Sunday, 6 March 2016


Barrister Dr. Jimoh Ibrahim, CFR
Who can be trusted in Nigeria? Do the people trust the government? And does the government trust the people to perform their civic responsibilities? Where is trust? When did we lose it? And when will it come back to our national lives? Can the electorate trust the politicians and can the politicians trust the electorate for one more vote? Can the private sector trust the government and can the government trust the private sector? Do workers trust their employers and do employers trust their workers? Can the church trust their members to be Christ-like? Can church members be trusted with issues of praxis of behaviour and holiness? And do members trust the church? Can they trust that there is any benefit in giving their tithes and offerings?

Even in matrimonial issues, trust plays high. The pertinent question here is: Can spouses trust one another in their agreed covenant of holy matrimony? Does the wife trust the husband or is she just playing along? And can the husband trust the wife? Who can say with certainty that all is well with trust? What is trust? Certainly an expected, irretraceable commitment between two people to the performance of an act. Trust flows from the people to the government, such that men and women who constitute government can be trusted to use the tax paid by citizens to provide social service delivery at all levels.

Commitment flows from government to the people that government will protect them in peace and in crises. Commitment flows from the employee to the employer that, for instance, if I work for you until the age of retirement, and I so work faithfully without stealing, you are committed to the payment of my pension continuously and forever. The question is: Who is working faithfully without taking bribe and stealing in Nigeria today? Who is working without making provision for his tomorrow as if the pension will not come? If you are not working faithfully, then you need no reward! There may be reason why you are not working faithfully, but you have paid yourself by breaching the trust, the commitment.

The pyramid of trust flows from people to authority, and where there is no trust, there is no law. Government spends a lot of time and resources on enforcement of laws which ordinarily should be voluntarily complied with. In such situation, the judiciary will work more and the prison will demand more resources to feed convicted persons. What developed countries enjoy today is that high level of trust from the citizen. When the government is not performing, there are established limitations to noncompliance with laws and non-implementation of the commitment to trust. Developing countries can only make impact if governments start to work on how to bring back the lost trust between citizens and government.

For how much can anyone trust government on wicked problems such as lack of employment, deficit balance of payment, insurgency, respect for rule of law, and protection of citizens and their properties? The level of loyalty that government expects from us is measured by how much we can trust government. And without citizen loyalty, government has no place to draw down legitimacy, especially in times of need. What went wrong is the collapse of the pyramid of trust. No one trusts the other. This needs to be arrested immediately if we are to move the nation forward. We must borrow from the Swedish government before things go irredeemably bad!  There is clear evidence that it is not only individuals that can fail. Nations do fail! Now, who is that individual that can succeed in a failed nation? (National Mirror)