Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Musings: This Civil Service Mentality!

And so, I've realized somehow that I've been bitten by the poetry bug of recent. Which is strange, because I had never really thought of poetry to be my thing.  I think the honest truth is that I've been lazy. loool. Too lazy to write in a coherent way. Poetry is easy to write. Your readers either understand it or they move on. Writing in prose form, not so easy. I would want for you to feel it like I feel it. Phew! Okay, I'm starting to have a hard time even explaining that part, so lets skip it.

Anyways, slowly but surely, I'm starting to get my groove back. And I'll like to share with you today, a part of my musings. How do these my musings come about? For me, loneliness/boredom isn't really an issue. Because guess what? I've got an imagination! I've got memories! I've got books. And when all else fails, heck, I've got sleep! loool. And so, at every opportunity, I watch and reflect. I listen to others and try to understand. I watch people and try to make sense of behaviours and actions.

And so, when yesterday I began to muse again, having inadvertently become part of the listening audience to this conversation between two women on a bus, I just knew I had to share it with you all. I wish I could write in as it was said in Yoruba, (its a lot sweeter that way) just that not all of you will understand. I'll do my best to translate the conversation to English.


"As I get to the office like this, me I'm going to kneel down for my oga o."

"Aaah its good like that o."

"Not with one leg o. Two legs. I will use my two legs to kneel down and I'll explain to her. I woke up 5:30. Before I make food for my husband and children. Before I prepare the children for school. Before I drop them and start coming to work."

(shaking head from left to right) "Hmmnnnn"

"Me like this, its 7 o'clock I left the house o. 7 o'clock. But the traffic that hooked once I got to.............. Its not the first time I will be kneeling down for my oga o. There is nothing there."

At this point I had just become aware of a stupid smile that had formed across my face. I wiped it off with alacrity and rearranged my face. lool. This conversation isn't a funny matter at all. Shhhh... lemme listen more...

"Me sef, I do it. There is nothing there. It is not good for one to be too proud. The people at my office always say it is people like me that spoil the ogas. But me ke? There is nothing there. Pride is not good. Infact, there was one time like this my boss was hungry and there was nobody to buy her food. Her omo ise (office assistant), that one was heavily pregnant. That's how I said, 'bring the money ma'. She said no oooo! that aaaah! I said 'please ma, bring the money. There is nothing there."She sha gave me. That's how I went to buy the ofada rice for her that she ate. Me I don't see it as anything o. Pride is not good."

"Exactly. The way you went to buy it ehn, that is what is good o."

"It is true, now. Infact, the way I am looking at it, its like as I enter the office today, I'll just go straight to my boss' office and kneel down and beg too. Because it is already 10 o' clock........"

And on and on and on and on....

At this point, I had unsuccessfully tried to keep the smile off my face. Funnily enough, this was somehow not funny to me. I  think I was caught between two conflicting emotions.

Yet I smile.
I smile because, dang, these women are hilarious! I smile because, I can definitely relate. Having "served my nation" for 1 year in the civil service environment. And i know she wouldn't forget me in a hurry. I'll call her "she". She wouldn't forget me in a hurry. looool. She who said I should stop wearing trousers to work; as it was against Civil Service Code! *shocked face* lwkmd! She who said my 'inactions' were rude. And I should try to 'fratenize' with them more, or am I feeling too big?. (Read: flock more around her and run to carry her bag every morning and smilingly listen to her crap and take all her BS) Me!!! loool. No, she wouldn't forget all my actions and 'inactions' in a hurry. Sorry, I digress...

And so, yes I relate. I relate with where these Civil Service women are coming from. That Civil Service environment.

Still yet, I am angry.
Does the environment we are in play a part in shaping us? Yes it does. A vital part, infact. Yet, I believe there are basic standards every individual must craft for him/herself and hold on to. Respect for SELF; respect for others being one. Yes I may want to prove to my oga that I respect him/her by kneeling down to beg., But in the process, am I really respecting myself? What ever happened to explaining yourself and offering a sincere apology? Kneeling down in the work environment? Ha!

I'm angry at the way I see working mothers use children and family to excuse poor judgement. Even when it is not needed. Perhaps I judge too harshly because I am not in their shoes. Still yet, it really does irk me when women make other workers carry their slack at work because, sob, sob, I'm married and I have children. I wish I could tell them straight up, You made that decision for yourself, stfu and deal with it!

