Growing discontent may worsen pervasive trust deficiency among citizens

Mon, Jun 17, 2024
By editor

Featured, Politics

Although some stakeholders have traced some of the root causes of the pervasive trust deficiency in Nigeria to decades of corruption and mismanagement that have left scars of disillusionment on the country, breeding skepticism towards institutions and leaders alike. Unfortunately, the growing discontent in the country will no doubt worsen the trust deficit and the consequences on the nation’s economy as well as foreign investors’ confidence on Nigeria.

By Goddy Ikeh

THE widespread discontent among various segments of the Nigerian population may likely worsen the huge trust deficit between the citizens and political leaders in the country and the consequences are indeed enormous.

Perhaps, the officials doling out the anti-people policies may be believing that doing the same things for decades will bring about different results. In the last 12 months of the current administration, Nigerians have been contending with policy summersaults, anti-people policies, widespread insecurity, poverty, multiple taxation, national minimum wage issues and harsh economic environment.

This pervading situation has not gone without attracting comments and reactions from concerned Nigerians. For instance, Ibrahim Shelleng, a business development consultant and chartered stockbroker said recently that the journey to rebuilding trust in Nigeria would not be easy. “It requires sustained effort, unwavering commitment and a willingness to confront uncomfortable realities,” he said.

Speaking on how lack of trust stifles Nigeria’s economic potential, he noted that rebuilding trust is not a one-dimensional task, but a collective endeavour that requires commitment from the government, businesses and the civil society.

“As we strive to navigate the challenges of the global economy, restoring trust is not just a moral imperative, but a strategic necessity for Nigeria’s sustainable growth and prosperity. It is time to mend the frayed fabric of trust and weave a narrative of a business-friendly Nigeria that beckons investors, fosters innovation and ensures shared prosperity for all,” the report by Premium Times quoted Shelleng as saying.

According to him, Nigeria, a nation pulsating with the entrepreneurial spirit and brimming with abundant resources, keeps stumbling upon a hidden hurdle – a seemingly intangible but deeply entrenched obstacle: the lack of trust. This pervasive atmosphere of suspicion, like a noxious weed, chokes the soil of our business environment, hindering growth and prosperity. To truly unlock the potential of our country, we must confront this issue head-on, understanding its insidious effects and fostering a culture of trust-based collaborations.

For Shelleng, trust is the bedrock upon which successful businesses are built. It is the currency of transactions, the lubricant of partnerships, and the cornerstone of investor confidence. The roots of the pervasive Nigerian trust deficiency lie in a complex web of historical experiences and contemporary realities. Decades of corruption and mismanagement have left scars of disillusionment on Nigerians and the country, breeding skepticism towards institutions and actors alike.

“Weak enforcement of laws further erodes confidence, fostering a sense of impunity and encouraging opportunistic behaviour. Information asymmetry, where access to vital knowledge is unevenly distributed, amplifies anxieties, breeding suspicion and hindering fair competition. These elements have created an environment in which cynicism thrives, hindering both local and foreign investments,” he added.

Reacting to the state of affairs in the country, especially the ongoing national minimum wage issue with the federal government, Theophilus Ndubuaku, Head of the political wing of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, accused the federal government of lack of transparency and inclusivity on issues of national welfare, especially the issue of the new minimum wage.

Ndubuaku, who spoke with ARISE News recently, highlighted the importance of an inclusive government that prioritizes national welfare over secretive decision-making.

“We need an inclusive government and not a secret organization or society,” he said.

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, also reacted to the state of despondency in the country, saying that the alleged deceit within the federal government led by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, for driving Nigerians further into poverty.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, the party said: “The PDP asserts that the scandalous revelation that the President Bola Tinubu-led All Progressives Congress administration is secretly paying a whopping N5.4 trillion as fuel subsidy for 2024, even after the president announced an end to fuel subvention further confirms PDP’s stand that the APC administration is a cesspit of corruption, lies and deceit.

“Nigerians can recall how APC leaders, in their characteristic manner, tried to divert public attention when the PDP earlier alerted of this fraudulent act in a statement on May 28, 2024.

“This revelation by Wale Edun, after a series of denials by the APC leaders and government officials, validates the axiom that no matter how long lies appear to thrive, the truth, like the sun, will always prevail.

“Is it not provocative and an act of extreme insensitivity that while our nation is suffering from grave infrastructural decay and millions of Nigerians subjected to punishing hardship, acute poverty, life of misery and utter despondency by the removal of subsidy without cushioning measures, a staggering N5.4tn, in the name of fuel subsidy, is reportedly being cornered by corrupt APC leaders?”

The PDP called on Tinubu to promptly clarify the situation by addressing the nation and initiating a public inquiry into the reported N5.4tn fuel subsidy in his administration.

“Nigerians deserve to know: Where is the N5.4tn being taken from? Which agency of government is responsible for the payment of the said fuel subsidy and to who? What are the criteria used for payment? What volume of fuel is being subsidised and at what cost? Why is petrol still selling exorbitantly even with the revelation of the continuing payment of fuel subsidy? These are questions that need to be answered.

“The PDP demands that President Tinubu immediately clears the air and come clean by personally addressing Nigerians and ordering a public enquiry into the reported N5.4tn fuel subsidy under his watch.

“President Tinubu should immediately review his economic team to get capable hands and check the corruption prevalent in the administration,” the party said.

In the same vein, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, Chairman, Advisory Board & Board of Directors, Africa Private Sector Summit, APSS, and former Deputy Governor Central Bank of Nigeria at the Leadership Newspaper Group 2024 Conference and Awards in March 2024, reminded Nigerians that “Every choice we make has consequences; but we have no choice over the combined consequences of the choices we have made” – Anonymous.

