WHERE DO WE BEGIN TO RE-BRAND NIGERIANS?
By Charles Adesiyan.
April 29th, 2009
I have leaved all my lives in
Nigeria. Expectedly, I should have thoroughly
imbibed the sprit and culture of Nigeria.
Fortunately or I dare say unfortunately, (because
the lesson from the following story has left a big
burden on my mind) within the decade, I have had few
opportunities to travel out of Nigeria. My first of
such travels became for me, an eye opener- I have
had to leave with the burden of the desire for us as
a people to do things right.
Sometime ago, on my first visit to the United
States, I was traveling on a bus from New Jersey to
Maryland. At some point we had a stop over at a
petrol station. As we approached the station, the
driver of the bus announced to us that we would be
stopping for five minutes. I thought within me,
that, that was a good opportunity for me to get
myself a light refreshment as I was beginning to get
hungry. On getting down from the bus, I made for the
small store within the petrol station; picked some
snacks and drinks from the shelf. As I moved to the
clerk to pay for these items, I found a number of
people on a queue wanting to do the same. So I
joined the queue. At some point, I realised that the
time to get back to my bus was very near and I still
had a few more people ahead of me. In my seemingly
normal way of reasoning, I decided to move ahead of
the queue to the clerk to try to hurry her up. I
believe most of the people on the queue were not
traveling. I remember saying words like "couldnít
you see that people are many on the queue? Why donít
you hurry up so we donít miss our bus, am on a
journey and my bus is about to take off. Please
answer me and let me leave this place" in my own
opinion she was wasting too much time on every
individual. If I was expecting the response I got to
those statements it would have been a lot better for
me. I was not. Almost in a split second, all eyes
turned to me in a manner like "where on earth is
this man from? Why is he so indecent and un-couth?
And perhaps many more of such questions running
through the minds of practically everyone present
from the looks on their faces.
On her part, the lady clerk asked me just two
questions. The first was "did the bus driver mention
in his announcement that you have only five minutes
to stay at this station? Second was "when you got
into the store did you figure, that with the number
of people you met on the queue, five minutes would
be enough for you to get your turn? Sincerely, I
just could not answer those questions because at
that point I had realised my mistakes. That
experience and the shame I felt has been for me
I decided to share this experience for some reasons.
Amongst them, the fact that from where I came, that
behavior wouldnít have been viewed in any bad light,
it would have been a normal thing to do in the face
of the circumstance. Other people would have joined
in raising their voices too. Today, when I look at
our society, I realise how much we have lost in
terms of simple etiquettes and mannerism, and
thinking that these actually cuts across all the
strata of society, regardless of status, makes me
Have you witnessed an average customer service desk
of a typical Nigerian bank? New and old generation
banks, it doesnít mater, the way 10 or more people
try to speak to the officer at the same time, or an
average fast food restaurant, street corner
supermarkets or store, petrol stations, name it.
Everywhere you go, this is the norm. Sad enough,
nobody seems to notice that something is wrong. I
have witnessed situations where some so called
mystery shoppers would approach a bankís customer
service officer and put up this same show of shame
as a way of trying to measure the officerís ability
to handle such horrible situation. How well she
handles it is the measure of how good she is at the
job. In my opinion, these mystery shoppers should,
rather than encourage people to behave this way,
urge the bank to encourage their customers to behave
decently. It would be a service to the nation.
Itís a common sight to see people roll down the
windows of their expensive looking air-conditioned
cars, to throw dirtís on the street. This does not
mean anything to anybody. Itís the norm. Correct any
wrong doing and hear peopleís response. Watch our
children, the way they have religiously imbibed
these spirits. Attempt to correct them and watch the
expression of surprise on their faces. As if saying
"whatís wrong with what I have done"
The question is do we have a future? If we do, then
where do we begin from?
May God help us?