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Trust As Social Capital

Fundamental to the functioning, development and sustenance of any society is trust. Trust is as important as other social capitals like truth, honesty, integrity, cooperation and loyalty. Trust as a social capital undergirds family relations, institutional relations and government relations and even interstate relations. For instance, if the trust is lacking in a family, especially if the children cannot trust the father or mother or the reverse being the case, it would be difficult, if not impossible to forge ahead. What may perhaps exist would be occasional bouts of development. Similar situations of disequilibrium would exist in other societal institutions.

The current Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) crisis is aggravated and prolonged due to the dearth of trust, especially on the part of the government. Many of the agreements reached by the Federal government with ASUU in the past few decades, when I became a full university lecturer, have either been partially fulfilled, haphazardly implemented or not implemented at all.

These issues border and bother on the funding of infrastructural development of the universities, remuneration and control, through visitation panels. No one can confidently assert that the Federal government has kept and sustained the trust of the University lecturers, the latter being a crucial and critical factor in the development of the society.

It is not enough to prevail on ASUU to call off the strike without the government doing the needful, that is, fulfilling her own part of the agreement. Promissory notes will not do. Appeals will not do. The social capital of trust has been rendered comatose and needs a lot of efforts for its revival.

So do not blame ASUU, blame the government. This is not to extricate the University system from certain internal problems. It is very unfortunate that education is not properly funded in this country given the humongous resources at our disposal. As I once remarked, “Any society that starves its best brains will do so at her own peril and development will only exist in our imagination”.

It is not a matter of pride, arrogance or stubbornness, ASUU holds the light for the present and future generations of Nigerians. The Federal government knows the right things. It should do it without further waste of time. After all, Socrates had made it clear that “Knowledge is a virtue.”

Prof. Olatunji Oyeshile
Department of Philosophy
University of Ibadan.

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