Speaking on Nigeria’s Distressed Economy: Which Way Forward? he said: “Nigeria’s economy today is, to use the title of the classic novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Will there be a resurrection? I believe so, but only if we fix the Fundamentals. There is nothing that is happening today – hyperinflation, the crisis of the value of the Naira, debt distress and the revenue challenge, unemployment, and extreme poverty etc – that should surprise any thinking citizen or professional observer of how our country’s economy has been mismanaged for a long time. Choices have consequences: there is hunger and anger in the land.

“The past 10 years were particularly ruinous. They were the years of the locust, marked by unprecedented mismanagement of fiscal policy, unproductive external borrowing, unnecessary budget deficits, illegal Ways & Means lending by the Central Bank of Nigeria to the federal government to the tune of N30 trillion, and unprecedented corruption. Earlier, a combination of oil price shocks and an incompetent policy response from the CBN, in the form of an attempt to fix the exchange rate, all helped give us two recessions within seven years. Many of these things happened because, as we witnessed, there was a successful political assault on the independence of the central bank, with the storekeeper willingly handing over the store keys to the marauders.”

However, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, is not left out as the chamber has expressed deep concern on the state of the country and specifically the performance of the Nigerian solid minerals sector.

It noted that the Nigerian mining industry has recorded low performance in the last two quarters. And according to the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, the Mining & Quarrying sector contributed 4.47% to the overall GDP in the fourth quarter of 2023, lower than the contributions recorded in 2022 fourth quarter at 4.51% and lower than the previous quarter at 8.32%.

In a statement, the LCCI said that despite its immense potential, the mining sector had been hampered by many obstacles, including inadequate infrastructure, regulatory inconsistencies, limited access to financing and security concerns in mining locations. These challenges, according to the chamber, have collectively contributed to stifling growth, deterring investments, and impeding the sector’s ability to fulfill its role as a catalyst for industrialization.

Despite Nigeria’s enormous mineral resources, the minerals sector is not a major engine of economic growth and receives little investment. The sector produces less than 0.5% of GDP with limited value chain in the economy. Nigeria’s solid minerals are exported with little or no value added. While Nigeria intends to capitalize on the mining sector’s potential, it faces numerous challenges in mineral beneficiation and value addition.

These regulatory and legal challenges include inconsistent policies, unclear land tenures, and issues between Federal and State Governments, particularly in the collection of royalties and taxes from licensed miners operating in their domains.

“We urge the government to review the mining industry strategy to attract mineral exploration investments, reignite mining project development, accelerate new mineral discoveries, and encourage optimal utilization of Nigerian mineral resources in line with the Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance, ESG, principles for sustainable growth. Furthermore, we urge the government to address the sector’s funding issues and enable enhanced access to finance for processing value-added minerals based products by establishing seed funds and special incentives to attract foreign and domestic investors,” the LCCI said.

In addition, the latest poll by the Africa Polling Institute, API, has scored the first year of the Tinubu’s administration very low.

The score from the survey on the first one year of the administration of President Tinubu, who is still trying to figure out the best way of handling the demand for a review of the national minimum wage by the labour unions and managing the nation’s problematic economy.

The API in its survey stated that hunger, poverty and dissatisfaction are the harsh realities of Nigerians, as an overwhelming majority of citizens (84%) expressed profound sadness with the current state of affairs in the country.

The survey, released on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, said that 81% of respondents felt that the country was headed in the wrong direction, while 36% complain about growing hunger, 28% about the inability to meet basic needs, 13% focus on unemployment, 9% on heightened insecurity while 5% say acute electricity shortage is one of the biggest challenges they face personally.

“In addition, a staggering 74% of citizens affirmed that their personal economic situation has deteriorated over the last year, compared to 20% who said their personal economic situation had remained the same and a mere 5% who said it had improved,” the survey indicates.

The national survey, according to the API, was administered between May 1 and 18, 2024, to elicit citizens’ opinions and assessments of President Bola Tinubu’s first year in charge and that it was conducted using a stratified random sampling method, ensuring representation from all nationwide demographic groups.

It explained that a total of 3,996 citizens were interviewed, providing a robust and diverse dataset for analysis.

Furthermore, in terms of the job performance of President Tinubu, a significant 78% of citizens say he had performed abysmally, with 49% rate him “very poor” while 29% say grade him as “poor.”

This widespread dissatisfaction also extends to the performance of other arms of government, as a striking 81% of citizens rate Senate President Godswill Akpabio dismally, compared to 79% who rate Tajudeen Abbas, Speaker of the House of Representatives, poorly.

Also, the Nigerian Judiciary under the CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, was not spared, as 75% of citizens also rate him poorly.

The API added that citizens were asked to assess the performance of President Tinubu’s cabinet in order to identify the performing and non-performing ministers.

“Interestingly, 68% of citizens think that none of the cabinet members had performed well since their appointments. However, 32% were willing to identify those they considered the top and least performing ministers,” the survey says.

The API survey refers to “a growing mass of aggrieved and discontented citizens nationwide, especially among the youth… Many are unemployed or underemployed and have become local crusaders and social activists in their communities, waiting for the slightest opportunity to vent their anger against fellow citizens and the Nigerian state.”

With the warning of the negative consequences of the growing mass of aggrieved and discontented citizens nationwide, especially among the youth and the poor scorecards from some stakeholders on the state of the nation, it is time to mend the frayed fabric of trust and weave a narrative of a business-friendly Nigeria that beckons investors, fosters innovation and ensures shared prosperity for all.

Perhaps, these can be achieved by prioritizing national welfare over secretive decision-making, truly unlocking the potential of the country and confronting the issues head-on, while understanding the insidious effects and fostering a culture of trust-based collaborations.


June 17, 2024 @ 11:36 GMT|