11/26/2007

My weekend was better than yours

I hadn’t left finally and got all this wailing. Yeah? Like Fantasy Queen guessed, I was kinda enjoying it. Yes, I know I didn’t reply any comments to indicate that I was still around but that was because I was swamped with work. Here, they want to squeeze out all the juice from me, eat the insides before feeding the back to goats so I can come out as shit. And, handing over isn’t fun especially when I have to explain 4 months of arduous mental work to someone else. Phew!!! Perhaps I should hand over my blog as well cos it constituted a major part of my job profile ;). On the other hand the whole observation of the wailing from a vantage viewpoint makes me to wonder if God will let me observe my funeral from heaven. Enough now with the wailing…

…Enough???

My exit from the company has generated quite some activity. We spent last weekend at Hermitage Ranch Resort, Akodo (OK, its not “ranch” but it’s the closest thing to Obudu I have ever stayed at). A whole weekend of fun, sand, good food and more sand imagine…and all because of me? Well, not quite…but it coincided with my exit so I like to see it as a send-forth of sorts. This post is about the weekend.

We arrived at the resort on Friday after “travelling” for over an hour. I didn’t really notice the distance tho’ cos I was busy getting the office version of a school mum and trying to chat up the COO’s PA.

Shortly after we arrived, we had one long session like this where the company vision, structure etc was explained to us. Everybody got to see where they stood in the company. My name was there too…at the bottom of technology hierarchy where it belonged; but I wasn’t expecting anything else. The folks I pity are the ones who got some unpleasant surprises. We also had some indoor games and a couple of outdoor games.

Outdoor games didn’t favour some people especially when the first game was a sack race. Oh my!!! All the olemputus had to fit into the sack and run on the tiring beach sand. Even me and my bighead was panting so hard afterwards that I must’ve used up half the oxygen on the beach.

The next day we did some early morning exercises…and yet again that didn’t favour many people too. But we survived.

Then we had looooong sessions for most of the day before we were let go to chill out and have a breather before the night’s BBQ party. That’s the one that seemed to favour quite a number of people.

On Sunday we packed our stuff and left and Monday, its back to work.

At the retreat, we were promised 80% fun and 20% work. We got that and 100% slide presentations. No offense intended but all these people talking stuff that cannot be easily classified into correct or incorrect weary me.

Highlights of the retreat…I splashed around in the pool, drank 20 litres of chlorinated water (at least), and learnt to swim…Yes I did!!! I can swim. So I can now go for that Total Oil interview or Olympics 2008… Who knows?

I got to meet a lot of people too; company staff who barely knew my name, a couple of MTN staff who were on a retreat as well and a certain TV producer of one show I am positive yu have heard of (for reasons best unknown to me, I don’t want to be specific about the name of the show).

Now the food…

Yes THE FOOD

I pity the folks who got used to it; their wives and/or pockets go hear am this week. We ate like mad. The meals were buffets and better than anything Mama Ekene ever sold. I learnt valuable lessons like

S*** due to good food smells worst.

Don’t select everything in a buffet.

Don’t judge the capacity of a man’s stomach by its size; the pot-bellied ones eat less.

In addition to all that, I played volleyball, attempted football, fantasized about surfing, listened to a moving speech by our MD; I could have sold my father’s house and given it to the company during the speech. Luckily, I wasn’t with the necessary documents and I’m back to my senses now.

Have I talked about the food??? It almost deserves a second mention.

The weekend was fun for me, Hope urs was too. Gat to get back to work now.

11/19/2007

Sobs...

As month-end draws close, I become sadder and pre-nostalgic; I’m ending my IT this month. (sobs here). Hold on a minute let me get my hankie. (sniffs).

You won’t understand but these past months have been some of the most eventful for me. I made friends, took risks, engaged in stuff I had never done before, went for months without looking at my school books and its all coming to an end cos my school has resumed.

The first months I spent in Lagos, I spent scouring the streets of VI looking for a place to do my IT. While I wasn’t finding it funny then, I look back on those days and laugh. When I wasn’t getting told off by gatemen at SAPETRO towers or a receptionist at Interswitch, I was working with a cousin on a course for her master’s degree; I had to learn new stuff quickly, it also offered me an opportunity to get to know those my cousins better, offered me relief from the younger nitwits I stay with normally and I got plenty of big crush advice there too. It was then I entered the big crush project which is still ongoing. When an employer finally got to his senses and hired the best thing since guguru & ekpa (me), I joined the flow of things, worked and had fun with the guys there. In between, I visited computer village more times than I can count, got a new computer and phone, visited friends from Ikeja to Ajah and Okokomaiko (that particular trip wasn’t funny o). Saw a movie at a cinema for the first time, got a personal tour of Lagos Business School (Chuks thanks), climbed an escalator for the first time, practised pro-flirting, joined the ushering team at my youth church and helped out at my secondary school fellowship from time to time.

