YNaija Says: For Buhari’s government to maintain trust, it needs to cut its costs now

Trust in government may help governments to implement structural reforms with long term benefits… In a low-trust climate, citizens will prioritise immediate, appropriable and partial benefits, and will induce politicians to seek short-term and opportunistic gains through free-riding and populist attitudes (Gyorffy, 2013).

Despite the threat posed by a faction of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to continue with their planned strike over the removal of fuel subsidy and consequent increase in petrol pump price from N86/litre to N145/litre, it appears many Nigerians will still make it to work. This is a clear departure from what we have been used to where workers prefer to stay at home until strike issues are resolved. The refusal of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), an influential component of Labour to go-ahead with the planned strike is also instructive.

The reason is simple: many citizens trust President Muhammadu Buhari to come through on his promises. They are willing to give him a chance to consolidate on his famed integrity virtue, much unlike what we had in 2012 when Nigerians trooped out in many cities across the country to express disagreement over a similar price hike announced by a government which has found it increasingly difficult to fulfil its part of the socio-political contract.

Citizens’ trust and faith in government is a critical part of this contract. It is easily one of the most important foundations upon which the legitimacy and sustainability of political systems are built. One which gradually erodes when government’s performance consistently falls short of citizen expectations.

Which is where this government needs to begin to pay attention.

With the Buhari’s administration nearing one-year since inauguration, it is obvious that it has not delivered its part of the bargain. Many campaign promises given by his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) are yet to be fulfilled. The government displays attitudes akin to that of the then ruling party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) – carelessness and arrogance.

The change we were promised have not been seen: not in power supply, which has considerably declined from a 5,000MW to 1,400MW since former Lagos governor, Babatunde Fashola took over the ministry; not in coherent communication as displayed by government officials while explaining the details of the subsidy removal; not in accountability and transparency, as we have seen in the case of Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information, who, against civil service rules, requested a N13 million loan from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); and certainly not in the budget which is, at its essence, a copy of the excesses of governments past.

And we are still beyond shocked that the supposedly austere president is still maintaining an obscene fleet of presidential jets.

Nigerians continue to demand leadership that shows that it is tune with the suffering of the people, therefore it is incumbent upon Preisdent Buhari to lead by example by cutting unnecessary spending and urge members of his cabinet to do the same.

You can’t ask people who earn a minimum wage of less than N20,000 to handle a 100 per cent increase in costs, while you sit pretty earning the same as you always have, cushioned by a still obese government.

We need to see bold, radical and significant cost-cutting on the part of government for us to have faith that Nigerians’ sacrifice will make a difference.

President Buhari earned voters’ trust during the 2015 campaigns by showing his understanding of the plight of the man on the streets, his job of earning our trust is not done, it must continue through the life of his administration, or he will lose it.

He will.

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