Political distrust and the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria

Peer Reviewed
5 October 2020

Christian C. Ezeibe, Chukwudi Ilo, Ezinwanne N. Ezeibe, Chika N. Oguonu, Nnamdi A. Nwankwo, Chukwuedozie K. Ajaero, Nnabuike Osadebe

While studies have explored how health sector corruption, weak healthcare system, large-scale immune compromised population, misinformation and prevalence of highly congested slums contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria, they have glossed over the impact of political distrust on the spread of the virus. This study explores the impact of political distrust on the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. The study utilised qualitative dominant mixed methods approach comprising telephone interviews and a survey of 120 educated Nigerians purposively selected from four COVID-19 most affected states including Lagos, Oyo, Kano and Rivers as well as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The study also relied on secondary data on the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria sourced from Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control from 27 February to 31st August 2020. The study found that political corruption motivates large-scale political distrust. This undermines public compliance to government protocols, limits the outcomes of government responses to COVID-19 and facilitates the spread of the virus in Nigeria. The paper concludes that improving government accountability in the public sector management is relevant for building public trust, promoting citizens’ compliance to COVID-19 safety measure and mitigating the spread of the pandemic in Nigeria and beyond.


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Sustainable Development Goals
Publication reference
Ezeibe, C. C., Ilo, C., Ezeibe, E. N., Oguonu, C. N., Nwankwo, N. A., Ajaero, C. K., & Osadebe, N. (2020). Political distrust and the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria. Global Public Health, 15(12), 1753–1766. doi:10.1080/17441692.2020.1828987
Publication | 4 March 2021