There are definitely a lot of things I’m going to miss:

First and foremost, I’m going to miss blogsville. Don’t start weeping yet; I’m not going away permanently but frequency of reading around and updates will definitely drop cos I’ll have a lot less time and money for internet (free internet go end naa). Moreover, on my browser here, I had a blogroll in my bookmarks so long, it used to take me hours to go through them all; now I’ll be constrained to URLs I can remember and those who have ever dropped comments. You can start weeping now; I already am.

Then I’ll miss my free internet and the privilege of “googling” or “wikipediaring” anything I don’t understand.

I’ll miss all the mama-puts I’ve visited in Lagos island: Madam Benue and her pepper soup that for financial reasons I only got as far as looking at, Mama Bose that I promised myself never to eat at for hygiene reasons and found myself returning to for convenience reasons (abi did she use jazz?) and her husband that looked ready to beat anyone that as much as greeted their not-bad-to-look-at daughter; Mama Ekene and her not-affordable food with great-tasting egusi soup; Iya Koyo which really should be called “iyas” koyo and is a model for the future of inter-company cooperation, it is a dirty, crowded, jointly-owned/managed joint where the heat alone could get yu high, Paul & Paul (Fried Rice & Turkey. Oooh).

I’ll miss the early morning fried yam and evening boli where I was unscrupulously cheated more than a few times.

I’ll miss the odour of Lagos island that manages to stick to the inner walls of your nostrils so you could keep smelling it even in Yaba.

I’ll miss the buses which took the expression “…packed like sardines…” to a whole new level.

I’ll miss the people at my workplace; the dry ones, the ones with attitude problems, the ones who were the cause of attitude problems themselves, the quiet ones, the fine ones (that are too old for me), the ones wey dey form(dem plenty ehnn), the ones wey no send, the rich ones and the not-so-rich ones. I’ll miss them all.

I’ll miss the girl who thought I looked like a teddy bear-she explained that it was a compliment; I don’t believe.

I’ll miss the guy who seemed hostile at first but of recent has been singing a certain Freshly Ground sound that rhymes with my name every time he sees me.

I’ll miss our COO who “takes no prisoners”; he “kills em all”.

I’ll miss the fear of our chairman which seemed to be the beginning of knowledge around here.

I’ll miss sleeping over at the office; the accompanied hustling for the most comfortable chair, the continuous adjustment to the better sleeping position, the technicalities involved with taking a bath, the chatting with my Romanian friend online about boyfriends, family, lingerie and all what not.

I’ll miss my boss’s asking me every other morning how my wife and kids were.

I’ll miss the folks in my office who are always too eager to jump to the conclusion that I now had a girlfriend. I can’t talk with my sister in peace on the phone there.

I’ll miss having to wake up, take a bath and get dressed in 15 mins; I believe I broke some world records here. Where the heck is Guinness book of records?


I’ll miss my barber who was always determined to give me a skin cut even after I must have specified that I didn’t want that. And who would, after barbing, rub the clipper on my chin like there was something (beards) there.

I’ll miss my little cousins who make you dread the time when your own kids would be their age.

I’ll miss NEPA; I’m already missing them, there hasn’t been light for close to 3 weeks now.

I’ll miss Tejuosho market whose traders ensure yu take a bath afterwards, what with all the dragging, pulling, tugging so you can buy stock jeans and bootu cut. One day someone will get slapped in that market.

I’ll miss looking around in public places in the hope that I would bump into big crush by chance. Or, better still, fantasy queen hustling for bread at the palms

I’ll miss hearing all this Yoruba around me that I have been unable to understand despite all my years in lag.

I’ll miss a whole lot of stuff and people… but what must happen must. I look forward to the session being as short as possible. I can only hope that I’ll be missed too.

11/14/2007

Me, the next shakepeare?

This was a drama series I was working on in the past but never got around to going further than this. Then, I was trying to imagine what it was like in Aro Sock in the OJB days, here’s what I came up with:

Akitu: (strolls into osabanjo’s office, dragging his feet) Gunners for life!

Osabanjo: I don tell you, one day me and you go get wahala onto this arsenal matter. (whistles) glory, glory man united…

Akitu: anyway leave that matter for now. Did you watch the last episode of Gardener’s daughter?

Osabanjo: Nope, no light.

Akitu: Gen nko?

Osabanjo: No fuel.

Akitu: You for just travel go UK that evening talk say you wan go see Blair afterall the country is already used to that. They’ll believe anything you say.

Osabanjo: E be like say your head no correct. Who you dey try insult? Anyway, to be honest, I actually considered that one but they don’t show Gardener’s daughter in UK.

Akitu: See ehnn make I tell you, its not beans working this number of years with you. I can predict all your next moves including this third term nonsense you are thinking of.

