Why Don’t Nigerians Talk About Their Personal Income? — 7 Nigerians Tell Zikoko

January 17, 2022
Talk About Income

Why is personal income such a taboo topic to Nigerians? Is it due to classism or feelings of inadequacy? Or have we been conditioned to think talking about money is boastful or tacky?

We asked seven Nigerians why they don’t talk about money, and here’s what they said:

Precious, 27

Shame, dear. How do you tell your friends and classmates who expect big things from you that you’re earning ₦30k a month? Thankfully sha, Jesus died and took my shame away. Now, I can freely talk about it while searching for a better job.

Victor*, 28

People suddenly turn to personal accountants, calculating your salary and how much you should be able to give them. One time I was talking with a classmate about needing to get to sabo that evening and change money. He asked, “You get paid in dollars?” I said yes. He asked, “How much?” and without thinking, I mentioned it. After five minutes of whyning me, we switched topics, and I thought that was the end of it. 

He later called to ask if I could help him with ₦30k. I explained why I couldn’t give him. I had been robbed and was trying to replace my gadgets and pay outstanding bills. Then the dude went, “If you give me 30k, you will have so and so left. You can buy a laptop for this amount, use this to do this and that and still have so and so left. I just hung up.

Oluchi*, 24

Once people realise how much they earn, it affects how we relate. On the one hand, I feel entitled to their wealth if I know they earn a lot. I have tech bro friends who I occasionally try to bill because they make a lot of money — sometimes I have to check myself from going overboard. On the other hand, for people who don’t earn much, I find myself excusing them from responsibility or overcompensating by being overly pitiful. In my experience, no decent person likes to be pitied as it makes them feel small. 

Arit*, 35

Many people believe in jazz. I don’t know that I do, but I’m nervous about discussing my salary because you never know who is who. Just to be on the same side, I don’t talk about my salary. Village people are active o and me I don’t want to jinx anything. It’s also a similar reason why people don’t talk about their japa plans until they have settled in the abroad.

Muyiwa*, 20

I’m a software engineer employed at an abroad company, and I’m yet to graduate from university. Initially, I didn’t have problems disclosing my salary. However, I noticed that relatives thought it was too much money for a “small boy”. According to them — especially the boomers — I had no responsibilities. Someone even wanted my mother to be keeping money for me as if I’m ten years old. At some point, I stopped spending my own money because I didn’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. Funny enough, I don’t think it’s a lot, and I hope to 3X my salary this year.

Femi, 23

While I’m not particularly secretive about my earnings, I don’t go into the details. Instead of disclosing figures, I keep my income vague because people do usually ment. I’d hate to wake up to texts from people precisely breaking down my earnings and trying to show me how my giving them a part of it won’t bother my life. 

Farida*, 32

I don’t want people to rate my lifestyle based on how they think I spend. Somebody can start judging you for things you buy or don’t buy because they think you’re living above your means. Also, sometimes it’s to keep families from inviting unnecessary wahala. So I’d rather remain silent.

But many people get underpaid because they don’t discuss how much they earn. It’s crazy.

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

Watch

Now on Zikoko

May 20, 2022

Nobody will pass off a chance to win an all-expense-paid trip to KENYA with the winner of Nigerian Idol Season 7. So if you are still thinking, dreaming, waiting, or thinking you have enough time, then you are wasting time because this promo is ending on the 7th of June. Do we have your attention? Here’s […]

Recommended Quizzes

October 30, 2019

Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys movie got a lot of things right, especially casting, so yes, it was a monster hit. Now, we know you may not have put much thought to this, but the personalities of some of the characters closely match yours, and we would like to help you find the perfect match. […]

November 11, 2019

Everyone has something to say about what kind of person they are. But how well do we truthfully evaluate these things? Not that much, I can assure you. The average person is always lying to themselves to make sure they look good. But you know what and who doesn’t lie? Zikoko quizzes that’s what. Take […]

October 29, 2019

We are going to be attempting to guess when you’ll marry based on your favourite Nigerian foods. What does your fave swallow have to do with when you’ll tie the knot? Please, don’t ask complicated questions. This quiz is rigorous and accurate (don’t quote us), so just take it already. QUIZ: Why Do You Have […]

December 11, 2019

In the past month, we’ve made quizzes that guessed the last time you had sex, how many people you’ve slept with, and just how good you are in bed. For our latest attempt, we will use your taste in Nigerian music from the 2010s to ascertain what you’re like in bed. Take to find out:

More from Money

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X