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Stressful Nigeria

Stressful experiences in my daily activities in Nigeria and my take on sorting out these experiences.

Customer Service in Nigerian Banks

Every successful business organization knows the value of their customers and the need to constantly keep them happy. A happy customer base usually implies satisfaction with the service provided or goods purchased. And this translates to more patronage from loyal customers and in turn increase in the overall customer base. When the reverse is the case, businesses lose out on potential profit.

This scenario doesn’t seem to apply to Nigerian banks because Nigeria is densely populated. The demand from the populace on these banks is so overwhelming that these banks can get away with providing the worst possible customer service ever and still experience a growth in their customer base. The problem isn’t in the lack of capacity to provide a better customer experience, because Nigeria is filled with qualified unemployed youths that can handle such roles. The problem lies in the unwillingness of the banks to take their customers seriously enough to ensure that they are satisfied with the service provided. Customer service is obviously not a priority because if it were, there would be more than two customer service agents per bank. Visit any bank in Nigeria, you will only find two customer service agents attending to a swarm of customers. If you find more than two customer service agents in a bank, then it must be your lucky day.

overpopulation
Densely Populated Customer Base

Due to the swarm of customers hovering around the usual two customer service agents per bank, customers hardly get the level of service they deserve. The agents lose their courtesy and treat the customers like they are a burden upon them. If you happen to be a rich customer and know one or two of the bank staff, you can avoid all this stress, because you are taken into an office and offered the kind of service every customer should be receiving in the first place.

Crowded Hall
Crowded Banking Halls

I experienced such horrible service the other day at an Ecobank branch. The problem started when I tried to purchase groceries using my Ecobank Mastercard. The card was declined so I had to pay with another card. Then I tried using the card to withdraw some cash from an ATM, I got the following error “Issuer or Switch unavailable”. I then visited an Ecobank ATM and got the same error. At that point I was fed up and decided to visit a branch to withdraw over the counter. On getting to the branch, I was told I couldn’t use a withdrawal slip because I operate a current account. So I had to speak with a customer service agent at the branch there. The customer service agent was swarmed with customers as usual and I had to wait for at least 30 minutes before I could even get the chance to speak with the agent. I was eventually told to write an application letter to withdraw over the counter. I did this and was able to withdraw the money I needed only to be charged for that withdrawal. So this bank has failed to provide the service they were suppose to provide me with in the first place, put me through the stress of speaking to an over-crowded customer service agent and then charge me for all their troubles. Needless to say, I am not a happy customer and I will not be needing their service any more. The sad part is that they don’t even care that I am leaving because this is the normal kind of service they put their customers through and complaining yields more stress than resolutions. These issues aren’t exclusive to Ecobank, other people have faced similar or worse services at the hands of other banks. I certainly have faced similar issues at other banks but this is the most recent and therefore the most annoying for now.

Crowded bank
Another Crowded Bank

The customer service problem is not a difficult one to solve. If only the managers of these banks make customer service a priority. I know the the amount of customers some of these banks have to deal with can be overwhelming but if it is a priority, it can be resolved. For example, Industrial attachment students can be trained to offer these services at a very cheap rate if cost is a problem. NYSC Corpers are also another option, they can be exclusively trained to offer the best of customer service experiences still at a cheap rate. So you see, there’s really no excuse for the horrible service experienced by customers of Nigerian banks.

I’m 29. Single. Woman. Indian. — Medium

(Read:“You’re not married yet? Hawwwwwwww”)

Source: I’m 29. Single. Woman. Indian. — Medium

Representing the Nigerian Youth in its Governance

On Sunrise daily — A current affairs discussion program aired last Friday 09/10/15 on Channels TV, the presenters and their guests were talking about the partial ministerial list and their concerns about the candidates on that list. The candidates on the partial list comprised of former leaders in various aspects of governance of the country in the past administration. It lacked candidates who conform to what I feel is the public’s expectation of “change” and above all, it lacked youthfulness. One of the guests on the show, Professor Christopher Ogbogbo, a professor of History pointed out that “since 1960, we have been recycling the same group of people”. He compared our leaders of the past who were in their youthful age to our current leaders who are mostly in their 50’s and above. He also pointed out that most of our leaders today were indeed the same youths who lead us in the past. This shows us clearly that our youths have indeed being neglected from governance for a very long period.

