Are Nigerians lazy?

Now before I get accused of being racist I must state two important facts:

  1. I am Nigerian (and British)
  2. I read an article this morning with the headline: Are Nigerians lazy? Blame elders!

The writer disagreed with a  Nigerian bishop who last month said, “Many people are lazy. We seem to have a very poor attitude to work in Nigeria. We believe in free lunches, long vacations and so on. We believe in going on strike for months and expect our salaries to be paid.” Really?! Labour laws in Nigeria are incredibly unfriendly to employees. Workers in numerous states are owed salaries from government — some haven’t been paid for more than a year! Why wouldn’t Nigerians strike?

My goodness, I was outraged this morning by the bishop’s words but that was this morning. After sending and receiving a few emails since reading the article, let’s just say I’m no longer outraged by the question I’ve used for this post…

Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with the points he used to illustrate what makes Nigerians lazy but he may have been on to something. Ok, so that’s the annoyance from the email I just received coming out. The fact that I was irritated by a few people who happen to be Nigerian doesn’t give me license to generalise  my own people. I am however surrounded by Nigerians so permit me in this post to evaluate their attitude to work based on what I have experienced.

A colleague of mine recently passed away and I was devastated. He was one of the few people who could make me smile at 6am in the studio or in PCR before Good Morning Nigeria. Greeted with such a warm smile I would barely notice when he would slip a microphone pack under my clothes and clip it to the back of my bra! When my co-anchors and I spoke about him we would constantly say how much we liked him, how professional he was and the pride he took in his work. I must but hesitantly point out that he wasn’t Nigerian…

But I do thankfully work with some Nigerian people who have his spirit. I’m married to someone who works so hard I nearly feel guilty when I’ve got my feet up while watching TLC in the evening while he’s producing a jingle… BUT and it’s a big but, I’m constantly inwardly questioning the way people work here. Simple tasks are mishandled. Meetings are called with little or nothing solved. Common sense is a rare gem and yet so many people not only chase titles but somehow believe they are entitled to them despite their poor work ethic. These can all be attributed to laziness. If you need clarification on something laziness will stop you from finding the right person to help you understand how to complete the task. If you call for pointless meetings to feel superior its laziness that gives you enough time to do so. If you aren’t the brightest spark its laziness that keeps you dim. If you chase titles you don’t deserve you’re just a horribly lazy individual.

When I found out about the passing of my colleague it got me thinking about how I would be remembered when my time is up. How many people would talk about how hard-working I was? Who would recall how pleasant it was to work alongside me? Would anyone miss my ideas?

I’m a firm believer of questioning myself. It makes me a better person because I constantly realise I have things to work on. The people that emailed me this evening clearly don’t.

So are Nigerians lazy?

Hell yeah…but then again there are people from all walks of life in all corners of the globe that are lazy as well. Nigerian or not, lets all make an effort to be remembered in the same light as my late colleague and kick laziness to the curb. Amen.

P.S If you ever decide you want to send me an annoying email, I implore you to be lazy.

Don’t blame the media for your lack of knowledge

I tweeted about this post’s title this morning after reading an incredibly accurate and concise piece on blaming the media for our lack of knowledge.

I couldn’t have agreed with it more.

Since the awful terrorist attacks that shook Paris on Friday November 13th, I have read so many stories, comments, tweets etc about it that I didn’t feel I could contribute much further to the discussion. I didn’t particularly want to when comments about the attacks quickly turned into attacking anyone who showed any compassion for the lives that had been lost. If you added the French flag filter over your profile picture to show solidarity with French people then you acted on par with a corporate white supremacist. If you hadn’t tweeted about the Beirut suicide bombs the day before you tweeted about the Paris attacks then you were a hypocrite and a selective griever. God forbid you dared urge people to #PrayForParis…
I get it. There’s definitely a need to challenge the narrative presented to us by the media. The Delhi-based blogger Karuna Ezara Parikh beautifully reminded us to pray for the world and we should sympathise with innocent lives lost irrespective of their colour, ethnicity, beliefs or religion. Who should do all of this? The media? Ideally. But in the meantime, it’s our job to do so.

