Home Essays The Private Sector In NIgeria by Arueze Chisom.

The Private Sector In NIgeria by Arueze Chisom.



The private sector? They use people!

I got acquainted with Amaka early this year, I met her where I used to work. Fair skinned and slender looking, she was easy on the eye but most times, we have to look beyond we see. “Life has not been so kind to me,” she tells me as she recounts her ‘not so good’ job experiences. Her parents could barely provide 2 meals a day. School was a luxury so she had to take up parental responsibilities being the eldest amongst her siblings. She set out to working for people to help out with expenses.

The private sector? They use people! Those were Amaka’s words. “People are wicked, do you know all through my years of working I have never been paid my complete salary?” At some point, she felt jinxed for getting bad employers. She had worked at a law firm, a computer operating center and a provision shop. “Some employers do not know the value of a good staff, they waste no time in faulting the ones around, always threatening to go on a staffing spree” she said. “They would always pay me 1 or 2 weeks into the new month, I couldn’t leave the job either because my family was dependent on me.”

Considering the rate of unemployment in the country, jobs are extremely hard to find. She remembers one time she was brave enough to confront her boss about her delayed salary. She was asked if she was deemed fit to be paid. She told me that her boss informed her that she was lucky she paid her. Amaka said she started wondering if she had unknowingly signed up as a volunteer in a non-governmental organization.

A Friend of mine has been in contemplation over his transparency towards his subsequent employers. He was not paid his salary in full, reason being that his boss assumed he had stolen some money. Heartbroken and underappreciated, he wished he had actually taken some money. “After putting in my best like the company was mine, I get laid off like this” he complained bitterly.

That is the mindset most people have about working for a private company. We are quick to call out and drag the government if salaries are not being paid but what about the private sector? They include companies, businesses, firms owned by individuals not excluding bosses to domestic workers like house helps, gatemen and so on. In fact, anything that has nothing to do with the government is privately owned. It’s no news of how these private owned companies mete out inhumane treatment to their staff and also refuse to pay them in full for services being rendered.

You can vividly recall on the 9th of December 2019, there was news making rounds about the attack of the Nigerian Maersk boss and his Hungarian wife at their home. It was later gathered that it was a staff of the deceased that masterminded the robbery attack. When he was questioned as to why he committed such heinous act, he said the couple had owed him four months’ salary and when he summoned up courage to confront his employer, he was not only walked out but called a black pig by the wife of his boss. Now, in as much as how he went about it is highly condemnable, the insult he got from the woman fueled his intentions to forge ahead with his plans.

From the unlawful locking up of some Nigerians in the home of a Chinese couple who was their employer during the lockdown, the inhumane treatment gotten by Nigerians from Chinese owned companies, to the harassment and assault by the SARS operative meted on a junior lawyer which was instigated by his boss and lest we forget, the way a staff was pushed into the swimming pool by the child actress, Regina Daniels- There are plethora of such stories centered on ill treatment by bosses.  Just like MTN mantra, ‘everywhere you go,’ someone has one or two stories to share, either personal or someone they know. I too have had my share of this saga.

Due to the lack of employment in our country, a stable working environment has become a mirage. It’s more of a norm to be harassed and abused by a boss in Nigeria. They pay you peanuts and expect you to perform tasks like an elephant. Time and again, the Nigerian government has failed to protect its citizens from such acts. This got me wondering if there are laws in place to sanction and call such persons to order.

The Nigeria Labour act of 2004 looks into the rights, working conditions, minimum wage, termination clauses and many other rules governing employees of Nigeria. Upon further research, I found out that this Labour Act is not applicable to all classes of employees. The Act makes reference to the word “workers” in describing employees and does not include persons exercising administrative, executive, technical, or professional functions. This actually means that if you execute such roles in a company public or privately owned, the law does not have a say in your affairs.

This leaves an average Nigerian at the mercy of his/her boss. I felt so sad upon realizing this. If the Nigerian government amends some of these obsolete laws, most situations like this could be well taken care of. Laws should be enacted to protect ever working citizen. It’s indeed saddening that Nigerians have come to terms with the fact that the government does not support them. So, the only power/ instrument they have is the media bearing in mind that bad reputation is cancerous for any business or company. This then leaves me wondering, ‘for how long are we going to rely on social media to get a near justice from the private sector?’  It is my humble belief that Nigeria will one day wake from her slumber and only then will things become better for everyone at large.

Arueze Chisom Precious, a passionate writer can be reached through sommytilly1402@gmail.com


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