Nigerian Youths
Nigerian Youths

Pearl S. Buck, a Nobel prize winning writer and novelist once wrote “The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation”. Due to the nature of our traditions and the reality of the economic situations we experience in our society today, I would like to define the Nigerian youth as any body between the ages of 13 to 35. Tradition was factored into this definition because in most parts in Nigeria, an adult of 35 years old is considered to be relatively young. Due to the harsh realities of living in Nigeria, or a recession hit world at the moment, you can find adults as old as 35 years still living with their parents. Many of these youths are graduates looking for something meaningful to engage themselves in. Pastor Poju oyemade of the covenant christian centre beautifully described this condition as a state of “Learned helplessness”. But despite these short-comings, the Nigerian youth has time and again shown their tenacity to strive and survive in the mist of all the hardships faced in the economy. We have seen local businesses and start-ups spring up from the sheer will and determination of the Nigerian youth especially without support from the Government. The Nigerian youth have also continuously proved their effectiveness in the driving of political campaigns be it on the streets or via social media. So, why have the youths been continually ignored from administration to administration? Why have they been shut out of politics? Is there a lack of confidence in the capabilities of the youths? or Is there a lack of political will to engage the youths in any meaningful decision making process? Perhaps, this is yet another consequence of the long term effect of corruption.

Youths rallying against corruption
Youths rallying against corruption

In Roger hart’s ladder of participation, Tokenism in my opinion was best used to describe the current state of the Nigerian youth in relation to their leaders. Tokenism is where young people (Nigerian youths in this example) appear to be given a voice, but in fact have little or no choice about what they do or how they participate. I chose tokenism because there are various youth groups especially political ones that claim to represent the Nigerian youth, but all they do is “sit on a discussion panel with no substantive preparation and no consultation with their peers”.

Roger hart’s ladder of participation
Roger hart’s ladder of participation

Representing the youth in the governance of Nigeria is no small challenge. it involves figuring out the needs and priorities of the different age groups according to their regions and making sure that their concerns are continually addressed in an efficient manner. Local governments should be legally obligated or empowered to support the youths in their constituency. They should ensure that youths are involved in the decision making processes at that level. This will positively empower the youths by improving their self-esteem and reducing depression thereby encouraging a greater commitment to the community. At this level, the energy, creativity, unique perspectives and propensity for action of the youths should be channelled towards driving real change in the communities.

Most policies made by the government directly affect the youths, so they know first hand the effects of these policies. At the very least, If the Nigerian youths are involved in the decision making process of the government, these policies would be greatly improved upon and the reception of such policies would be positive.

Let me to conclude with these words from Koffi Anan “Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered , they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society’s margin, all of us will be impoverished. Lets ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies.”

A Typical Example of the backwardness in Nigeria

One of my mates who now has a job working for the government in one of the Ministries advised me to constantly visit the federal civil service office in Zone 3 and check their notice boards for any vacancies so as to apply.

So as a “None-Slacking” applicant that I am, I quickly rushed down to their office and browsed through every notice board on every floor and also asked as many staff as I could. The resounding message on the wall was:

Visit https://vacancy.fedcivilservice.gov.ng for a list of vacancies and procedures on how to apply and submit applications.

I quickly rushed back home and typed the URL I was given but the page was unavailable. This is understandable as dozens of applicants were probably also trying to access that site at the same time. So I decide to try to access the page some other time.

Two days after I got the URL, I decided to try it again, this time I was redirected to the home-page of the Federal Civil Service Commission’s website. This website in my opinion was horribly designed. The main navigation menu didn’t have any indicators that they were links.

Even when you hover your cursor on the menu, you would get no indication that you were hovering on a link – no text highlighting, no underlines, no colour changes, nothing.

This is just one example of how horrible the site looks and feels. I hope this gets resolved soon as it looks like this site was not validated before it was commissioned.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. So on reaching the home page of the civil service commission, you are greeted with the following message:

FCSC RECRUITMENT PORTAL

The only way to complete application forms for vacancies in the Federal Civil Service of Nigeria.

Registration is open when there are published vacancies

To complete an application form, you have to register as a user, check your email for registration confirmation, then click the Apply Now link in the email. Enter your User ID and Password to access the application form, complete the application form and submit.

It is that easy!

