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Our descent to self destruct

Chinemerem Uche

Facebook will always ask a user, “What is on your mind?” I have been worried and quite unhappy and this has led me to punch down what is on my mind.  The civil service of Nigeria is on my mind.  When I reflect on the work habit and attitude of civil servants in Nigeria, I get worried, sometimes pissed off and frustrated and even up to the point of nearly getting getting depressed.  I want to start by thanking God for my parents who taught me dignity, commitment, honesty and passion to labour, -irrespective of whom I am working for.  They taught me to throw in my best and they taught me to know that I can be that one man who can change the landscape of the society for good.  Presently I feel sad because all these they taught me have taken me captive and I find it difficult to plug into the Nigerian civil service.  I am not assuming a holier than thou attitude but honestly what my parents taught me seems not to be compatible with the psyche of the  average  Nigerian working in the  civil service.
I could remember more than ten years ago, when a head of department was addressing her colleagues on the need to be punctual and attend to duties.  She went ahead to sermonize that civil servants should try and justify their pay by putting in enough man hours to work.  Just as she was about finishing her admonition, one of the staff interrupted, “What we owe Government is to report to duty, write down our names on the attendance register.  Once we have done this, Government owes us a duty to pay us our salaries, whether we worked or not.” Another one chirped in, “The problem with we Igbos is ‘I-too-know’ attitude.  We can never be our brothers’ keeper.  Go to the North, there are people who do not report at all to work, all they do is to show up at the end of the month to collect their salaries.  Over here we are killing ourselves about work.”  I was in that meeting.  What my parents taught me about work came to limelight suddenly and I began to think that maybe my parents got it wrong.  Had it been I am not a Christian seeking to be like Christ, I would have queried the teachings of my parents about work and labour.
If asked to summarize the activities of civil servants so far with my little experience, I would say it is a conglomeration of peoples of different tribes and ethnicity working and heading towards self destruct.  I will also say that the civil service seems to be a dumping ground for psychopaths, delinquents, drunkards, reoccurring failures, the depressed and the “unhelpables.” The civil service in Nigeria has become an asylum sort of, where relations, sympathizers, friends and the well connected dump the “problem humans” to see if a regular or monthly wage could help tame their ill ways.  I have had an ugly experience of trying to engage a civil servant who absconded from his duty post for more than a month.  I ended up being the bad person.  To most of those who saw how I was serious about bringing the young man back to his senses, I was merely being wicked and seeking to sack the young man from work.  The decay in the civil service is collaboration and this collaboration is strong.  When I mean strong, I mean very, very strong!
Civil servants come to work with a resolute mindset to destroy the system that pays them.  Anybody who does not fit into this vision of destruction is labeled either a lunatic or a wicked person.  The labour unions have a better name for people who oppose self destruct in service –“SABO.” (Sabo is a short form for Saboteur).  When I look back at our national history as it involves the health of institutions, I come to the conclusion that if our nation must survive, the Civil service should be abolished.  What?  Has this wicked man carried his wicked mindset into the media?  Some may ask and exclaim.  Yes I have!  From my own locality where I am writing from, I used to know about NITEL but where is NITEL today?  Who killed NITEL?  Where is Avutu Modern Poultry?  Who killed it?

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