Need I even touch on the quality of company you keep and its role in shaping your actions? Classic example above.

I'm angry at this Civil Service environment. And the utter lack of professionalism. Haba, I know the setting now. Workers eating beans, dodo and fish at their desk. Fanning themselves with loose sheets of paper as there is no light. Women wearing iro and buba to work on a Monday. Stacks of dusty files on the table. Crass inefficiency all around. I could beat Encyclopedia Britannica writing on this. I will pause for now. I just wonder, why is our case like this? After all, Jack Bauer too was a Civil Servant na! Loooool.

All in all, I think the Civil Service environment, infact, life in general would ALWAYS push us to answer the question: "How low can you go?" And there are many variants of this. Just how much are you willing to take? Just how high are you willing to fly? How deep would you sink? How far will you go to prove whatever? And as I think through all these questions, I feel it is the me in me that must always determine whatever response I give and actions I take regarding these. To hell with the environment.

Pheew! Gotta go sleep now, so I wouldn't also have to kneel down with my two legs tomorrow morning. Looolest! Chao........

P.S: I was on my way to work from the bank o! Not from home o! heheheheheee

6th March 2012, 10:29pm Pic: Google Images


  1. The world thru didos eyes...always an enlightenin xperience.I can totally relate to the trend of horrible bosses,especially female sister recently quit her job in an office where the boss treated her employees like little ants to be trampled upon!she made d accountant triple as errand boy and driver,so when he wasn't on the table balancing figures,he was driving her from one event to the other,or running out to pick up her laundry!This was never included in the terms of employment,he was just one of those people who would do anythin to put food on his family's table!even if it meant selling his self respect and dignity for a paltry salary!one day he tries to speak up about the unfair work terms and she fired him without a thought!all the years of slavery gone just like that!when she tries to make my sister get in line with the remaining tiny ants,my sis quit without second thoughts!yes,we owe a duty to be diligent to our work and employers without excuse!but not to the point of trading our self respect and self worth as individuals!any employer who dosnt understand this..wouldn't get very far...and certainly wouldn't find me in their office!kmt!

  2. Hmmnnn... Thanks for your insightful comment, Sophia. And I salute your sister's courage. I will always maintain, that this HUGE HR imbalance in Africa(surplus supply, minute demand) especially @ lower cadre work levels, really isn't a blessing for many companies, though it may seem so @ first glance. What companies breed are an army of desperate 'yes men' with zero loyalty, except to their monthly pay. You've introduced another angle to this topic, Sophia. I had focused mainly on the individual perspective. This is sure to spark off another series of musings. Lool. Gracias muchos! You're a darling.

  3. This is just simply hilarious! I dont't think this civil service mentality thingy is limited to only civil service workers tho. The virus seems to have permeated other non-civil sercive establishments (i dare say even some multinationals, yeah multinationals. Im not naming names tho *clears throat*)
    It's scary o! the scary part really is how easily one can get sucked into this s!*t just by staying in that environment for a long enough time.
    For crying out loud it aint that easy quitting a job o! I feel for that guy that got sacked, im sure if i were in his shoes with a wife n kids n bills to take care of, i probably will try see how much s*%t i can take cos mehn, man must wack o.
    Nonetheless, beautiful write up. and erm, can we have more soon??? (oliver twist)

    1. loool Dupsylala how many identities would you use to comment on this blog? One identity per post abi?lool

      No wahala. Pleeasseee keep asking for more. Keep pushing me to share. You surely would get it! :-D ;-) Thank you for your ever encouraging comments Modupsy Dupsylala!