There is information everywhere but it’s up to us to decide how much of it we want to read and the measure in which we want to analyse it. I was amazed when I saw people on Facebook posting stories about the Kenya school massacre that took place in April. Apparently the story demonstrates that African lives don’t matter because of the lack of media coverage. This horrible attack happened while I was in Nigeria and was widely reported here but it was also widely covered by international news outlets at the time. If you just learned about what happened in Garissa University College don’t blame the media, blame yourself.

When I found out I was one of the Good Morning Nigeria anchors I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Eavesdrop on any heated discussion from a group of security people, bus commuters, television anchors or just about anyone in Nigeria with a heart-beat and you’ll likely hear them discussing a political issue. I’m tasked to be an expert in the field of politics. I may love politics but it’s not easy dissecting stories for people who already know the background of much of what I dissect. If I solely relied on the BBC, CNN or Facebook posts to tell me what was going on with the pro-Biafra protests in Abia State or the fuel scarcity crisis we are plagued with or how likely it is that APC’s promise of a N5,000 unemployment benefit for Nigerian youths would be fulfilled, I would be mute for most of our show. I find out about what’s happening in Nigeria not just because it’s my job to but because I want to know.

Likewise, with the Beirut bomb-blasts that took place a day before the Paris attacks, if you didn’t know about it, it’s because you didn’t watch/listen/read the news that day or you didn’t pay attention when you saw the headline or because you simply didn’t really care. I say this because of the tweet below and all the other similar tweets/comments/stories/poems I read — it’s untrue. What happened to fact-checking?

This was retweeted more than 50,000 times despite the fact major news outlets reported the Beirut bomb blasts.

This was retweeted more than 50,000 times despite the fact international news outlets did report on the Beirut bomb blasts.

There is another reason the bomb-blasts in Beirut may not have struck a chord as much as the Paris attacks and it’s the same reason I can at times skim through a story about a bomb-blast in Nigeria — we’ve become desensitised to suffering when it’s in places the media routinely reports on. I’d likely pay more attention to stories about bomb-blasts in Nigeria if I saw it happening in Lagos where I live rather than Maiduguri that is unfortunately frequently bombed…This is wrong but it’s true.

We no longer have to wait for the media to tell us what’s going on. There are citizen journalists out there that even influential media outlets rely on to know what’s going on in the world. If you want to know what’s going on in Africa or anywhere else outside of the West then look for the information. Ask a cab driver, follow analysts on twitter, download a history book for context and then share what you find out with the rest of us. The ball as they say is in your court.

What’s Your Hustle?

When I first moved back to Nigeria people asked me a lot of questions:

Why would you leave a civil country to live here?

Do you think your accent will make you successful?

How will you keep your colour?!

I heard a lot. Ignored most but was asked a question that to this day I continue to ask myself:

What do you do?

This seemed at the time a rather daft question considering the question came from my colleague at my new television job. I was a reporter at NN24 — chasing stories, writing scripts, editing and in my head an all-round bad-ass. This response it turns out was more daft than the question. After an unwanted but necessary discussion I came to discover that when a Nigerian asks you here what you are doing, they mean what do you do to get money aside from working for someone for a salary… or in essence, “what’s your hustle”?

Being an entrepreneur wasn’t in my immediate plans. I wanted the chance to be a journalist in Nigeria. I longed to report on stories close to my heart and help change the Africa narrative one story at a time. When I graduated from Columbia in 2010 I was offered a job where I would have the chance to make my dream a reality. My dad advised me to get more experience in the West before I did so and I reluctantly listened. More than a year later having worked for Fortune, the United Nations and the Atlanta Post I decided it was time to make the big move.

So there I was, with an Ivy League Masters degree and a new job under my belt yet, unable to impress my Nigerian questioner with my achievements. Now having moved back (again) to Nigeria two years ago, I fully understand why.

My working life in London and New York post graduation provided me with a salary I was happy with and a day in which I knew without fail my hard-earned money would be paid to me monthly. Now, let me tell you a bit about what it’s like working in Nigeria. In a nutshell, I have come to realise that working doesn’t guarantee payment or payment at an agreed time. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to work here and be paid on-time as I have experienced this but I have also experienced the flip-side and I am far from being alone. There are many state workers across the country that are owed salaries and pensions. I’m not talking about the odd month or so (as if that wouldn’t be so bad) but more than 12 months! Picture that. Working for more than a year without pay! T.I.N — this is Nigeria.

