One day I was having a conversation with a very successful business man in Nigeria and he asked me if I had ever ventured into a personal business before. I told him I had and that was in 2005 when I ran a café centre in Lagos. He asked to know how much I started the business with, how much I made at the end of every year and why the business folded.
In 2004, I got a loan from my dad to run a café centre in Lagos. My dad was able to give me 1.5million Naira which I started the business with. I had two staff members in my pay role and paid them ₦50,000 each every month. It was an exciting time in my life, seeing little me set up a business which was fast rising and became a household name around the place. The café attracted all manner of people ranging from the working class who had one delivery or the other, to retired people who just wanted to surf the net on latest happenings around the world and some times, reply mails from their children or loved ones. The café also had the “street boys” who came to their own business, students who came to apply for admission and a host of others. The café was really booming and on daily basis I made close to ten to fifteen thousand Naira depending on the turn out for that day. Just when business was hitting its peak, rivals struck! New entrants into the business decided to maneuver by tipping the men in black to raid my café in the name of arresting internet fraudsters. They did this repeatedly for a month and before I realized the tactics, I lost my customers. People stopped coming to my café in order not to get embarrassed by the cops and so gradually that business died.
After narrating this story to the man, he asked what I learnt from that experience and after sharing, he shook his head and said “you are to blame for your current level in life. Do you know you would have been multi-millionaire if you had continued in that business?” he asked. For some seconds I felt this man didn’t pay attention to my story. How would I have stopped the police from storming my café? How would I have known it was the hand work of my rivals? Why would I have even bothered? I mean I was just a very little kid trying out some new things. For me, it was not a do or die affair and I already was impressed with my achievement. So why would I even bother? I thought to myself. “Many of us do not know our rights, many of us die in silence and are quick to blame the government or the next person for anything that happens rather than ourselves” he said. “In Nigeria, when we take decisions we look down rather than look up” he added. The fear to take the bull by the horn, the fear to step out of our comfort zones, the fear of the unknown.
Most times, these bankers should be blamed for their predicaments. Why would you want to remain in a place that deprives you of your happiness and life? A place that makes you feel less than who you really are? I am not advising all bankers to resign; someone needs to do the work but all I am saying is that your life is yours to live and nothing whatsoever should deprive you of that. Many times bankers are sacked from their jobs and in only 6-12 months we see them and wonder at how well they are doing. Why wait till you are asked to go? Why don’t you start thinking and working on other options so you can always have something to fall back on when push comes to shove?
You bankers out there, you have a right to fair treatment at your work place, no one and I repeat no one has the right to live your life. You should make your voice heard, speak! When you are maltreated at your work place. You are supposed to be a professional, you are supposed to be seen and envied and not pitied. The Nigerian labor law has your back, the social media is there to make your voice heard! And if you apply all these media and you don’t get the desired result, quit your job! It is not the end of life.