Africa  ·  Opinions

Nigerian Workers And Work Ethics

By Fredrick Nwabufo    11-Oct-2013 11:00 UTC+02:00


A studied view of some Nigerian workers brings to the pellucid surface flotsam and jetsam of brazen and utter disregard for work ethics and professionalism. Pragmatic and religious observance of even common nuances, forms and rules of the work ethic vademecum seems to be a mountainous task for a motley depressing number of Nigerian workers. In fact, work ethics which are the pivots of workers’ behaviour or principles and rules which control and influence workers’ attitude are as foreign to Nigerian workers as Martian aliens are to earthlings.

You are confronted with the deficiency in the work ethic and professionalism domains of some Nigerian workers when you go to some Nigerian banks.

In this gamut, here is a commonplace experiential rendition.

You have exhausted your cheque-book and you need a new one. It takes seven days or more to get a new cheque-book at your bank. You dash to your bank like a bat out of hell because you need to make a substantial payment for something next week. And with the cashless policy you cannot make the payment in cash.

At 8 a.m. you are already at the bank, but you cannot enter to do your niggling business. You are ordered to stay within a certain perimeter on the premises of the bank by an eager-to-please security man. You ask him why you should be waiting since Nigerian banks open at 8 a.m. He tells you en passant that there is an important meeting going on. A meeting at a time when customers should be at the banking hall doing different transactions? You query inaudibly.

It is 8:30 a.m. now, you are still waiting, and the number of those waiting to get into the bank has increased. That means an unfanciful struggle as Nigerians always seem to be in a hurry to nowhere.

In all of that, the morning dew moistens you.You say thank God it is not afternoon when the sun is “angry”. You cannot stand waiting in the sweltering heat.

Finally, at 8:50 a.m., you are let in. The security man thinks he has done you a favour, so you should reciprocate the “kind” gesture when you are on your way out. You make straight for the Customer Service Unit. There you meet a young pretty lady at her desk chewing gum at 9 a.m. Her harum-scarum chewing makes an annoying “tau-tau” sound. You say, “Good morning ma”, although you are older than she is, “Please I need to make an application for a new cheque-book”. She looks at you and presses forward to stare at her computer and fiddle with its mouse. You say again, this time in a more stupidly ingratiating way, “Please ma I need to make an applicat”. She cuts in before you finish the sentence, “I heard you, I am not deaf”. She fumbles her hand into her drawer, brings out a form, that is after much drama, and haughtily hands it to you to fill out. She has done you a great favour. You still say, “Thank you” after the humiliating service. And she leaves you with a sour reply, “Don’t mention it”. What for? For the bad service? You question in your head. A memento it is, because it re-echoes in your ears.

After your business is done and the ego-bruising episode is gone, you want to leave the bank in a hurry. You are deflated. You approach the security door at the exit. You enter, the door opens. You take two steps out. The security man gives you a menacing after-all-the-favour look. You remember, you have not given him “something” for letting you in before a scrum of people who are on pins and needles. You dig out a sum good enough for a security man. You do not want him to add another lashing to your already beaten spirit. He is happy. He patronises you, “Oga you too much jor!” And he leaves you with a parting expression, “Oga tank you for coming!” A memento it is too because it rings in your head long after you have left the bank. You have just been extorted.

You mull changing to another bank. But your friend Tayo tells you he gets worse treatment at his own bank. He literally grovels to bank officers to get a transaction done. He also informs you, not surprising though, that it is a Nigerian problem. Most Nigerian workers lack work ethics and professionalism. You agree it is true. You have taken enough poppy-cock to know it is true.

You go to a Nigerian federal ministry that has called for an expression of interest in a given project, and needs a competent contractor to execute the project. You know you are qualified. So you have prepared all the necessary documents to meet with the director who has been assigned to handle matters concerning the project. The Director’s secretary tells you snobbishly that you cannot see her boss. And that you have to hand in your documents to her. Without a tussle or a hassle, you give the documents (photocopies of course) to her in a file. She instructs you imperiously to come back after a week to know the progress of your file. You are enthused with that. You look beyond her repulsive attitude. You say, “Thank you”, fulsomely. Nigeria is changing, you think. You did not give her “something” as you are leaving.

A week passes; you decide to go back to the Director’s office after the passing of another week. It is a Monday, and it has been two weeks since you tendered your documents for scrutiny and consideration. You are there now, confident and cheerful. You believe you will get the contract.

Alas! Without any show of penitence, the Secretary announces to you that your file cannot be found. She adds that the contract has been awarded to someone else already so you do not need to bring another set of documents. You are ruffled. How can that happen in just two weeks? You hide your anger. You do not want to look desperate. You know it was because you did not give her “something”. You make a controlled gait to leave a last impression of pride and elegance. She mockingly leaves you with a memento, “Oga try next time”.

The reality of crass disregard for professionalism, courtesy and work ethics by some Nigerian workers hits you in the face again. Defeated, you persist in eating the dung of Nigerian workers.

The anecdotal analyses above are definitive pictures of the plummeting in professionalism and work ethic capital of some Nigerian workers. The individual cases are representative of many other related cases.

Again, it is clear that just as professionalism and work ethics are lacking in some Nigerian workers in the private sector, the same thing can be said of some Nigerian workers in the public sector. Both sectors must as a matter of exigency train and retrain their staff in the imperatives of professionalism, work ethics and courtesy. And there should be severe reprehension for flouting the canons of these essential elements of service.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and a poet. 08167992075

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