Trust: The Missing Ingredient in Nigeria. Lessons Of COVID-19 
Trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of a person or something. Trust involves firm belief and unshakable confidence.
Any developed society is founded on firm belief in the philosophy on which the society is built.
Trust builds confidence, and confidence leads to sacrifice and performance. Nobody invests or takes seriously what he/she has no confidence in.
An average young Israeli enlisting in the Israeli Army, Navy, Airforce, or Mossad has a firm belief that if he/she is captured, the whole power of Israel will be deployed to rescue her/him. The case of Gillat Sahalit, a young Israeli soldier, who was captured by the Palestinians is an example. Israel was ready to do anything to set him free. Every Israeli has confidence that his nation will avenge anybody that threatens his/her life.
The average American citizen has firm belief in the American electoral system; that’s why some people were ready to stay on long queues to vote during the Democratic primaries during the lockdown order as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Belief is the currency of any transaction.
Another issue with trust is reliability. Reliability is: what you hear, is what I mean; what I promised, is what you will get; what a system or organisation is established for, is what it will do. Reliability is an assurance that there will not be disappointment, and failure is an exception not the norm. Trust involves firm belief in the ability to perform or meet expectations.
1. A significant percentage of Nigerians don’t believe in this entity called Nigeria
An average Igbo young person does not feel Nigerian enough to make him/her sacrifice for this nation because of their perceptions of unfair treatment in the structure called Nigeria. Several Northerners see themselves primarily as northerners and a Muslim first, before the entity called Nigeria. The present distribution of key offices at the federal level, especially around the president, has further reinforced this belief that even the president sees himself, primarily, as a northerner, before being the president of Nigeria. It has created an ‘us-and-them’ mentality in the country.
When Abba Kyari was buried, and the social distancing protocols were obviously and recklessly flouted, there was a loud cry that when it’s them, the laws can be broken. It is being rumoured that Lagos State Government is about to drop charges and pardon those who held a party during the lockdown order.
Lesson 1 – A Dynamic Decade.
Lesson 2 – The Death of Abba Kyari—Nigerians Hardly Learn.
Lesson 4 – The Nigerian Army, Police Force, And Citizenry.
Lesson 7 – The Tragedy Of Life And Living.
Lesson 9 – Religion, Routine, Reality, and Responsibility.
2. Nigerians do not have trust in the electoral system, and by extension, they don’t have trust in the politicians
Very few Nigerians trust the political elite and their cronies. It is no longer news that this distrust, and the observation of the regional inclination by the president and his inner circle, has made people to even wrongly imagine that we are being governed by someone from Sudan. I have never believed that for a day.
Nigerians don’t trust our politicians; even their supporters and special assistants don’t trust them.
Up till today, even educated Nigerians don’t believe there is a coronavirus pandemic. They believe it is a scam. They believe that most of the cases being announced by the Nigerian centre for disease control are like election results by our electoral commission. There is so much secrecy in our political system that you can’t blame the people. Once they consider it as a scam, they find it difficult to obey simple instructions on social distancing, stay-at-home order, etc.
The people do not know what treatment is being given to the patients; they have hardly seen the inside of a treatment centre, or patients discharged and the health workers celebrating. The whole world saw Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister on a stretcher being wheeled from intensive care to the wards. Nobody knew the whereabouts of Abba Kyari before he died. Even the content of the coffin is being doubted by conspiracy theorists. This is very unfortunate for a nation in times of crisis. It is a recurring decimal.
When our gentle President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, was sick, it was all speculation and confusion. When our current president had health challenges, it was the same thing, We don’t know where our Vice President and Adams Oshiomole, the National Chairman of the ruling party, are. This is not North Korea.
3. You can’t trust someone who does not have your interest at heart
Nigerians feel the politicians do not have their interests at heart, and you can’t blame them.
During the initial border closure, the Comptroller General of Customs is on record as saying that foreign rice is dangerous because they have stayed in warehouses for up to 5 years in their countries of origin. He went further to state that added preservatives are injurious to human health. However, it has been reported that the rice sent to some states in western Nigeria was rotten. This generates a lot of questions. Were these the same seized foreign bags of rice that were dangerous? If not, are they from the strategic grain reserve? If they are from the strategic grain reserve, is this the same type of rotten rice that were distributed to the northern states. If yes, then those responsible must be very evil.
I saw a State Governor inspecting an isolation centre in the north; I was wondering if any of his family members would agree to stay there if they tested positive for COVID-19. Definitely no! Then why prepare such rubbish for those you claim voted you into power. Our politicians see the masses as fools.