Living in Nigeria makes having an entrepreneurial spirit not optional but necessary. You simply shouldn’t or in most cases can’t rely solely on your salary. I got my thinking cap on and thought about a key follow-up question to what do I do — what can  I do. The answer and support from my amazing husband is what pushed me to think out of the box and register a company called OOTB Media Concepts.

I may have felt that being a journalist was the beginning and end of my story but Nigeria has helped me discover that there are more chapters to my story than I realised. This year has been a year of change giving me so much to adapt to yet I am still hungry for more change. My mind is constantly thinking of what’s next and that excites me.

Never stop questioning yourself:

What do you do?

What can you do?

Work these out and get busy!

Pants on the Ground

A town in Florida recently banned people from wearing trousers like idiots. It’s extremely pathetic that adults have to be threatened with punishment to stop “sagging their pants,” but unfortunately we are all sharing the world with morons. I even feel ridiculous typing the words sagging and rileypants because they sound so American. It is however a global issue. In every country I’ve visited and lived in I’ve seen human forms of Riley Freeman — Men and women who just can’t stop wearing their trousers low enough for me to know how often they change their underwear.

Citizens of Ocala, Florida are no longer to wear trousers that sag two inches below their waist on city property. First-time offenders will receive a warning; multiple-offenders could face up to six months in prison and a $500 fine. I’m sure lots of people think of young black boys like Riley being the main culprits but what about all the builders, maintenance workers and everyone else that seem to always bend over while working? For the love of God, can we not just throw them all in jail as well?

As much as I don’t regard myself a member of the fashion police, is it Bums up 31outrageous that I’m disgusted when someone’s butt is hanging out in my face?

I understand that saggy pants bring up more important issues than personal taste. For instance, the American Civil Liberties Union have pointed to the potential for racial profiling. Well, if everyone pulls their damn trousers up, no one will face a fine or prison if they don’t. Simple.

The power to legislate dress code is already used across America to ban public nudity, so is it really that big of a deal to ban the display of underwear?

So what will be banned next? Perhaps cleavage? What about 4 inch heels? I’ve heard these kind of arguments before relating to this issue and I’ve asked myself the same thing.

But what if sagging your pants was bad for your health? Would that make some of you reading that are against the ban change your mind?

Watch family physician and sex specialist Dr. Rachael Ross (the pretty doctor on The Doctors) explain the dangers behind sagging pants:

Abegi, (as we say here in Nigeria), do you need any more convincing?! Sagging your pants can lead to you struggling to have an erection and can damage nerves in your legs. Ladies and gentlemen, please pull up your trousers — for your own good.

Do you know what you’ll look like if you don’t? Watch my hero of the day explain below.

Are Child House-Helps Modern-Day Slaves?

Earlier this year, 8-year-old Sophia Shaidu was admitted to a hospital in Lagos after the flesh on her buttocks started rotting and producing puss. Sophia was beaten with a wire and a spatula by her guardian — a man she was sent to live with three years ago as a maid, (house-help) at the tender age of five.

Mr. Bashir Shuaibu reportedly inflicted the injuries on Sophia because she was a bed-wetter. The Chairman of the Lagos State Task Force on Environment and Special Offenses said Sophia’s guardian was only trying to correct the child. Well, this correction has left Sophia in intensive care needing skin grafting for her injuries to heal.
MDG : Child's handprint on a windowThere are many child house-helps like Sophia in Nigeria and the rest of the world that are in desperate need of help themselves. More than two centuries after slavery was outlawed, 29.8 million people globally continue to be subjected to new and diverse forms of servitude, according to the Global Slavery Index.

Haiti, India, Nepal, Mauritania and Pakistan have the highest prevalence of modern-day slavery, while in absolute numbers, China, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and Nigeria have the most people enslaved. In India, almost 14 million people are believed to be victims of modern slavery.

