Horrible Bosses: The Lagos Hustle

Surfing through the internet this morning, I came across a piece that described what working with startups in Lagos look like. It was a comprehensive talk on all the stress that comes with working with some business owners. The writer sounded bitter and angry, and I couldn’t help but agree with most of the points they made.

In Lagos, a lot of bosses just want to milk their employees dry. They ask workers to resume early and close really late. They come up with deadlines for every task and punish workers who they do not meet up. But they do not, in any way, look out for the wellbeing of these people.

Most employers in Lagos, are slave drivers! They take their workers for granted no matter their qualifications. All an employee needs to do to be laid off, is to fall sick. Employers replace workers at the slightest misunderstanding. And even withhold payment to show superiority. They do nothing to keep them or grow with them. They are everything the blogger described them as, and some are even worse.

But I have a different story. More than most persons, I have worked with startups and my time with them has not been so gory. My employers, at different times, provided me with opportunities to learn and to improve my skill. They practically held me by the hand and showed me the path to take. For them, my self-development was as important as clinching the next big deal. Yes, my work with them was about improving the quality of my output.

Knowing now that they are two sides to the story about employers in Lagos, I think it is safe to say that they should not all be judged as the same. It all boils down to a person’s personality: their character and their attitude to things of sentimental value.

When a person institutes a company or an establishment, he sets goals for himself. From then on, everything he does is to ensure that his goals are met. The kind of people he employs, the equipment, and the location of his company all have to fit into the big plan.

Despite their plans, goals, and structures, some of them don’t get so lucky with employees. Some workers get into some organizations and everything goes bad. They steal, lie and cheat. They engage in unhealthy competitions and backbite. The company just begins to die the moment they get in.

So employers who have been that unlucky just learn to build a high wall. If anyone suffers from associating with people who don’t share in their vision, they would do the same.

Everyone knows that Lagos is one of the most populous cities in Africa and that resources are quite scarce. The rush for the city makes it easy for employers to lay workers off. They know that the moment one person leaves, another fills in for them. People are always available and there will always be someone willing to work for less.

The fact remains that Lagos never sleeps. Everywhere you look and at every point in time, Lagosians are working; hustling twice as hard to survive. Every street corner is someone’s business center, the roadsides have become a means of livelihood for many. When people make efforts to invest, they want to ensure that it really pays off.

So yes, there are slave drivers in Lagos and there are good employers. Most times, the journey of life takes us where we do not want to go. We fall into the wrong hands and we become worse for it. Some other times, we meet people whose association help us grow.

My point is: the kind of cheating and mistreatment in workplaces that we have just described is not peculiar to a place or a region. There are stories of people suffering at the hands of employees in other places within Nigeria. The only reason we do not speak of them as much is that they are not as popular as Lagos.

Beyond all the weird and scary stories about Lagos, the city is a beautiful one. I call it the City of Dreams. Whatever your plans are for your business or career, you will achieve if you are dogged. However, it might not be that conducive to raise a family. Keep your family away from drama while you build your empire.

Living in Lagos is not for the faint-hearted.

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