The Virus Of Mediocrity Destroying Nigeria

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As Nigeria moves into a new chapter with a new political party, I sit and ask myself who these new government officials are? What are the real qualifications of each Minister?

What track record do they really have? How many of the Ministers started from the bottom and worked their way up through Ministries or Industry? How many Ministers studied in Nigeria? And studied courses that prepared them for their new positions?

We know that in every “democratic” election that has taken place, majority of voters’ affiliate or support the candidate that they feel can help them with contracts or the candidate that can help influence their project(s). The candidate’s ability to perform their duties once elected is not a priority to people. To put it in another way, our leaders, the majority of the time have been put in their seats because of nepotism, tribalism, favouritism and cronyism. Which we know is a deeply rooted epidemic in Nigeria. I’ve been in Nigeria for 5 years and I’ve seen this first hand. Applying for jobs isn’t about experience or qualifications. These two attributes are verified at a later stage in the requirement process if at all. What is important is your tribe, family name and who introduced you to the company.  Let me be clear here, nepotism, tribalism and cronyism are a social phenomenon and I’m not pin pointing Nigeria as a bad example. But, I’m basing my opinions on what I know from living in Europe and now living in Nigeria.

When I arrived, I went about trying to identify the recruitment agencies, websites where local jobs were posted. When I mentioned this to a friend, they laughed at me and wished me well. Their exact words were “good luck with that. Let me know how you get on with that”. I didn’t understand what they meant. However, four months later, I understood. When I hadn’t received any emails or phone calls, I then decided to speak to a few friends.

Nigeria

Within a couple of weeks, I had interviews lined up.

However, during my interviews, I was then faced with a new obstacle, tribalism.  I was constantly asked what tribe I was. How would I deal with the different tribes in Nigeria and how as a communications individual would I deal with local journalists as a woman. I was horrified as one can imagine that in this day and age I would be asked such questions. As I was later told, this was normal and I should get used to it. How is it that someone can get used to it? What exactly do I have to get used too?

The fact that I’m already on a back foot because I’m not Nigerian, therefore my ethnicity will come into play straight away or is it that I have to get used to the fact that we don’t care really about qualifications so all my experience will not matter here. In other parts of the world nepotism and cronyism are also issues.

However, there is still a very strong element of quality control. You can’t beat both. Jobs are harder to find, therefore it is still who you know and not what you know to an extent. But, what you know will come into play once you are hired in the West. But with my experience in Nigeria, I know this not to be the case. We have individuals who time and time again will win contracts over more qualified, more talented individuals. Just because they know the person responsible for signing off on the job or because they will share the money allocated to the project more with them than the individual that submitted a proposal for less money, more experience and more creativity.

So I go on to ask myself, what happens to our youth. The graduate, who hasn’t had the opportunity to travel abroad, hasn’t had the opportunity to have work experience, the graduate that comes from a lesser background. How do they enter the market place? How do the recruiters objectively give these young talents a chance? We all know that there is a wealth of talent in Nigeria. We talk constantly about empowering the youth, however, in the same breath we are also the same people that disenfranchises the youth.

There is a lack of ethics in the workplace in Nigeria. One of the most basic themes in Ethics is fairness.  As Aristotle said: “Equals should be treated equally and unequals unequally.” Cronyism, favouritism and nepotism all interfere with fairness because they give undue advantage to someone who does not necessarily merit this treatment. It goes further to undermine the common good.So what is the real problem then? If we can agree that nepotism, favouritism and cronyism are all accepted norms in our societies (in some place better placed out than others), then why write this article?

Why write about something that seems to be inherent in our DNA as society? Why blame the individual that is able to network and use their family connections to support their job hunting? Well answer comes back to competence.

There is a lack of ethics in the workplace in Nigeria. One of the most basic themes in Ethics is fairness

couple of weeks, I had interviews lined up. However, during my interviews, I was then faced with a new obstacle, tribalism.  I was constantly asked what tribe I was. How would I deal with the different tribes in Nigeria and how as a communications individual would I deal with local journalists as a woman. I was horrified as one can imagine that in this day and age I would be asked such questions. As I was later told, this was normal and I should get used to it.

How is it that someone can get used to it? What exactly do I have to get used too? The fact that I’m already on a back foot because I’m not Nigerian, therefore my ethnicity will come into play straight away or is it that I have to get used to the fact that we don’t care really about qualifications so all my experience will not matter here. In other parts of the world nepotism and cronyism are also issues.

However, there is still a very strong element of quality control. You can’t beat both. Jobs are harder to find, therefore it is still who you know and not what you know to an extent. But, what you know will come into play once you are hired in the West. But with my experience in Nigeria, I know this not to be the case. We have individuals who time and time again will win contracts over more qualified, more talented individuals. Just because they know the person responsible for signing off on the job or because they will share the money allocated to the project more with them than the individual that submitted a proposal for less money, more experience and more creativity.  So I go on to ask myself, what happens to our youth.

The graduate, who hasn’t had the opportunity to travel abroad, hasn’t had the opportunity to have work experience, the graduate that comes from a lesser background. How do they enter the market place? How do the recruiters objectively give these young talents a chance? We all know that there is a wealth of talent in Nigeria. We talk constantly about empowering the youth, however, in the same breath we are also the same people that disenfranchises the youth.There is a lack of ethics in the workplace in Nigeria. One of the most basic themes in Ethics is fairness.

As Aristotle said: “Equals should be treated equally and unequals unequally.” Cronyism, favouritism and nepotism all interfere with fairness because they give undue advantage to someone who does not necessarily merit this treatment. It goes further to undermine the common good.So what is the real problem then? If we can agree that nepotism, favouritism and cronyism are all accepted norms in our societies (in some place better placed out than others), then why write this article? Why write about something that seems to be inherent in our DNA as society? Why blame the individual that is able to network and use their family connections to support their job hunting? Well answer comes back to competence.

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