Are house-helps modern slaves? My gut, heart and brain tell me they are but lots of people I’ve spoken to about this don’t agree with me. I read a statement by Gulnara Shahinian, the UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, its causes and consequences. Here’s an extract from the statement.

“We know that comprehensive figures on the number of individuals subjected to contemporary forms of slavery are difficult to obtain. This is because contemporary slavery takes many complex forms, and often occurs in hard to reach areas of the country or what is perceived as the ‘private realm’, such as in the case of domestic servitude. Slavery-like practices also disproportionally impact on groups of persons already suffering from marginalization, discrimination (including caste-based discrimination) or who are otherwise vulnerable, difficult to identify and reach, such as children, migrant or domestic workers, and other groups…”

The practice of employing domestic servants otherwise called a house boy or house girl dates back to the days of old and these days busy parents find domestic help more necessary than ever. According to the Child Welfare League of Nigeria, Nigeria may have the largest number of child domestic workers in the world. Many of these children end up being physically, emotionally, and sexually abused.

I’ve listened to the stories of child house-helps that have been able to become educated and even well-to-do because of their poor parents making a hard decision to send their children to another home for a better life. I get it but I don’t like it. For every good family looking after and paying for child house-helps, there’s a bad family treating children in the same way Sophia Shaidu was treated.

The fact is, without a legal framework to protect these children forced into child labour, cases like Sophia Shaidu’s will keep making headlines. Many cases won’t even make it to press. But guess what, there is a legal framework here in Nigeria. The problem (like so many other laws here) is enforcing these laws.

In 2003, Nigeria adopted the Child Rights Act to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although this law was passed at the Federal level, it is only effective if State Assemblies also enact it. To date, only 16 of the country’s 36 States have passed the Act. Sophia was maltreated in Lagos, a state that has passed the act. I’m disgusted by the remaining 20 States that haven’t passed it. Can you think of a good reason to be against legislation that protects children? Well, when you have government officials that marry kids, you don’t have to be a genius to know why they wouldn’t want to pass the Act — it defines a child as anyone under 18. Some states see making marriage between an adult and a child illegal as out of tune with their culture.

Here is an excerpt from the Act:

Causing tattoos or marks, and female genital mutilation are made punishable offences under the Act; and so also is the exposure to pornographic materials, trafficking of children, their use of narcotic drugs, or the use of children in any criminal activities, abduction and unlawful removal or transfer from lawful custody, and employment of children as domestic helps outside their own home or family environment.

So the sorry excuse for a man who beat the poor defenseless girl should be imprisoned right? I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that if I was you. I feel so sad saying that but unfortunately the truth is there are too many criminals like this animal that aren’t behind bars.

I’m not even keen on maids either but slavery is something I can never tolerate — irrespective of the name we disguise it with here in Nigeria. The promise I’ve made to myself is that I will never have a child house-help. I hope you all make that promise as well.

How to Make New Friends

A few days before I relocated to Nigeria, I wrote a blog post about the fears I had about moving to a new country. I focused more on my fear of demons, (blame Nollywood), but another fear I didn’t really discuss deeply was my disastrous ability of making new friends.

Yes, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always had this issue. Despite my choice of career, I am naturally shy and a terribly, annoying, complicated, introvert. First-days are always dreaded days as I picture having to introduce myself and maintain eye-contact, an acceptable level of laughter, witty comments…blah, blah, blah — nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like meeting new people, I just find it quite tasking trying to impress people with my being. That’s in essence what you’re doing when you meet new people — convincing them that you’re worth their time.


Acting as my own personal sales person has made me go through life dreading every new school and job I move to. I’m sure most of you have as well but you probably don’t feel as nervous as I do during these moments. Some of you may even enjoy the idea of making new friends/associates. Unlike any other time in my life, moving first to New York and then to Nigeria, meant that I didn’t have my old friends as a safety-net if making new friends proved too challenging. Now that I have moved to Nigeria, got my dream-job and apartment, it seems I am here to stay. Its recently become incredibly clear to me that despite my amazing boyfriend and the time, shoulder, ears and arms he lends me with ease, I need friends.

