiano would have offered her apologies the very next day Mrs. Ojukwu spoke.

What however would further cast a shadow over Mrs Obiano’s apology is her coincidental declaration to contest the Senatorial seat. It is making it look like she would not have come out to apologise if she did not have a political ambition. Only time will tell if her political voyage will be successful.  

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