  4. Madame! You have made too much sense.
    As Dupe said, it's not just restricted to the Civil service alone o, it happens in many "multinationals" too. I've discovered though, that it's a very personal thing, if you leave "face for ground", they will use "ilokulo to lo you". hehehehehehe
    The thing is, whether we like it or not, we will unwittingly carry our culture into the workplace and naturally it will affect "professionalism". I remember when i first started working, there were situations where I had to constantly remind myself not to bend my knee when greeting an older person(lol), and there were also situations where you know that to pacify the "gods", just add "Ma" or "Sir" at the end of a greeting or statement, even though it isn't exactly "professional", especially when everybody else is doing it, you just might end up looking like a "mannerless" child. If you now belong to the same ethnic tribe as your boss, especially if you're Yoruba, then you're in for it. I've once been told before that "i don't expect you to be behaving like all those girls from... side that don't have manners", of course in Yoruba, just because I was refusing to take blame for something I didn't do wrong.
    I don't take rubbish o, and there's a level of nonsense I just won't take, fortunately, it hasn't gotten to that level yet, else, I might have been out of a job by now. :D. But the truth of the matter is, at the start of a career, you might pass through some situations that just aren't palatable, as long as you make sure you keep growing through it, there's no point in wallowing in self-pity, pick yourself up, keep moving and most importantly, NEVER LET ANYBODY MAKE YOU FEEL LESS THAN WHO YOU ARE; tell yourself daily, even if you have just finished weeping and you've just been disgraced, "I am smart, I am intelligent, I may not know all I can to be great at this job yet, but I am almost there..." mehn, self-talk works o.
    Sometimes, I envy people who studied abroad, cos they're usually excused for being "mannerless", and why are they referred to thus, because they say Good morning while looking their boss straight in the eyes, because they say hello/hi instead of Good afternoon, and so many other flimsy reasons like that.
    Great job Doyin!

    N.B: The comment is jumbled, but I'm sure you get my drift:), please pardon all grammatical errors:D, I'm kinda in a rush. Cheers

    1. loool. Simbo na you make sense pass, trust me. There are so many interesting perspectives you guys are bringing into this post and I thank you so very much for it.

      For all you "multinational" workers, loool, Simbo, you sef know say multinational pass multinational. lwkmd!!! Burr seriously tho, yeah I agree.

      There certainly is that "cultural" aspect we bring into the workplace without knowing. More amazing is when even some respectable bosses with intl experience, first class education and all will never be pacified until you grovel and kneel and crawl to show remorse. Its amazing! And yeah, truly as you said these same people will readily excuse those from "oyinbo land".

      Life is frigging funny I swear.

      I guess at the end of the day like you said, it is left to the individual to define him/herself and define the standards you wont go beyound both with what you take from others and what you give to others.

      It is well, Simbo. Thank you so so much, you make too much sense. 'With your comment, guess I'll need to brush up on my positive self talk skills. *wink, wink*

  5. Hi Doyin, this is a wonderful story lool, witty and full of content. Unlike the rubbish i read in the name of having a blog. Thumbs up. Emem Nkamare

    1. loool. Ememo, thanks much dearie. I guess to each, his/her own.:-) I'm really glad you like. Do check back regularly for more. :-D Mwaaaah!

  6. lol, it's soooooo long, didnt realize, pele

    1. lool. Isookay, Issorait. Me I'm not complaining o, I like! :-D

  7. BTW, you need to pay your sister for publicity.
    phew, 3 comments in one day, I haf try.
    Oya I'll leave now:D

    1. lool. I've told her to present her company tax record history so I can begin to effect immediately, payments to her PR company.

      She still hasn't brought forward her tax records o.

      I dnt know d demons she's hiding in her closet. *shrugging shoulders*

  8. Another great masterpiece... The problem here is that there is a need for massive re-orientation of those in the civil service... The government is not even doing much to curb the menace... Those in the service need to have a sense of duty and a sense of commitment to their work... Just as u said, Jack Bauer was a civil servant and he was faithful and committed to his duties, I mean that guy can do anything for his country... I wonder how many civil servants can do the right thing at the right time... I wud still blame our govt becos this pple are paid the just occupy office space and at the end of the day, they would be the first to scream they have not been paid for 100months... ***smh indian style***...
    Kudos! Doyin for another good write-up!

    1. loool @ the 100 months gbese. hahahaha.

      Thanks so much Yomi. For your eye for all my tpyo and grammatical errors and your constant encouragement.

      I do hear what you are saying. I just wonder though, at what point do we damn government and begin to empahasize the role of individual accountability in Nigeria?

  9. Hmm... Doyin nice piece, indeed! First, I'd say the comments have really extended the scope of your note, and nicely done too! And then, you can't separate a people from their culture so the kneeling and what have you would remain in one form or the other. Also, I don't think the 'govt' so to say can do much to change the situation as she is only a subset of the people. Where there is no law, there is no sin. We have a culture of 'oga is king, kabiyesi o!' Lool

    When purpose isn't known, abuse is inevitable. Who recalls what civil means in Civil Service? Tell me the percentage of workers who feel a sense of 'working for themselves' rather than 'working for someone else'? How much self-respect can one have when you've always had to trade it for a favour or two? (Thanks to our many cultures) How do you explain the overflowing staff strength of the Civil Service in the guise of job creation?