There’s no shame in it. Making friends after university is a female dog. Making friends when you’ve moved to a new country….well, it’s not for the faint hearted.

I’ve had amazing conversations in the past few days that inspired me to put this post together. The conversations were all so insightful that I decided I should share them here.

Conversation 1 — I was told after complaining it was so hard to make friends in Nigeria, that I was in fact to blame for my lack of pals. Apparently, my tolerance level for new people is rather low and not compliant with the amount of tolerance needed when meeting new people. I got defensive about that critique but soon realised there was truth in what I was told. When I meet new people and we have misunderstandings or the person does something that really grinds my gears, I easily tell myself, “ergh — to the left, to the left.” I’m too quick to forget that the friends I have back at home in London didn’t become my friends overnight. We’ve spent years getting to know each other, annoy each other, forgive each other and most importantly, love each other. The new people I’m meeting and being so quick to write-off haven’t had the chance to really know who Eno is. I haven’t had the chance to know them either…

Conversation 2 — A bible was brought out folks. There’s no bigger killer while lloyd_christmastrying to defend yourself than a person armed with this holy book. The topic of discussion was forgiveness. Apparently, another cause of my friend deficit in Nigeria is the fact that I have harboured grudges against people I class as having the same mindset as Lloyd Christmas. It’s not that I’m easily offended, it’s just that I have pet-hates — rudeness and ignorance. Once I’ve marked you mentally as offenders of my pet-hates, it becomes apparent that the marker I used was permanent.

Having the reminder that unforgiveness is poisonous was definitely an unwelcome reminder. Here are the verses I was shown:

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31, 32 KJV).

I know all of this though. I’ve heard it a million times but knowledge of something as opposed to putting it into practice is two very different things. Forgiveness takes humility and although I consider myself to be rather humble in most situations, having enough humility to forgive someone after they have offended me seems to be something I’m struggling with. When I meet someone and they annoy me, I find it easy to decide that the person and I are just two very different people that probably won’t be able to get along. This way of thinking will leave you without friends not only in a new country but wherever you find yourself. Patience is essential when meeting new people. You have to decide to forgive and forget if you’re really serious about adding to your friend bank. If however the person is just a douche-bag then it’s still possible to forgive the person but obviously avoid making friends with someone who will add no value to your life.

This is what I find most difficult — forgiving and still being able to say hello to the person in question when I see them. The person I had the second conversation with that I mentioned earlier has instructed me to greet a person I no longer relate with at all. I seriously shudder at the thought of saying hello to the person — I’m likely to choke with all the humble pie I’ll have to force down my throat to be able to do this. I will eventually say hello and I’m sure this will help me in my new quest to become a more forgiving person. For now, I’m just trying not to roll my eyes when I see the twit lady.

Conversation 3 — I was told by someone about a friend of his that is having a hard time making friends in her new office because in her opinion she is being misunderstood. People at work have begun murmuring about her attitude and have concluded she is a snob. She has decided that the best way to sort out this misconception about her character is to further seclude herself from people who are in her opinion too judgmental and too difficult to be friends with. I feel her pain because I’ve had the same things said and thought about me for much of my adult life.

A few months ago I went out to cover a story with a colleague. After an awesome day, she told me that she used to not like me. Surprised, since I had never really spoken much to her, I asked why and she told me that she thought I just kept to myself and wasn’t interested in getting to know people. It was good to hear because I’ve always resolved to do just what the lady I have talked about wants to do. I pull further away from people who misunderstand me instead of opening up my heart and allowing them to get to know who the real Eno is. The result of distancing yourself from people who misunderstand your character is the same people further misunderstanding you…duh!

So, my three conversations have made me conclude that in order for me to make new friends in Nigeria, I need to:

1. Increase my tolerance level
2. Be more forgiving
3. Stop secluding myself from new folk

I’ve been putting all three of these points into practice at work and I’ve been taken aback by the difference its made. My life feels less stressful – I say life because let’s face it, most of our lives are spent at work so if we’re not happy at work, it’s likely we’re generally not happy at all wherever we are. I’m opening up and enjoying the changes. Give it a go if you’re an annoying introvert like I am and I guarantee you’ll be a happier person.