My good friend, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, during his tenure as governor initiated the Abiye (Safe Motherhood) Project, which was globally celebrated. Wives of state commissioners were giving birth in the same hospital. That’s social justice.
4. The political elite don’t trust our healthcare delivery system and our doctors
The president of Madagascar came on TV to approve of a herbal treatment for COVID-19 developed by his scientists. He drank it in front of the world press.
A professor and former head of our national electoral body announced that he had developed a cure for coronavirus; I’m sure even his ward counselor will not agree to drink it. Our federal legislators refused cars made by Innoson Motors in Nigeria.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives went with several guests to Dubai to celebrate his mother’s birthday. Can you imagine such insanity? How then do you want foreign investors to invest in your country?
Senegal developed their own test kits for COVID-19 that goes for about 1 USD. We are crying for non-availability of test kits.
However, I saw a Nigerian researcher from one of our institutes that claimed that they have test kits produced in their institute. Will the Government responsibly look into that if it doesn’t have anything to advance their politics?
Ghana was sending specimens with drones, while we were sending ours by road. Before the results return, more than 200,000 Naira has been spent. A patient was sent home after collecting his specimen. He died at home before the results came out. Imagine the number of people he might have infected before he died. That is medical recklessness and gross unpreparedness dramatised.
5. Trust is built on commitment
A report stated that 70% of healthcare workers in a state have run away from their duty posts because of fear of being infected with COVD-19. The state has not supplied personal protective equipment for healthcare personnel. COVID-19 has been an issue since November 2019. So if a suspected case of COVID-19 appears in our public hospitals, the health workers escape for their dear lives.
None of them are ready to die for a nation that will abandon them if they get the virus. Our governments are not serious.
6. Distrust Between Religious Groups and the Government
The government categorically stated that places of worship should be shut down, because there is the very likelihood of community infection as happened in some countries. Initially, our Muslim brethren found it difficult to accept such instructions, and nothing was done to enforce the laws. When Christians broke the same law, the pastors were arrested. This reinforced their distrust for the rule of law.
Many erroneously believed that there was an unfair treatment of Christians. Some still stick to this belief, even though the leadership of the Muslim body and the Nigerian Police Force have done their best to correct that impression. I suspect, as I had speculated in my previous write-up (Religion, Routine, Reality, and Responsibility), that the unexplained spike in deaths in Kano, and what will eventually become a norm in some of the northern states, is not unconnected with the initial religious recklessness.
I was very disturbed that pastors were agitating for churches to be allowed to operate if Muslims were breaking the rules. A simple question: If you as a pastor knows a school where they cheat in exams, will you then approve of exam malpractice in your church school?
7. Trust and Pentecostalism
I am an ordained clergyman and a medical doctor.
A lot of Pentecostal pastors missed it during this lockdown order. There were those that made reckless prophetic utterances about when the pandemic would end; instead the number of cases increased. There was one that wanted to go to China to confront coronavirus; he has hidden somewhere now. Some Pentecostal pastors were at the head of conspiracy theories about the 5G network, vaccines, microchips, and the Antichrist. Some were gross displays of intellectual dwarfism and religious obscurantism.
What was most amusing was the way their followers enthusiastically believed falsehood, and in some cases exaggeration. Their followers vigorously defended any different opinions; some pronounced curses on those who dared to criticise the Lord’s anointed. There were conflicting opinions by the so-called generals of the Lord’s army. Many people lost trust in the ability of the current leadership of Pentecostalism to rise to handle crisis situations. However, the Roman Catholic church in Nigeria displayed a great deal of maturity.
8. Trust and the Police Force
I was shocked to see a lady police officer shot dead by her male counterpart in Rivers State. That is very evil of that policeman; to shoot a woman, someone’s wife, sister, and mother with a police uniform.
There was another video of policemen molesting a woman with sticks; it was a terrible sight to behold. There were instances where policemen were acting as transporters of passengers during the lockdown.
Now that the president has ordered a national ban on interstate movement, I hope the suspicions of someone who sat near me during the broadcast will not come to pass. He said that our policemen will collect bribes and allow people to cross the interstate borders.
There was a shameful case in Edo State where two policemen were fighting dirty like street urchins, and passengers were separating them. It was a national disgrace.
I want to commend the current leadership of the Nigerian Police Force for taking decisive disciplinary actions against any of such unprofessional behaviour.
During the lockdown, there were some spectacular arrests of those who killed the daughter of Reuben Fasoranti, the Afenifere leader, and those who kidnapped Catholic seminarians in Kaduna. There was also a massive arrest of a gang of criminals terrorising several areas of Lagos state. We only pray that they don’t come back to the streets through the back door.
God help Nigeria.
Read the next lesson: Responsibility And The Citizenry.