Words are not the basis of trust. An aspect of trust is when one feels safe that
one person or groups of persons will not harm you. If you intend to leave some
of your property with me for safe keeping, (with or without reward) you should
be well-advised to rely on something more concrete than my words. Words are
usually effortless. But to be trustworthy may, in many cases, require half a
lifetime of effort. When thus someone builds reputation of trust, there is a
track record which can be referred to.
We are not more than two months into the new mandate given Nigerian politicians
to serve another four-year term. There is no politician in the current
dispensation that I can say I trust. And I am sure none of them needs my trust,
or is even bothered whether I trust him or her. They will govern whether there
is trust between me and them or not. If I am an individual, it may seem rational
that no sane politician would need to spend time reaching out to every
individual in his or her constituency. What is expected is that they should care
that they have satisfied the aspirations of the majority in their respective
Our need for trustworthy public officials has more to do with custody of
resources and judicious use of same. There ought to be a system whereby even if
a politician wants to be dishonest he or she could be prevented from doing so.
In Nigeria even if such system is in place, it has been corrupted. The civil
servant, who is appointed and not elected, is also a custodian of trust. He or
she is the one that ensures the continuity of governments. But the civil servant
had been, and may continue to be, unable to resist the dictate of the
politicians to collude and do evil.
Political parties, as we all know, are the platforms which politicians use to
get elected. Ordinary citizens may be asked to define their relationships with
their political parties. I have never been approached by any official of a
political party soliciting my vote or even trying to invite me to be a member of
their party. Thus I do not know any ward chairman of any of the fifty or even
sixty-plus parties that may be present in my ward. I have never set eyes on any
of the following people who happen to be governing the country I am a citizen
of: President Goodluck; Vice President Sambo; Senate President Mark; Speaker
Tambuwal; (or is it Mulikat?) the National chairman of PDP etc. Then on what
basis will I place trust in any of them?
If there had been a living, organic, party in place, and I or any other citizen
belongs to that party, then through my ward chapter I may communicate my
thoughts to the highest elected official governing the country on the platform
of that party. But the pain and suffering emanating from this absence of trust
is not limited to political office holders. There ought to be trust between me
and any security official that is on the payroll of the federal government of
Nigeria; a government to which I owe allegiance whether I like it or not. But
because of the configuration of Nigeria’s population, a security official may
see me as an enemy just because I do not belong to his region, tribe or
religion. Whatever the legal or illegal wrath that is sanctioned by practice to
be used by such security official will be unleashed on me due to reasons beyond
my control: my region, my tribe, my religion.
We also face the consequences stemming from abuse of trust even from
professionals. A medical practitioner who is operating privately may be more
interested in making money than in advising you on the cheapest way to solve
your health problems. He may easily prescribe surgery for you if his field is
surgery; because he stands to benefit if you pay the prescribed fees.
Nigerian contractors never consider the citizens as their clients. The ones they
see and relate with negatively, are the government officials who will collude
with them to short-change society. Therefore abandoned projects, sub-standard
works, are what we reap because there is no basis for trust between the
contractor and society.
The government in an enlightened society is the one that will balance the
interests of the various components of such society. It is the one that will
prescribe the required code of conduct for every member of that society who
happens to have one service or another to render to the society. But to be able
to do that requires that those who are governing are capable of being trusted.
As it is today, Nigerians are comfortable to be governed by those who are
incapable of being trustworthy. The rottenness that pervades society stems from
the fact that normal, sane members of society, live out their lives without
trusting one another. It is from this trust-barren cesspool that we produce
politicians, security agents, teachers, (those who at higher institutions level,
convert your daughters into concubines, otherwise they will not pass
examinations) doctors, architects, (in or outside politics) accountants, lawyers
and so on.
Ours is a primitive society.