INSIDE NIGERIA: On the Wrong Use of the Word “Manage” (My Personal Experience)

Posted: November 22, 2013 in Articles, INSIDE NIGERIA
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by Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo

The word “Manage” has so been skewed on the lower class that it has now lost its meaning. In the Third World, “To Manage” has become a compulsory ritual that the lower class must daily perform else their day will never be complete. It has now become a norm to see in those regions, people living in half-collasped mud houses adjacent a diamond mine, bamboo stick huts a few kilometres from an oil well, or an unelectrified region hosting a power plant.

In Nigeria, it is very common to hear people make use of the word; “Manage”. Manage this and manage that. Sometimes the word is used correctly and depicts its original meaning, but sometimes it is not. Sometimes it means that you should keep quiet and accept whatever crumbs that fall from The “Ogas at the top” tables.
How often do we Nigerians alter our standard of expectation? How often do we fall for these words:
“Bros, Manage naaa…na just small time, E go better”,
“You are almost through, why not just endure it to the end”,
“Being a Boarding Student in Secondary School is hard, just manage ooo”
“University Hostel is not your father’s house, so just manage, you will soon graduate”
“NYSC Camping is only three weeks, just take heart and bear with whatever you encounter”

We are often implored to manage, and to bear the most unbearable, uncomfortable and less than desirable of housing, schooling, medical, security facilities etc. Alas! In the midst of plenty.

My experiences with Nigerians and our wrong use of the word; “Manage”, traced back to my secondary school days. I was admitted into my alma mater (name withheld). One of the oldest schools in the nation, and one that has produced many great men. But my experiences there were neither one of greatness nor one to be proud of. I think that all that my alma mater retains of its former greatness are its Oldness and the zeal of some of its students to survive. One does not need a lesson in History to appreciate the wrinkleness and dilapidation that is now my alma mater. The building that is the junior block, a two storey uncompleted and unpainted building holds more students than a local Poultry. We were arranged two classes (sometimes three classes) in a space made for one. We were over a hundred students, each behind a desk and a chair. This meant that a teacher could not move about the classroom, but could only move from the door of the classroom to the front of the class and back. The overpopulation plaguing the school reached a chronic stage that part of our dinning hall and school hall extension were converted to classrooms. We were told to manage, “Money no dey”, there is no money. Yet our leaders were busy living their extravagant lives in our very before, and our principal was busying completing his duplex.
My alma mater was (and still is) flooded with children, who came nursing great dreams, only to be conditioned into managing…only to be conditioned to perpetually accept far less…only to find themselves striving to survive in this wave of destructive managing that has become the bane of Nigerian Society.
Our hostels and boarding life are corpses better left unexhumed. The thing I remember most about hostel life was the constant hunger. Dinning food were always very little and very poorly cooked. It was (and still is) a norm to be starved as a boarding student. Parent know this, teachers maintain this and the students endure it. It is part of the training they told us.

After graduation, I got admitted into the university. I decided to move to the school hostel against the advise of my friends. This decision I soon regretted. My room was adjacent the toilet. The odour of piss and shit that emanated from there could trigger permanent emigration in most animals. We, the occupants of the room had to take turns pouring water in the urinary just so our nasal systems would not disown us. We were sixteen in our room, cramped like sardine in a room meant for eight. I needed no divine calling in the middle of the night to depart from there into the land of Canaan (which in my case was the off campus).
Lectures for freshers were a nightmare. From fighting to get a lecture venue, to fighting to get a sit at all in the lecture. It was almost a perfect photocopy of my alma mater. We were over-crowded in a class, haven been combined three departments, which made our total number on the upper side of five hundred. There were times we had general classes, where over a thousand students of one faculty or more were assembled inside one hall that has the capacity for five hundred. This was clearly not an education, it was Lamarck’s theory been put to test. It was indeed “The Survival of the Fittest”. We did survived but by learning how to manage in this hostile environment.
Lectures were basically theoretical. Practicals were almost forbidden, and when carried out (which were few), were always done with the air of a stubborn ram being drawn by its horn to the abattoir on Salla day…they were always done with such callousness that even the pharisees would have condemned such hypocrisy.
The labs were devoid of equipment and were turned to offices and lecture halls. Students must manage, Lecturers were already managing (and most of them did not have office) and strike was always around the corner.
Again, we were told to manage; “that education is not easy, that there is little money”. I started in my final year to dislike my course, because I could hardly make sense of all the “eye services” taking place. I graduated though, and with a first class in “Executive Management” discipline.

