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2020 Edelman survey shows Nigerians still distrust government, but trust CEOs

The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer has revealed that, of the four mainstream institutions of government, business, media and non-governmental organisations, government remains the least trusted with Nigerians having no confidence in the ability of current leaders to address the country’s challenges successfully.

Conversely, Nigerians’ trust in Chief Executive Officers of businesses as positive change agents rose while trust in NGOs and the media also increased according to the supplementary data for Nigeria. It showed that while trust across the four mainstream institutions in the country increased compared to 2019, business still led with 91 percent, followed by NGOs with 87 percent. The media was the third with 84 percent while government had only 55 percent.

These revelations, amongst others, were contained in the 20th Edelman Trust Barometer Survey Report unveiled virtually by Edelman and its Exclusive Nigerian Affiliate, Chain Reactions Nigeria in Lagos  recently.

The presentation, done virtually because of disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, saw the Chief Executive Officer of Edelman Africa, Jordan Rittenberry, present the global 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer and the Impact of COVID-19 on Trust reports. Adekunle Dixon Odukoya, a consultant at Chain Reactions, presented the supplementary data for Nigeria.

Commenting on the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer report, Managing Director/Chief Strategist, Chain Reactions Nigeria, Israel Jaiye Opayemi, noted that since 2017 when the report was first unveiled in Nigeria, major corporate players have always looked forward to its release because they draw significant insight from it to grow the asset of their reputation.

An all-female panel drawn from government, media, business and civil society also discussed the survey report and its implications for their respective constituencies and Nigeria at large, in line with the theme, “Competence and Ethics.”

They were the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Protection, Maryam Uwais; Director, Public Affairs, Lafarge Plc, Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, Director of News, TVC, Stella Din Jacob, and the Convener, Enough is Enough, Yemi Adamolekun. Former Assistant Director of Programmes, Lagos Operations of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Funke Treasure-Durodola, moderated.

Revealing how public officials can boost their trust among Nigerians, Uwais said it was vital they bring transparency into their activities and remain consistent.

The former Coordinator of the Social Invest Programmes (SIP) further cited the example of how she addressed the complaints that trailed the Conditional Cash Transfer and School Feeding Programme transparently by engaging Civil Societies to monitor as what public officials can do to earn public trust.

On the proliferation of fake news and its weaponization contributing to mistrust of the media, Din Jacobs, citing the Ibrahim Magu issue, said government officials hoarding information and vested interests is not helping matters. She advised media practitioners to imbibe balance in their reportage as that is what can buy them trust from the public.

On the issue of accountability and transparency, Adamolekun said Nigerians don’t trust the government because it hoards information and refuses to engage with citizens who want to know about its activities.

On what businesses can do to retain the trust of Nigerians, Ambrose-Medebem aligned with earlier speakers that institutions should prioritise full disclosure. She disclosed that transparency is a core value at Lafarge Africa Plc, which is always the first to publish its Sustainability Report.


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