Osabanjo: I swear to you before God and man that I have no such plans.

Akitu: (takes notes that in his diary, secretly wishing his voice recorder had been switched on). I hear we are supposed to have a meeting with that smart new guy you hired in the CBN.

Osabanjo: (sighs) He was the one that requested it. You know say me I no send all these school boys. He should be here any minute.

Akitu: If you no send am why you hire am?

Osabanjo: Can’t you see that people are seeing through this farce we call government. We should give them faces that’ll make them think we are serious.

Akitu: How many do these stupid Nigerians want sef? We’ve given them Ojonko and that NADFAC woman; it seems they want the whole cabinet to be full of smart people. How can we maintain our status as a PDP government in the face of all this.

Osabanjo: (laughing) Forget say I dey laugh O! This is really not funny but I’ve always been smarter than all of southern Nigeria put together. I fooled them in the 70’s and I can and will do it again.

Akitu: By the way, it seems I’m getting more newspaper coverage than you. I beat you in THISday, Guardian and Punch. You won in Sun. Anyway, considering that I’ll be the next president of the country, that is to be expected.

Osabanjo: (Rolls on the floor laughing) What did you say last? (more laughter) did you say “next president” please crack another joke.

(knocks on the door)

Akitu: My friend, get up. You’re making a fool of yourself. I think Sodulo is at the door. He already sees you as a joke but me as the next president. I don’t want to be seen as participating in your foolery.

Osabanjo: (gets up and continues laughing). Did someone just say “foolery”? (claps enthusiastically) My guy, that’s the biggest word you have used since you entered office. Where did you learn it?

Akitu: Unlike you, I have fuel in my Tiger gen and I just got DSTV. I saw that one on E! channel.

Osabanjo: You watch E!? Wonders will never…

(more knocks and Amhadu Alki strolls in)

Alki: Gunners for life!

Osabanjo: This is definitely a coup. Where are the guns and where is the general? Which reminds me, those generals don overstay for office. They should be removed. Alki abeg, handle that matter.

Alki: Me? Since when did I get that kind of promotion? To be hiring and sacking generals? When you would not allow me put just my Wife, Son, Mother and Sister as board chairmans. I no do!

Osabanjo: You think I don’t know that a good number of your “men” are running things. Until I cut their wings na when your eye go shine. Do what I’ve told you before I get annoyed.

Akitu: If…

…to be continued (don’t wait for it)

11/07/2007

21

At 21,

Lindsay Lohan was arrested for possession, transportation and usage of narcotics.

Albert Einstein graduated. I’m graduating at 21…do you guys sense a correlation here?

Michael Jackson was not looking like a cast from planet of the apes (the non-human cast)

Obasanjo joined the army. (and Nigeria’s fortunes dropped)

Ernesto Che Guevara had spent a year in medical school. I almost bought a shirt with his picture on Saturday.

Bill Gates officially registered the Microsoft name.

Paul McCartney got a new violin…

Tiger Woods turned pro…

Julius Aghahowa (the 21-yr old version of him) had played at world cup, Africa cup of nations and Olympics…

Mary Onyali had already won a bronze medal… do they do “football age” in athletics?

William Shakespeare began his successful career in London as actor, playwright and part-owner of playing company

Elvis Presley got his breakthrough.

Adolf Hitler settled into a house for poor working men. Yes, that’s right; the same Hitler that killed millions and whom many dogs are named after.

Nigeria was… pretty much where we are today. The terms have changed but Ettehnomics and Ettehnocracy were very much in play then

Chris Brown…isn’t even 21 yet. All these small children sef.

Walt Disney had started an art company that was unprofitable cos he and and his partner were inexperienced. The company was taken over by his financiers.

Rihanna is not 21 yet. Another nwata kiri.

50 cent entered a studio for the first time. I better pass am; I entered a studio at 20. Wait for my album; Get saved or die trying.

Britney Spears was ranked the world’s most powerful celebrity by Forbes magazine, she opened a restaurant, dumped Justin Timberlake, picked up some dude from Limp Bizkit. And I must have been the world’s most powerful non-celebrity.

On the 9th of November 2007, zeezueo hubicde naddlo aka BigHead will be 21.

(BTW those 3 unreadable words are 3 of my 4 names with the letters jumbled up. Go figure.)

Before I became 21, I had

3 blogs

A whole lot of friends

Tripped for exactly 11 girls (2 from primary school, none from secondary, 2 from SAT lessons and 7 from University).

Run 5 businesses (1 from secondary school, 4 from university) which all eventually packed up cos I spent my capital.

Chewed close to 1000 naira worth of chewing gum.

Played in less than 10 soccer matches, 1 basketball match and a quarter of a game of tennis.

Used 2 computers.

Never smoked.

Learnt how to drive and bought my first license.

3 bank accounts and 1 ATM card.