    And to the so-called multinationals, 'hmmm... Sheep wey follow dog go eventually chop shit!' Just as a suit and tie wouldn't declare a mad man sane, where you work necessarily wouldn't cure you of ingrained tendencies. Who runs a business and uses its accountant as a driver? I bet the accounts would never balance!

    Not surprising that a vast majority of the working class hate their jobs, they just do it to make ends meet. How do you create a conducive working environment where policies and enforcing agencies do not exist? When would Nigeria leave the list of examples for HRM courses in enlightened schools?

    P.S.: Like Simbo, my note is disjointed, pardon me!

    1. Ajet, somehow somehow you have managed to reply every comment on this post with this your single comment. I have told you, go and start your own blog and stop using me!!!! looool

      Wonder why you guys think your notes are disjointed. Trust me, they don't come across as that at all. You make perfect sense.

      Only area I will battle you sha is that of kneeling down which you say would remain in one form or another. Perhaps, curtsy-ing, yes, but for me o, kneeling down at work? NEVER!

      P.S: Yes, I'm stubborn, I know. looooool

  10. Natural, real, down to earth, stuff an average Nigerian should relate to... Impressive.

    1. Gracias muchos! Wish I knew who you, though! :-)Do check back for more. ;-)

  11. Nice! Impressive! I actually wished u wrote those coversation of those two women in yoruba lol.
    On the civil service ...ish, I think our culture and religion play a role in our workplace whether good or bad but as we see it so many pple ve misused it.
    Just this week, a surbodinate colleague did something wrong and I corrected, d dude just flared saying he is nt my mate blah blah blah! I found dat very
    Irritating cos dis is nt abt age but abt hw we can move forward in d office, I gave it 2 it, didn't even care abt query. As a matter of fact u dnt rilly ve
    Bend ur knees before dy knw u respect dem. I personally tink respect shukd be earned. For example I bend my knee 2 my boss nt bcos m forced but bcos the man
    Has earned it and I ve great respect 4 him but 4 odas never.

    This is a nice piece..... Pple dnt knw their right that's why they allow their boss to use dem anyhow (some wuld even tell some of their workers to wash cloth, clean d house can u imagine!) Kai.
    I think pple need to read this a soji (wake up) like my pple say. Infusing our culture is good but we should not overdo it. Respect should be reciprocal.

    Educative stuff! All d best. Cheers!!!!

    Didn't proofread ooooo..... Hope I didn't make any blunder!

  12. Loooool. Torera ooo! Lwkmd @ (he ' I gave it to IT!' Hahaha. Thanks much love. I def can relate with that situation where workers are also turned into personal maids and all. It happens oh so often. Thanks for sharing your story, love and for 'giving it to it'!!!lol.

    About the blunnders, no shaking as long as you're getting your point across jare. Lool. Thanks so much dearie!

  13. well done Doyin. this is rich in depth.i guess we will unfortunately continue to witness this ugly practice until individuals are self aware enough to not boot-lick.Respect could be conveyed without necessarily being gross....but this RESPECT? i think it is CORRUPTION in disguise.
    perhaps this is best shared in the dailies to generate a national debate....well done to all respondents.

    1. "Anonymous", this time around I know you! Thanks a lot. Spoken like the true oyinbo that you are. hehehe.

      Regarding this publishing ish you've been hackling me about for quite some time now, we shall see. :-)

  14. Hmmmmnnn! Thoughts in my head.... I'm currently in the system. Doyin, u r so well informed. It even goes beyond that. The employees are the owns who instigate the self disrespect with their stupid self righteousness and just because you don't have children, you'll have to work over time or even take work home. I could go on and on and on, but the end point remains that the Nigeria working system is crap and the cause I think is because of the importance of respect in our culture that drives the employee nuts and the boss to dishing out excesses thinking he's doing you a fovour, so automatically, it makes you indebted.

    1. Hmmmn.... Afoma. Its clear you're writing from a DEEP place :-) You have thrown up so many issues here, I'm wondering where to start from. I think going through Simbo's comment would be apt in discussing your comment further.

      I'm really happy you commented dearie. Hope to see you around more often! :-)