Recall our commendation given to Lagos State Government (click here to read) for the unexpectedly impressive customer service rendered in one of its offices? In a very wide contrast, a new recruit at Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing who just returned from overseas shared with us his torrid experience. Of course, his identity is veiled to protect him and this job he’s managed to secure. Read his heartbreaking story below:
“Upon receiving an appointment letter from the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) deploying me to the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, I was then instructed to take said letter to the Minister’s Office at Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. I immediately, optimistically, embarked upon the documentation procedure at the aforementioned Federal Ministry office building. This documentation process, I didn’t know, would entail a pretty frustrating experience that would extinguish that glimmering optimism I initially had and kill my faith in the Nigerian civil service workforce.
Upon getting to the security post at the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing building, I presented my letter to the pleasant security folks and was let in. I asked several staff there for direction to the Minister’s office and was met with unfriendly stares and curt, unintelligible responses that were more dismissive than explanatory.
‘Please where is the Minister’s office?’, I asked. One lady just rolled her eyes at me, another man I asked just motioned ‘up’, while still walking briskly. None of them actually took the time to explain how to get to my requested destination. The animus in the building was contagious and palpable. Still, I eventually made my way to the Minister’s office.
‘Hello, good morning’, I say to the two men and a lady I see seated, ‘I’m here to begin my documentation’, I added, while displaying my appointment letter with a grin. ‘You’re here to do your documentation or you’re here to do documentation’, a man retorted combatively. ‘I am here to do documentation’, I acquiesced. ‘This man must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed today’, I ruminated. He took my appointment letter and stamped on it and told me to take it to the office of the Permanent Secretary.
‘Good morning, I’m here to do documentation’, I say to the lady I met at the Perm Sec’s office. A man there replies, ‘this is the wrong office for that’. I return to the Minister’s office and relay this response to the man I had met and talked to earlier. ‘So you don’t even know what you’re here for’, he explodes. ‘Documentation’, I quipped. ‘Go back there and tell them you’re from the Minister’s office and show them this stamp, they’ll tell you what next to do’, he says, angrily. ‘Sir, please give me a more coherent message to pass on to these people so I won’t have to come back here and meet your ugly face’, I say in my head, not to him, lest I aggravate him even further. While all this was taking place, I occasionally glanced at the other two people in the room (a man and a woman) to check if I could connect with any of them, only to be met with looks of disgust from them. ‘What is wrong with me today? Why is everybody here so pissed at me?’, I wondered.
I returned to the Perm Sec’s office and presented my stamped letter as the grump had told me to do and was told to check back the subsequent week. Long story short, my letter spent a week in the Perm Sec’s office with no further progress before I left Abuja.
This whole ordeal serves to highlight why the average Nigerian youth is timid and overly submissive. You realise upon entering into offices as the aforementioned and notice that it’s as if they perceive confidence and quickly get irritated at it and want to break it or eliminate it altogether. This same dynamic happens in the classrooms of Nigerian institutions: there’s a reason why the average Nigerian student struggles within himself to ask a lecturer or teacher a question. This is because that “teacher” or “lecturer” could turn around and deride the student for asking what the “teacher” deems a stupid question or a question one shouldn’t be asking at such a stage or level. As a kid, I remember being so boisterous and lively in class; I always asked questions and sought clarification whenever necessary. But all that began to change as soon as I approached 8 years old and older. After getting derided so many times for asking “useless” questions, it was only a matter of time before I quit asking questions altogether so as not to be derided.
It’s probably only in Nigeria where a university lecturer gets irritated when a chunk of his students pass the course he teaches. It’s as if it is impossible to achieve that. Many times, the “lecturer” brags that nobody can get a score of 100% in his course, and one begins to wonder, ‘why would a lecturer be such a killjoy even to the students he teaches? The purpose of teachers is to ensure they bring out the best in their wards and not stifle their progress.
Back to Nigeria after being away in the US for a while, my experience at the Ministry was a rude awakening, a departure from all I experienced in the States. I was reminded once again this is Nigeria where antagonism and open hostility are the order of the day. Now, this is not to say that there are not pleasant, nice people in Nigeria; it’s just that the number of such people is few and far between that when you eventually cross paths with them, it’s refreshing to enjoy their humanity.”
This is the general reaction of most Nigerians that have encountered any office/officials of the Nigerian civil service. Why is it so difficult for these people to be simply civil? We are so angry inside that it just spews forth to the daily interaction with others, justifiably or not. Kai! Biko, K ‘n’ K tire to even rate this on the K ‘n’ K Wow-Meter.
What’s been your experience: deserving of some hard Knocks or worthy of Kudos? Please share with us in the comments below.