Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

Nigerians and work ethics – by Peter Obidike


Our work ethics got to change; from small shop attendants at a supermarket, book seller in the book shop, printer at the press,  to the “Oga at the top”

Ever wondered why every serious business in this country employs expatriates? 

Think about it, behind every successful conglomerate in this country is an “Oyibo” man. 

From Guinness, to Coca cola, Nestle, Nigerian Brewery, just name it. 

Even the road maintenance contractors working for the Rivers state government to patch pot holes on the roads of Port Harcourt have “Oyibo” content.

In searching for a reason for this trend, I came across some instances that made me reflect on what we may be doing wrong as a people in terms of how we see our daily schedules. 

I went to a shop to buy a gift item and on sighting the dust on the items, I called the attendant and enquired why they did not care to dust the items since they had been in the shop since morning. 

The guy happily informed me that the guy employed to do the dusting does not take it seriously and that accounts for the bad state of the items on the shelf. 

And this is a small shop that has about three attendants and I will assume they are all paid at the end of the month. 

The story is the same all over the small shops and supermarkets, dusts on shelves that are supposed to be manned by attendants. 

And if you think the shops are the only one culpable, wait until you get to our government offices and private companies. 

My friend was asked how she manages her large stock of goods in her shop to make sure the attendant does not pilfer them and she said she relies on “instincts”! 

The problem with such “instincts” is that in a couple of months down the line, the attendants “instincts” would likely outsmart hers and she may have to restock her shop with additional capital! 

And when she was asked what she does in the shop from morning until evening, she was speechless because she has no concrete schedule for all those days she goes out to the shop. 

The point is that she could not marshal out a plan that would see her engaged all day in that little shop when there was obviously so much to be done like taking stock, ensuring the items are cleaned and dusted, checking out potential customers etc. 

In most of our Nigerian enterprises, we seem to be at a loss for what to do when we go to work.

In a related occasion, I went to “Best bite”, it’s not really a big pastry shop but the only difference is that it had an expatriate supervisor. 

On seeing that the young lady attending to customers was about to take the seat by the counter, he quickly took the seat away, and reminded the young lady that she was younger than he was and thus should be able to stand and do her job. 

It was obvious that the role required the attendant to stand so as to be able to serve.

I am sure you would connect with several other shops where you have attendants who work annoyingly slow that you would think twice about revisiting such places, and to think that these attendants are ignorant of how they contribute to the liquidation of their firm!

Ask any Nurse or a relative that works abroad and you will get to know that they do not sit down until the end of their shift period because there is so much to be done, they don’t even get to take calls while at work. 

So are others in all other walks of life, but not so in Naija, the land of freedom, where you will find a bank teller chatting away while she has a long queue of customers waiting for her Majesty or the Lord of the filling stations chatting with the long queue of cars at her mercy and God help you if it is not a period of fuel scarcity when you may have to confess your love for her in addition to dishing out some extra notes to confirm your seriousness.

We seem to trivialize our contributions and responsibilities to the society and this has been entrenched in our “DNA” so much that we treat everything as PDP’s “family affair.” 

And it is that “family affair” that has kept us so backward among the comity of nations.

Our work ethics has got to change, right from the small shop attendants at a supermarket, the book seller in the book shop, the printer at the press,  to the “Oga at the top,” if we are to make progress as a people. 

Whatever your job is, look very well and write down the things you will need to accomplish every day, break them into small tasks before and after lunch and keep going at it every day and you will be amazed at what you will accomplish in no distant time. 

Cleaning alone is such a huge task we seem to take for granted that even with the creation of sanitation Saturdays we still come out one of the dirtiest cities in the world and the finest cities do not have anything like Sanitation Saturdays, they just keep cleaning their cities every day, one day at a time.

It is possible some people may not be able to generate enough work to fill their daily schedule as they lack ideas or are simply lazy, but that is where the supervisors come in, to make sure they provide sufficient work to fill staff schedules otherwise they may be exposed to idle talk and all the gossips that go with it while neglecting the business. 

And if you look closely, most of the “Oyibos” employed by companies are here to do just that “supervise” because they are good at it, not mixing business with pleasure in a “family affair” that eventually ruins the family.

Obidike Peter wrote from www.peterobidike.com and p_obidike@yahoo.com


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