(By Simon Abah)
“In industries, employers of labour take undue advantage of the work force. They never see workers as team members but as people they dole out favours to with the provision of jobs. Imagine this scenario: A company gets a billion-naira project but lacks the foresight to plan for workers’ salaries long term; upper management staff buy cars, land and build houses. When the project ends, the company dismisses staff verbally without any benefits. There are no policies or plans for sustainability and that is the reason companies hardly outlive their owners in this country.”
Months after assassins sent the former Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice, the late Chief Bola Ige to the state of permanent silence from where no one returns, I visited my friend’s father in Lagos, a sage, who is in his twilight years. He was visibly distraught. He knew the late chief and spoke glowingly about his intelligence, life and principles. He was visibly angry and said that bandits have taken over Nigeria and what we were witnessing was banditocracy and not democracy.
He suggested, without mincing words, that the country be leased to the British. Imagine my shock. When I tried to question the idea, he said to me, ‘Son, if Bola can be killed the way he was, then no one is safe’. I concurred but didn’t appreciate the suggestion that the country be leased out. As if reading my mind he expanded: “This country was run efficiently when the British left. We had social services working, jobs were not hard to get, the police were efficient, and civil service was at the top of the game. There was no robbery. Incidents of robbery only reared their ugly head after the war when people had guns without control. And gun-running is now a fashion, with hordes of men owning enough weapons to wipe out villages”.
A close friend visited me recently and complained bitterly about the lack of employment in the land (he is currently in need of a job). To find solace, he goes to church but can’t stand the attitude of his pastor who makes the suggestion that poor people remain poor because they choose to and he (the pastor) can never be poor because he is not affected by fetish from enemies anywhere in the country. I listened with rapt attention. That same pastor boasts of having a private jet. My friend asked me some rhetorical questions: What will happen when all members of the congregation stop attending or paying tithes? Would they remain rich? Why can’t they be humble? I really couldn’t give an answer.
Chijioke (not his real name) is highly religious and believes in God. One challenge he faces is the inability to compromise in the face of wrong-doing and he has lost jobs because of this. As I write, he just lost another job for the umpteenth time. His last job was at a gas station where fraud is the norm. Employees have tried co-opting him to no avail until they started making threats to his life and he had to resign.
A friend’s father with a background in academics, educated in the United Kingdom and who has travelled widely, worked in an enviable sector and rose to be deputy director, but he shunned graft and was very strict. He was forced to retire before his time and forced out of his accommodation in Abuja while other retirees stay for years in their official accommodation without compunction. Can decent people ever work in this place without been corrupted?
In industries, employers of labour take undue advantage of the work force. They never see workers as team members but as people they dole out favours to with the provision of jobs. Imagine this scenario: A company gets a billion-naira project but lacks the foresight to plan for workers’ salaries long term; upper management staff buy cars, land and build houses. When the project ends, the company dismisses staff verbally without any benefits. There are no policies or plans for sustainability and that is the reason companies hardly outlive their owners in this country.
Hardship and disillusionment continue to spread: Emmanuel asked me what the benefits of being a Nigerian? He says he sank his own borehole because there is no provision of pipe-borne water by the government, he and some of his neighbours provided the access road to their houses and he has never benefitted positively from the country’s resources.
Recently, a friend recounted the harrowing experience of seeing people stealing from accident victims on the highway instead of helping them. We deserve an award in contrasts when citizens are helped to the other world by the recklessness of drivers on our roads while sensitisations are mostly carried out during festive periods.
Gloria travelled to Lagos from Benin to complete a test for a job placement. After the test, in a hall of 50 persons, only one person was called out and asked to go for an interview. Gloria was bewildered. She found out later that the job had already been sold. Her attendance was a mere formality.
Some years back, I was privileged to be invited for a job placement test in one of the best international agencies. A 100 people completed the first stage of the test, and we were pruned to 30 and then five, all of whom had passed and we five proceeded to the oral interview. This exercise lasted for one month.
After the four-week rigour and final interview, I was told I didn’t make the last stage principally because I am not from the Niger Delta. Coming from someone who flew into Nigeria from a country outside ours (from the west), I was taken aback. They only wanted to employ someone from the Niger Delta and had not included that detail in the job description. By chance, I ran into a staff member of that agency months later. He recognised me, and told me that the successful Niger Delta applicant had lost his job because he couldn’t meet the job requirements.
Insurance companies in Nigeria are willing to sell you policies but take forever to approve your request for cancellation and payment of same policy.
Unfortunately, our disrespect for ourselves, other people and institutions has set a bad precedent for others to follow. How long are we going to ask ourselves the question: “When will things get better? “
Is it too much to ask the government to provide us with basic necessities to make life worth living? The inability of the government to fulfill its basic responsibility is lending credence to the request that Nigeria should consider being leased to the British so they can provide us with the basic necessities for making life tolerable.
Abah is executive team leader, Rinasham Multi-Services Ltd, Port Harcourt.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”