My National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) programme came finally after too much lobbying and sorting (you have to lobby ooo, or you might be posted to Boko Haram states). I was required to provide stuffs for myself that the government had already contracted to someone to provide, because what the contracted person would give me, might surpass my managing skills.
“Charles buy your own white and canvas ooo…wetin these men go give you no go make sense ooo”…and they didn’t disappoint. The kits given to us were almost of similar quality with that of a man recently gone mad. It is now a norm for NYSC to provide sub-standard kits to corpers…“If you no like am find person to exchange with or go buy your own.”
During my three weeks NYSC orientation programme, I was made to endure three weeks of pure torture in the name of training. I was placed in a hostel together with about 100 boys. This hostel was under continuous attack from overgrown weed that besieged it on every side. The bush on the rear side of my hostel was an independent biosphere (that would have interested any serious biologist) with varieties of organisms, vis a vis: snakes, rodents, ants, scorpions, termites, millipedes and centipede, to mention but a few.
Our parade ground which also served as our football pitch was a mixture of clay and weeds, and when it rained (which it did several times), the ground turned swampy like those mangrove swamp we used to read about in our geography textbooks. This made the idea of serving Nigeria under the rain not such a memorable one. I lost three canvas shoes to the swampy soil of our camp. Food were served only because it was essential and was far from being delicious or nutritious. The dinning food reminded me of the food served in those films I saw about war-torn areas. Thinking about it now, it kind of makes me laugh a little when I picture myself all kitted in white, and in my flask was a hardened jollof rice that could be mistaken for yam…I must have looked like a refugee.
Our mami or flexing arena as some corpers called it wore also this touch of swamp and dirt, mixed with a little bit of refuse and weed. You have to walk upon what I like to call rafts or bridges; planks that were left on the ground so that you won’t have to walk on the dirty waterlogged mud.
But majority of the corpers didn’t notice, they seemed to have quickly adjusted to life in the refugee camp. This is what Nigerian Society has done to them. This is what Nigerian Training has turned them into, including yours truly, for we all have been conditioned to manage…to live and act like animals.

After youth service, I went in search of a job (which I am still doing ooo). I started by wandering the indifferent streets of port-harcourt with my many certificates. These certificates could not get me pass the Junior WAEC holding gate men, who appeared more than eager to embarrass unemployed graduates, as if we were the cause of their misfortunes. After more than a month of touring port-harcourt (which is a fine town by the way), I decided to try my luck in Lagos. It was in Lagos that some persons (those hungry GLND guys) told me and some group of unemployed graduates in one of their scam gathering that any company that employs us now will only be managing with us (because our qualifications are scam). That we should better manage any job that we can find. At this stage it began to dawn on me that life for a lower middle class/lower class person in Nigeria is that of continuous “Managing” in the midst of surplus. I can’t help but ask when this “Managing” will end. Maybe when I die, my obituary will start with these words; “To a life well managed”…God Forbid bad thing.

We, -the nigerian masses are a people already conditioned by many years of colonialism and self misrule to accept the river of shit that is being dished out to us by our uncompromising leaders. Uncompromising because they themselves will never manage. No! They will demand not just first class treatment but Heaven-class treatment. That’s why we keep hearing of our senators and representatives getting bogus bonuses. We hear of a minister with armoured tank for convoy. Governors with litany of foreign based houses. Even our pastors have joined the band-wagon, they have entered the “JET age” and you will often hear them say; “It is my portion to prosper”, while their gullible congregation wither from waiting for their daily bread…from waiting for ANY bread.
I remember vividly the case of my former governor, whose son used to go to my alma mater before he became governor. Immediately he became governor, his son was sent abroad to continue his education. Little did we know then that the guy was planning on taking us through a one year strike…”No Money! No Money!!” While his son is abroad paying 1000 times our school fees.

I believe that time has come when Nigerians stopped accepting second class services from their leaders and public servants. It is time we quit this destructive managing. Manage the school, naa certificate matters…na lie. Manage the death hospital, while they are getting treated for cold in the US of A. Manage the security, while they turn our policemen to personal bodyguard.
Our schools are not worth being called schools, we are wasting the precious talents that pass through those “knowledge deprived” schools. The children of our leaders are not there, they are in USA, Britain, Ghana…they are in the Loyola Jesuit, the turkish internationals, the british americans etc. Nigerian based schools that do not teach Nigerian Curriculum. Those schools are not for “Managers”…they offer you everything.
Our hospitals are now death centres, and only admits the poor while our leaders travel to USA, Europe, India, South Africa and co for check ups.
Our Security and Legal institutions have so been fund-starved that they are now so tamed, barking and biting only at the command of the super rich for the super rich.