There is no guarantee these steps will work for you.

What You Learn in Your 20s

I think I’m having a semi mid-life crisis. I had one when I was 20, 24 and 25 as well. I felt excited to be 26 last year, (still can’t figure out why), but now I’ve got a feeling a crisis is brewing as September creeps closer. If I’m right, while my Facebook timeline has a surge of activity due to people too cool for school, wishing me a “hpy bday,” instead of a, “happy birthday,” I’m likely to be deep in thought. As the years pass, I worry that I haven’t achieved as much as I should have and wish I could go back in time to become an inventor, PHD graduate or the millionaire I clearly by now should be.

Yes, these are the thoughts that run through my mind, make me feel old and cause me to feel like I’m having a semi mid-life crisis. Thankfully, these depressing thoughts have a great way of motivating me to achieve more. I guess crisis isn’t the right word — reflection is. I’ve experienced semi mid-life moments of reflection.

crisis_communication1I usually have to type a whole blog post to better understand my feelings. I literally begin a post not knowing what my conclusion will be, which aside from being therapeutic, is rather fun. Today however, I have a good idea what my concluding thoughts in this post will be because I’ve spent time for the last couple of years thinking about it. The title probably gives that away.

A few days ago I read a great piece in the New York Time’s Opinion section called, What you learn in your 40s, and started considering what I had learnt so far in my 20s. I jotted points down and soon realised I was writing a short novel so knew I had to share some words of wisdom on my loved but often forgotten blog.

Here are some things I now know that I wish someone told me on the eve of my 20th birthday when I had my first semi mid-life crisis…ehem, semi mid-life moment of reflection:

1)    You are still young in your 20s. I know it feels like play-time is over but you’re still in your skates but there really is enough time to have fun while working hard.

2)    You can’t escape working hard. Seriously, one way or another, you’re going to dream about being on a beach on a regular basis because even if you love your job, you’ll realise it can be hell at times.

3)    Going on holiday is better than buying clothes.

4)    Most of your wise decisions as a teen were incredibly stupid. With this knowledge, you’ll make the same terrible decisions a few more times.

5)    Your terrible decisions will mostly be linked to the guy or female you date. The good news is you won’t spend as long as you did as a teen to work out when the person you are dating is a scum-bag.

6)    You’ll think you’ve fallen in love but realise later that you’re still crap at selecting who you should be in a relationship with.

7)    You’ll love being single but hate not having a girlfriend/boyfriend. You’ll never admit the latter.

8)    Staring up at your ceiling and reflecting with sadness the wrong decisions you have made while you lie on your back on your bed isn’t cliché — it’s necessary.

9)    You will fall in love and believe/hope you’ll get married and live happily ever after. You won’t be able to until you’ve got somewhere for you both to live and other things that may seem shallow but are incredibly necessary.

10) LOL, BFF, LMFAO, STFU etc are acronyms you need to stop using if you want to be taken serious by serious people.

11) You need a car. Not to show off with but for boring things like food shopping.

12) Your parents are awesome — you’ll regret the times you pushed them away. The good thing is, if you’re lucky enough to still have them around, it’s not too late to build a relationship with them.

13) You’ll put on weight. If you don’t do something about it, you’ll just get fatter. Talking about joining a gym for months surprising is no substitute for working out.

14)  You don’t have to go out every weekend. There’s no shame in putting on a onesie and watching Scandal with a glass of wine.

15) Vodka is disgusting.

16) You should have made more of an effort to learn how to play pro-evolution and FIFA because grown-ups still haven’t grown out of playing these boring games.

17) Eating-in is cheaper than eating out. Cooking demonstrations on YouTube are a God-sent.

18) 8 hours of sleep will make you feel sick/lazy. 6 hours feels reasonable but you’ll still fall asleep involuntarily during the day.

19) Questioning aspects of the religion/faith you were born into doesn’t make you a devil — it proves you are in fact human with a functioning brain.

20) Chase your dreams NOW. Save yourself from regretting in your 30s what you didn’t and could have achieved in your 20s.

I could type forever but I feel it’s fitting to stop at 20. What have I missed out on my list?