Source – https://www.fedcivilservice.gov.ng on 20/08/2014

This looks easy enough to do right. Just visit the vacancies page, register if their is a vacancy and then apply – “SIMPLEZ”

So, I gladly clicked on the Vacancies section then current vacancies and fair enough, there were some positions being advertised and instructions on how to apply for these positions. The following is the instruction section that were posted on the current vacancies page on 20/08/2014:

  1. APPLICATION SUBMISSION

(a)        Online at https://vacancy.fedcivilservice.gov.ng

Application may be submitted through the Federal Civil Service Recruitment Web Portal (https://vacancy.fedcivilservice.gov.ng ), short listed Applicants will be notified with instructions on how to upload the following documents:

(i)         Photocopies of all qualifications;

(ii)        Last four (4) years APER in the previous or last post;

(iii)       Attestation of the Head of Mission or Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Online application submission will end three (3) weeks from the date of this online publication.

There is only one problem with this procedure. The application submission link takes you back to the home page of the federal civil service commision – https://www.fedcivilservice.gov.ng. It does not take you to a recruitment portal as suggested on the home page.

Basically, you are placed in a loop that begins at the Home page and leads you to the current vacancies page and back to the Home page.

Maybe, the recruitment portal is still under construction but if that is the case, then it should have been indicated at the Home Page.

I hope this gets sorted out soon.

Standards and Regulations: A Panacea to the failed Nigerian Project (Part 1)

According to the ISO, “A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.” While a Regulation is a “document providing binding legislative rules, that is adopted by an authority”. Basically, standards ensure that materials, products, processes and services do exactly what they are meant to do while regulations provide legislative powers to authorities that enforce these standards. The advantages and benefits of using standards and regulations include:

  • Support for societal and environmental policies
  • Offers consumer protection
  • Are used across different markets
  • Reflect the state of the art
  •  Disseminate new technologies
  •  Are used for conformity assessment to enhance confidence

Source: Using ISO and IEC standards for technical regulations

Nigeria claims to be the largest economy in Africa based on its rebased GDP even though ordinary Nigerians can’t attest to the benefits of such an economy. One of the reasons for rebasing Nigeria’s GDP was to take into account the growth in certain sectors of the Nigerian economy since the last time it was rebased in 1990. Some of the major economic sectors in Nigeria include telecommunication, manufacturing, oil and gas, transport, Entertainment, health, agriculture and Power amongst others. Although the growth in some of these sectors of the Nigerian economy is undeniable, the impact of such growth is not felt by ordinary Nigerians. There are various reasons why the impact of the economic growth is not felt by ordinary Nigerians, corruption being the major reason, but the lack of standards, its implementation and regulation in these economic sectors is an equally important reason. This part of the article will focus on three of the most important economic sectors in Nigeria and their regulators i.e. food/drug consumption, telecommunication and power. Subsequent parts of this article will cover other sectors and their regulators. Continue reading “Standards and Regulations: A Panacea to the failed Nigerian Project (Part 1)”

Fighting Boko Haram With Orientation and Public Awareness

Boko haram is a nuisance to the Nigerian society and they are clearly getting bolder with every successful attack. They are proving to be a difficult challenge for the government to overcome as the general public continues to loose trust in the ability of the Government to protect them. The government has failed to reassure Nigerians by carrying out reactive security measures rather than proactive ones. These reactive measures end up frustrating Nigerians and possibly expose them to further attacks as these measures are only carried out by the Government to save its face. Proactive security measures such as intelligence gathering, continuous public awareness and orientation amongst others are the first steps to take on the long road to restoring security back in Nigeria. This article attempts to suggest ways of providing continuous public awareness and orientation to the People of Nigeria.

Boko Haram Fighters
Boko Haram Fighters

The Nigerian society has always been made up of numerous and diverse communities both on the social and religious front. These social and religious communities can be targeted to continuously propagate anti terrorism messages. Nigerians of different age groups can be found in different societal structures like schools, universities, work places, churches, mosques, village community meetings, social clubs, business clubs, professional organizations and other public structures. The Nigerian public can also be reached through different media outlets like TV stations, radio stations, social media via the internet, billboards, bulk SMS messages, bulk email messages and so on. Continue reading “Fighting Boko Haram With Orientation and Public Awareness”

A False Sense of Security

Since the inception of Boko Haram in 2002, Nigerians have been plagued with increasing violent attacks to its citizens, Public institutions, Bus parks, religious buildings, Police, Military and politicians. High-profile locations like the UN building and the police force headquarters in Abuja have been targeted. More recently, a very busy bus park in Nyanya Abuja was attacked resulting in the deaths of at least 71 people and wounding 124 people. You can find a detailed history of the Boko haram attacks here as the Violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths between 2002 and 2013, and it continues to increase in 2014.