I also feel that some of the problems lie too with the poor. I have meet poor people who religiously (and faithfully) continue to deny their state. “I no be poor man…it’s not my portion.” They have got their eyes on the upper class and hence continue to treat their poor neighbourhood, their dilapidated school, their death-ravaged health care facilities with such indifference like it is not their’s. This mentality has help to maintain the ghetto-status quo of poor areas for many years. People in those areas believe that their state is transitional, and that they would soon “blow/hammer”. Truly, they have little, but if they would spare just a little from their little they can really improve their neighbourhood and facilities…but No, they all want away things, abroad things, banana island things, and hence they live all their lives in those ghettos without lifting a finger to improve them. Ajegunle will continue to be a ghetto because its inhabitants are working hard to move to Lekki…who decievest who?

I believe that the time has come for us to have a reset in our approach to life. Time has come for a 180 degrees turn around. We ought to start speaking up and demanding wherever we are for improved services and goods for ourselves and for our neighbours. We need to look for sustainable and affordable ways of improving our environment, our schools and our medical facilities…we need to start seeing our ghettos, our low income jobs, our “ignorant” schools, our health centres as our own and that we should improve it ourselves or viciously demand it be improved…or we the masses will continue to manage until we manage to Die.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

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Comments
  1. chima says:

    It so sad that the every day nigerian hs found ‘managing’ to be a norm. The sooner we burn of that disease from our mental psyche the better.

  2. Its all PLACEBO EFFECT,
    The mind is held captive,
    Constantly tutored to take tangent views
    So Bob Marley says;
    “Emancipated yourself from mental slavery!”
    But the ‘selves’ are too weak,
    Even the dumb statue for itself
    Can better speak .

    Naija which way???

  3. Sheyzznote says:

    Hmmmmm…. Am short of words! Now I understand what Mr. Chinua Achebe meant by “there was a country”, no hope for ever having a country again if things should continue like this. Awolowo said it sll, “A time come when the masses will rise and fight for their right from the so called their government”. My good man, I feel your pain, we also lived in it and saw it all, still seeing and pray we won’t see anymore before we become blind (God forbid we die now).

    “MANAGE”, how can we manage what we have in abundant with this mentality we have of the definition of managing.
    Ridiculous!

    Am tired of talking about this, WHAT SHALL WE DO BRETHREN!

  4. Anene Francis says:

    Now you make me laugh over a matter I should normally be sad about lol. Some exaggerations permited… Message passed beautifully.

  5. Management not just a course of study for Nigerians, but a way of life. the day we stop managing, and start leading, the very day we begin to live again

  6. Kosi Anyanwu says:

    Well…this brings tears to my eyes instead. And maybe I’m the only one who believes that “There will be a country”

  7. Ziggy says:

    We are in a generation dainted and brutalised by corrupt, abysmal leadership

  8. Anyanya says:

    Well…. True! Sadly, I managed to read through this….. Bad network o!

  9. Olisa says:

    Nigeria still have a long way to go.

  10. LegendaryCJN says:

    This is like a stone thrown at the right direction.
    I’m impressed bro. Keep writing.

  11. bright nwaubani says:

    Sure wat eva we tolerate (manage), we can’t change….mr charley!

  12. Adaka Timothy says:

    This TRUTH is nut Bitter rather SWEET. Was laughing @ some point cos I experienced same. But finally, we have 2 MANAGE to become MANAGER(s) some day MANAGING Nija.

  13. Bubu Bricks says:

    Hmm, i wonder why our leaders never manage their pot bellies or is management the cross for only the poor and middle class to bear. Our leaders are so corrupt that they take from the people far more than they give. Imagine the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly passing a bill to pay 100m yearly for medicals alone, among other demands to all past governors and deputies of the state as pension package (smh)…these people seem to forget that 1 rich person in the multitude of several poor persons is very poor. However, we need to stand up for our rights as it is only the truth you know that will set you free. We should stop treating ourselves as mediocres so that others will treat us better, we should strive for the best instead of settling for less and we should start to do the little we can to change status quo rather than just accepting them.

  14. onyeka says:

    Great write up bro. Keep the flag flying

  15. Adaka Timothy says:

    @ Charles, a nice one. Such is life but I tell u, even d “Rich” also manage. Even the government ‘Manage’ their resources. I don’t know 4 u but am a ‘MANAGER’. 🙂

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