Declining Public Trust In Governance

Sunday Onyemaechi Eze

Sunday Onyemaechi Eze

The impact of good governance in the country is abysmally low. The level of hardship, austerity and economic crunch is unimaginably high. No doubt, many live below the poverty line. There is already a general sense of apathy. The level of societal mistrust, contempt and indifference to government is now common. We have seen a direct shift from the decadent norm of governance to the catastrophic. There is a wide gulf between the leaders and the led. The dramatic arrival at the anti-climax in good governance and poor leadership gives no room other than the general public distrust and despondency.

According to Edward Olowookere, “the 2019 Nigeria Country Opinion Survey conducted by World Bank which asked respondents to what extent they trusted government to do what is right, produced a score of 5 out of 10 for both state government, the national  and the federal government.”

What drives good governance and the foundation upon which it stands is yet to assume a standard in Nigeria. Olowookere said; “it includes competence – whether an individual or institutions is perceived to be competent and have the capacity to deliver their commitment. Another is values – whether an individual or institutions is perceived to operate consistently within a set of values that demonstrate integrity, openess, and fairness – telling the truth, protecting citizens rights and improving lives of all citizens.”

It is an uncommon feat and something worthy to merry when government builds one kilometre road.  Drums are rolled out to celebrate poorly built asphalted access roads and provision of borehole for portable drinking water. Nigerians have not yet elected that government ready to change lives. The expectations of the people are grossly not met. The deliberate norm of imposing political leaders on the people comes with the catastrophic dearth of ideas in governance.

Over the years, government and those in positions of authority have woefully failed the citizenry. The failure to fulfill the leadership part of the social contract is a constant threat to citizens buy in to government policies. It is hard to trust, believe and build public confidence in a government that left its citizens as  preys to be constantly devoured by marauding bandits, kidnappers and terrorists. Most Nigerians have refused to identify with a government which failed to secure lives and properties. Leaders at all levels are clowns not to be taken seriously. They are perceived to be non-responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of the people. Citizens view them as as who they are: selfish, inconsiderate, self-centered leaders who rode on their mandate to power only to betray at the end.

Naturally, people tend to believe more of actions than words. Nigerians are no more fools and have come to the sad realisation and conclusion that those in position of authority plough more of their energies into only policies and programmes beneficial to them. The raging controversy surrounding the amendment of the Electoral Act has nothing to do with the general good of the people. The superemacy battle between the executive and the legislature is a selfish contest for political relevance and survival.

Rather than create more jobs; many have lost their means of livelihoods. Companies are leaving in droves or closing as cost of production of goods and services exponentially increase. We have chosen to remain a consuming nation despite our natural resources and human capital endowment. Consequently, the economy is lying prostrate.  As a result, the nation now depend on borrowing to run.

Victims of kidnappings and terrorism are languishing in the kidnappers den while leaders are vigorously campaigning for the 2023 general elections. There was no conscious and deliberate efforts made to release them and possibly bring to an end the menacing trend.

A gradual decline in public trust in governance is sure when Nigerians are dying in their numbers in the face of government cluelessness and inability to save lives?

ASUU strike has become a sore spot and a national embarrassment because children of our political leaders and policy makers rarely attend Nigerian public universities and other tertiary institutions.

Passengers plying Abuja-Kaduna road were left at the mercy of bandits and kidnappers for years because the policy makers can afford flights. They always quickly wade into matters that has direct bearing on their survival than what affects the general society.

The people are dislussioned or better still indifferent. They are aware that their votes never counted and will not count. They are aware that promises made during elections will not be kept. They are aware that government will not build schools and hospitals for the poor. They are aware that government will not build low cost houses for the poor to bridge the gap in housing. But their private estates spring up everywhere in the federal capital and cities in and outside the country. They are aware that awards for contracts to construct access roads will be given and mobilisation fee paid but nothing will happen. They are aware that the craze for leadership is not to serve all but to line the pockets of those who eventually find themselves at the helm. They are aware that nothing significantly will change.

The current crops of leaders have shown time and time again that they do not have the required wit, grit or magic wand to lift the country out of the current messy state of affairs.

The ugly situation has given birth to major societal problems ranging from Boko Haram, terrorism  banditry, kidnappings, yohoo yahoo and a host of others  through which people vent their anger. The monsterous creations are products of the accumulation of growing apathy and rising dissension.

Olowookere further offered solution to the trust based crisis thus: He said; ‘the best systematic approach is mainstreaming citizens engagement in the principles of transparency, accountability, and participation to build trust and legitmacy. This requires sharing information with citizens, offering opportunities to citizens to influence decisions, policies, budgets and government activities that affect them, and government accounting for or taking responsibility for their actions.”

Sunday Onyemaechi Eze, a Media and Development Communication Specialist, wrote via sunnyeze02@yhaoo.com and could be reached on 08060901201

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