WEEKEND ARENA

When government depletes its Trust Capital…

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No matter how one looks at it, trust is the most important factor in any relationship. Without it, all efforts would simply amount to ‘air leaking as one is patching’. The way a currency, like the dollar or naira would drive a transaction, is how trust drives a relationship. And just like a currency, one builds a capital with some effort and could have a credit or debit of trust in any relationship. Providence or grace could create an excessive credit of trust and it could also be blown overnight due to recklessness, and soon the person would find himself in the red, similar to a bank account, by which time he would be talking of ‘trust deficit’.

The naira is a mere paper in the strict sense of the word; what makes it acceptable for your goods, expertise or services is the trust you have in it that you can use it in exchange for other things you need. That is why one would accept it but turn down a beautifully designed card, even when it is lined with a gold-coloured surface, because nobody can take that beautiful card to the bank. For this reason a new, crispy N500 note does not have as much value as an old, rumpled N1000 note. One has more value, and even a seven year old in Nigeria today knows which one to choose when both are placed before him or her.

In reality, nothing depletes trust like failed promises. On the streets, it is called ‘promise and fail’. Everyone must carefully weigh his words before uttering them and desist from making empty promises like a man at the zenith of sexual stimulation, behind closed doors with an unwilling woman. You know why? Because those promises if left unfulfiled would someday count, like they are doing today with the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

Orgasmic about the great opportunity to grab power in 2015, so many promises had been made to Nigerians to consolidate the chances of the party at the polls. Nigerians were told that a retired General needed to be on the saddle in order to rescue the abducted Chibok Girls. It sounded plausible, because soldiers are better positioned to fight insurgency, but today we have more than the Chibok Girls to contend with but Leah Sharibu, whom news stories, earlier in the week said was pregnant with her second baby for her ‘enemies’, as well as a host of other female abductees.  Respected Professor of Virolgy, and former Minister of Petroleum, Late Tam David West was attributed to have said that fuel would sell at less than N46 and so many of us, jumped up excitedly. When it appeared the promises were working magic in building trust credit towards that election, everyone in the APC camp turned to a ‘promising machine’. Some said the naira was going to be at par in value with the dollar. Some said rice was going to sell at N4k. Some said social security net would be broadened to accommodate all the unemployed graduates, who did not have jobs. Some said there would be electricity 24-7. A few Nigerians who managed to inquire where the government would get funds to prosecute all these lofty plans were told by Alhaji Lai Mohammed that the answer was in plugging corruption. On a number of occasions, he reiterated this on TV, albeit convincingly.

Things have changed today. Ardent supporters would insist that corruption is being plugged, but it is yet to rub off positively on the citizens: inflation, unemployment, misery and insecurity have almost doubled in dimension in the past six years, and do not seem surmountable in the near future.  As a face-saving measure, we have been told all sorts as regards the origin of those promises. The fundamental one has been that it never dropped from the President’s mouth, so he cannot be held liable for promises made by others on his behalf.

Assuming this was true by any stretch of imagination what cannot easily be eroded is the trust deficit that has accumulated on account of this. Increasingly, Nigerians have lost confidence and trust in the leaders and the general impression is that everyone seeks political office to feather his nest. One cannot blame them with the humongous monies being reportedly misappropriated on daily basis. This lack of trust has led a lot of Nigerians into believing that COVID-19 was never detected in Nigeria and that those figures being reeled out by the NCDC are contrived. Today, many say they will not receive the COVID-19 vaccine, because they are in doubt that it was what public officials like the President and his Vice actually received. Some Nigerians can hit their chests that they have been receiving multivitamins and want them poisoned with the vaccine! Lack of trust is the reason why in spite of repeated assurances that there is enough petrol that would last for three months, people would still hoard the product in anticipation of an imminent hike in April. All these are fallouts of prolonged breach of trust.  In fact, the government is in the same dilemma with a cheating spouse caught in the act. ‘It Wasn’t Me’ that popular song by Shaggy, cannot help the matter sef.