Working in Nigeria can be hectic. Sometimes, hectic doesn’t just even describe it: try abusive. We asked some Nigerians to tell us their horrible job experiences and with some of the answers we got, we don’t know whether to cry or to just give them a hug.
1. Kafaya, 26
I worked for an advertising agency for a while. It was tough. There were some good times, but it’s like I have PTSD whenever I think about that place. I definitely have more bad memories than good ones. It was a “Your work is never good enough” place. My boss would criticise your work, look you in the face and ask, “What school did you even go to?”. Imagine hearing that every day for 2 years. There was verbal abuse every day.
Everyone was scared of our boss because they didn’t know what mood he would be coming into the office with. I had to leave because self-doubt had eaten so deep into my head. It took a very long time to get back to normal, but I’m in a better place now. When I was leaving, he told me all the demeaning statements were to “Push me and make me a better person”. Never again.
2. Dennis, 29
I quit my job after two months in the middle of a pandemic, without any other source of income, because of verbal abuse. Not just verbal abuse; it was all-encompassing. It felt like I was in kindergarten. You couldn’t leave your desk for anything unless the CEO granted you permission.
The CEO basically shouted at everyone for every small “misdemeanour”, and a misdemeanour could be anything like missing morning devotion — yes, morning devotion. When I say shout, I mean he would drag you for about 20 minutes. No jokes. Talk about how you were useless to the organisation, talk about how he can’t justify your salary, bring up things you did months ago, anything.
It was a small organisation. One of these new woke ones that have popping social media pages. The workforce had about 13 people, and about 4 people confided in me that they cried every day after work. One of them was a married woman. I asked HR why she never did anything about it and she just said, “Dennis, people have come and gone ahead of you. Everyone has complained. We have tried. This is what we have to live with until we find new jobs. We all hate it here”.
3. Victor, 22
When I finished secondary school, I decided to teach in a primary school, just to earn some bucks while waiting for University. Eight thousand naira, to work from 7:30 am to 5 pm. One day, after the school I graduated from beat the one I was working at in a competition, my boss got really angry, remembered that I graduated from there and decided not to pay me my salary for that month. It still baffles me to this day. How childish could someone be?
4. Patience, 30
My current workplace is the worst place to ever work. This is what happens here: You work round the clock with little or no sleep, and they either don’t give you a raise, or they abruptly sack you. If the CEO doesn’t like you, then nothing works for you — and the CEO hardly likes anyone.
They also play this trick: When you get the job, they’ll tell you that you’ll be “confirmed” after six months. Lies. They won’t do any confirmation for you until after a year. You know why? Because they don’t want to increase your salary to full staff level, and you can’t ask for a raise if you’re not confirmed yet.
They randomly go on firing sprees in the name of downsizing and then double the work of the people that still work here. And remember, you can’t ask for a raise.
5. Oma, 28
Let me explain. It was a telecommunications company. We never got our salaries at once. I got there in December 2019. So, December 2019 salary was paid in late January, 2020. Then 20% of January’s salary was paid in mid February, the remaining 80% was paid in late March.
In April, our boss walked into the office and told us that since he had just paid us at the end of March, the next salary we would be getting was April’s. February and March salary was gone, and there was nothing we could do about it. There were a few complaints here and there, but the general vibe I was getting was one of acceptance and defeat. I looked him straight in the eyes and said, “You will pay me”. He laughed and walked into his office. I picked up my phone, put on the voice recorder and followed him.
I told him the same thing, “You will pay me”, and then he went on a rant about how I was a nobody, and how I didn’t have the rights to tell him that he had to pay me my salary. He promised he wasn’t going to pay anybody, and the only option I had was to quit the job, go home and watch movies. I left his office.
Later that night I sent the voice recording to him. He called me endlessly and kept begging me. I just picked and told him “Send my money”. After some days, I got my full pay, and I quit the job.
The others? They didn’t get anything, just like he promised. And they still work there.
6. Funke, 22
During one strike in university, my sister and I decided to apply for a job at a water bottling company, because it was close to our house. After visiting the place, my sister decided she wasn’t interested. I told myself I was resilient, “Isn’t it just bottled water?”
Labelling water is the easiest thing to do in water production. I labelled about eight hundred bottles in the first day. After the second day, where I also labelled about the same number of bottles, the body pains I had were crazy. I didn’t need to be told not to go back. At the end of the month, I got credited N1000 in my account.