• Saturday, September 30, 2023
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Mistrust may hurt our economic well-being in 2021 and beyond

Mistrust may hurt our economic well-being in 2021 and beyond

Happy new year to all my respected readers. At the beginning of the year 2020, most people globally thought that it was going to be a happy, healthy and prosperous year for them. But the year was lost as about 40 countries – industrialized, developed and less developed – including Nigeria ran into recession. Most people did not know that a killer virus later branded as COVID-19 was ravaging humanity globally since December 2019.

From a deadly pandemic to a global movement for racial justice in the USA and some parts of the world to political turmoil in others, the year 2020 has had its fair share of world–shifting events. We will not easily forget the #EndSARS protest and its devastating consequences on lives and properties in the country. The year 2020 was arguably the most challenging year in recent time that tested human resolve like no other. But we are triumphant! Thank goodness, that we triumphed over most challenges in 2020.

Private investors need to have trust in government by having a positive perception about the actions of those appointed or elected to serve in office

Nigeria’s challenges notwithstanding, it is the most populous country in Africa with a population of over 200 million people, and it is the largest economy in the continent. Many analysts have seen Nigeria as a country with potential for greatness – a description that has persisted for more than 60 years. There are many reasons for this optimism, if you ask me: Largest population in Africa; largest crude oil producer in Africa; emerging market by the World Bank standard; a regional power in Africa; a middle power in the international arena.

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Despite these reasons for optimism, one’s enthusiasm for economic growth remains largely unfulfilled because Nigeria is currently the poverty capital of the world with an inflation rate of about 14.89 percent (year-on-year) as food inflation spikes. The country has over 100 million poor people. Many Nigerians are miserable and frustrated. As we write, the country is in a recession.

The recession is the second in 5 years. Nigeria has chronic security challenges across the length and breadth of the country. With all these problems, growth in Nigeria has been stalled as poverty reduction measures remain sluggish. A lot of political analysts say that “nothing is working.” Anyway, this is debatable.

It appears to me that state officials who tell lies do not know that lying and mistrust could hurt Nigeria’s economy. For instance, Nigerian scholars and analysts know that there is food insecurity in the country, which they have brought to the attention of those in government. But some state officials at the highest level of government told us that there is no food shortage in the country. This was after the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) which is an organ of the United Nations said that about “seven million Nigerians will experience food shortage between June and August 2020 as 16 northern states including the Federal Capital Territory were identified to face food and nutrition crisis.” We were informed by those in power that Nigeria has food security and that it is a prosperous country in the year 2020. Where is the prosperity in a nation labeled the poverty capital of the world? It was very disappointing. Once the culture of lying has been developed at the highest circles of government, citizens will start having negative perception about the actions and utterances of their government.

That was not the first time that citizens will have negative perception about their government. It has happened severally in the past and it is a recurring decimal. One thing that must be stressed in this article is that it is not the actual performance of government but its perceived performance that matter for trust in government. So, those in authority need to understand that generally, trust in government builds on two main components namely, social trust which represents citizens’ confidence in their social community; and political trust when citizens appraise government and its institutions. The fabrics of social community in most parts of the country is threatened by insecurity while government institutions are very weak with corruption.

Yet, Nigeria needs investment and infrastructure. Private investors need to have trust in government by having a positive perception about the actions of those appointed or elected to serve in office. Businesses cannot plan effectively when the owners do not know who or what can be trusted from government. We are in a country where one has to do background check to confirm if what has been said by a state official is true or false. But how do we distinguish between what is true and false? Aristotle is of the view that to speak truly is “to say of what is that it is, or of what is not that it is not.” Whereas to speak falsely is “to say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is.”

Why do state officials tell lies or use abusive expressions when citizens complain or raise observations about some issues that impact negatively on national security? I just observed in the past few years that people can think of all kinds of reasons to justify the lies on their lives. Many people, according to an associate, build their lives and businesses around lies. If they are confronted after lying, they will tell you all sorts of stories. They may explain to you why lying is a necessary evil in our society.

In fact, it seems that lying is gradually becoming fashionable in our society. Some state officials are convinced beyond measure that lying is expedient – even mandatory- to be able to remain in elected or appointed offices in order to make a living in this world. So, we have disjointed information from state officials who should educate us about the happenings in the government.

But must a public official really lie to remain in office and perhaps, make it in this world? The international community is laughing at us. In the interim, it would be helpful if state officials avoid demonizing more than 200 million Nigerians outside the government, and show that we share with them a faith in our ultimate responsibility to Nigeria. If we can retain our basic values and retrace our steps, it would be better for the image of our country, we would be happier and more successful as a country in the new year and beyond. Welcome to 2021 and have an amazing new year. Thank you.