Dr. lionel von frederick rawlins, a forensic criminologist and the Security Coordinator at the American University of Nigeria, Yola provides a brilliant observation in my opinion of the activities of Boko Haram:

It has got to the point where Boko Haram is killing people because Boko Haram is now proving a point that it can kill and get away with it. It has gone beyond religion, politics and ideology. It is a belief: ‘I can kill people and I can get away with it and let me show you I can do it.’ That is what it is now. It is a showman thing. I know most people won’t think of that because they always believe it is religious or political. May be it was at the beginning when they said they were formed by a governor; maybe it was religiously-motivated when they wanted to Islamise the North and bring in Sharia law; all these may be true but it has gone beyond that. It has reached the point of ‘I can kill you and there is nothing you can do,’ and they have proven it; so the more they do it, the more emboldened they become.

After every high-profile attack like the one that happened in Nyanya, Abuja on April 14, 2014, the President Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and many other politicians in power come up with reassuring statements like “Boko Haram insurgency is a temporary challenge… We will surely overcome Boko Haram.”, “Boko-Haram will not disintegrate Nigeria”, and the classic line used by the defence minister Bello Halliru Mohammed stating that once again his men are “on top” of the security situation in the north. These are just words and they are certainly not re-assuring anybody. These words are as ineffective as the measures which they have carried out to eliminate Boko-haram. Measures such as declaring a state of emergency in some Northern states, using Air strikes to bombard certain boko haram sites, calling for dialogue with the terrorists, mounting security check points on major roads, barricading certain buildings with barriers etc. These security measures have done little to reassure Nigerians, rather they cause more grieve, frustrations and inconveniences to “ordinary” Nigerians. Continue reading “A False Sense of Security”

Dead Links

Websites are an extension of an organization on the internet designed to serve many purposes to its intended users. One of the most important functions of a website is to provide information to its visitors. If a website fails to provide information to its intended visitors, then no matter how beautiful or well designed the website is, it becomes useless to its visitors. A website is meant to provide sufficient information concerning most aspects of an organization that it represents. Many organizations keep certain aspects of their corporate activities away from their websites but every other aspect of the organization that should be represented on the site must be done so in a clear and precise manner.

Job hunters like myself at the moment spend a considerable amount of our time browsing the career sections of websites searching for possible Job positions we can fill. These career sections provide detailed information about current vacancies in an organization and how to go about applying for these positions. It also gives the applicant an idea of the organization’s culture and beliefs and the kind of people they want working for them. If there are no vacancies, it is clearly stated and occasionally, certain organizations will provide information about the periods of the year they post vacancies. Continue reading “Dead Links”

Immigration Test Day Tragedy

The Nigerian Immigration service recruitment exercise that was carried out on the 15th of March 2014 resulted in the death of certain unemployed Nigerian youths, our so called leaders of tomorrow. This carnage would have been avoided by simple planning. It was clear for all to see that sufficient effort was not put into the planning of the recruitment exercise. The organizers of this excercise failed woefully and as a result, lives were lost. Due to the public outcry as a result of the loss of lives, the Nigerian Government sprung into action by promising the families of the dead victims and the injured ones automatic employment into the Nigerian immigration service. In my opinion, this was so wrong on so many levels because first of all, it took the death of applicants for the Nigerian Government to realise the kind of stress unemployed youths have to go through to get jobs. I am not convinced they realise how much stress unemployed youmanagableths go through to get jobs and I feel they expect us to accept this stress because we are youths. Secondly, the Government have made a farce of our immigration service by giving the relatives of the dead youths and the other injured youths automatic job placements. Basically, the Government has implied by this action that anybody can do the job of an immigration officer no matter how rigorous or dangerous it turns out to be. There is no sense of accomplishment derived from getting a job in that manner and the integrity of our immigration service has been tarnished by the fact that literarily anybody can do the job of an immigration officer. Continue reading “Immigration Test Day Tragedy”

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