Drank a little beer and decided to stay away from alcohol in general

At 21, I hope to:

Graduate in peace

Make my first million

Get my first proper job

Get my first girlfriend

Learn a new language

At 21, I wish I could:

Get married

Get a car

Get a house

Start off my company

Make a lot more than one million naira

Get a dog

At 21, I definitely don’t want to:

Look like a cast from planet of apes

Join the army, a political party or a fraternity.

Settle into a house for poor working men

Do drugs, smoke, or drink.

21, here I come.

11/01/2007

Help I've been…No! I'm being Robbed

A cousin/fellow blogger put this up and encouraged me to put it on my blog too. I'm obliged to do so considering that most of what he says here affects me too. Read on:

I am very proud of the progress that Nigerian banks appear to be making. In less than two years, many of them have at least doubled in size and value (according to what some people consider to be the questionable financial results they publish). Besides growing in size some of them have improved the quality of their service delivery by training their staff more, and introducing some new services.

Even though Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) have been available around the world for quite a long time, they are only just catching on in Nigeria. The ability to carry a small plastic card around instead of cash is long overdue; especially since previous attempts were not this popular or widely accepted in Nigeria (the valucard was like a status symbol).

I, like many people have an ATM card and I also love the convenience it provides, but more and more I am getting increasingly pissed by the whole thing. It's a good service and it should be encouraged, in fact let me just start from the beginning…

Last year while I was at school (University of Nigeria), a rumour started that a thousand naira had vanished from people's accounts, and that when they asked for an explanation, it turned out that the culprit was the bank (and since I welcome any accusations of libel if they have the guts I will mention a name), Intercontinental Bank. Account holders (mostly students in the case of their Nsukka branch) were told that it was to pay for an ATM card. Before long it was confirmed to be a fact and I was miffed, because I could not and still cannot understand why they did not attempt to sell this new service to us, but instead chose to impose it. I cannot imagine it ever happening that management at Globacom will one day wake up, decide I need some service they come up with, and because they have access to my account simply reach in and pay themselves for it, and after doing so not have the courtesy to inform me of what they have done…since I will eventually find out. Let me mention for accuracy's sake that they eventually started issuing ATM cards at no cost to customers, but as far as I know did not bother to refund the ones they stole from. In my annoyance, I wrote a letter (not politely) demanding an explanation from the branch manager but never delivered it, perhaps because I saw that I was going to be a lone soldier in my cause.

Now some months ago, I heard that customers (at least at Intercontinental Bank), were charged a hundred naira any month they used the bank's ATM machines irrespective of the number of times. This was another detail I was not aware of, because the geniuses at Intercontinental Bank seem to presume that I am too stupid to understand things if they are explained to me. You know, people are always complaining that we duel too much on theoretical things in Nigerian universities, so they just went ahead out of the goodness of their hearts and arranged a practical experience for their customers. Please, this hundred naira should not be mistaken for the one collected when another bank's machine is used, because it is clearly stated that that is in addition to any fees your bank may charge.

Finally, this week the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back was dropped, and I decided to start typing again. I had already seen a notice at Intercontinental Bank announcing that by a certain date withdrawals below a certain amount (I think fifty thousand) will no longer be ACCEPTED or carried out over the counter, but only by the ATM machine. Then this week, I heard that they are planning to charge a fee per withdrawal at their machines. This has not yet taken effect, but what's to stop them.

I may not on my own, be able to do anything about this, but at least I will not take it lying down and I will (if nothing else) fail trying. This is simply NOT [not even in a twisted society like ours] the proper way to do business. There is simply no excuse for reaching into people's personal accounts simply because you have access to them, which is a fact only because you are supposedly trustworthy. If a service is good, you do not have to steal from people's accounts, trick or force them into accepting your service. A sad percentage of us may be illiterate, but with a service as good as ATMs can be, posters, handbills and word of mouth (especially from satisfied customers) will do the trick.

Now the service is popular, and people like me who were robbed have put the robbery behind them and use the service even after hearing (not being notified) about the associated charges. So why come up with a ridiculously high limit for withdrawals over the counter. I am a student and even if they (as I hear they will) have a lower limit at Nsukka, it is unfair for a bank that pays some kobos into accounts as interest, to charge us (many of whom barely manage scrape by) for withdrawing our own money, because we are using a service imposed on us. Also, even if the limit in Nsukka is five thousand it will mean that thousands who can only withdraw less than that at a time will be compelled to use the five machines they have in the town (three on campus, 2 in town as at the last time I was there) which almost never all work at the same time. Thanks to Soludo, I can walk into the banking hall and demand the right to withdraw five thousand and one naira. The one naira will certainly be less than what they plan to charge for using the machine and I will happily sacrifice one naira to avoid the fee if they insist that they do not have change.

Interswitch (which I understand is owned mostly by banks) has to get paid, but it does not have to be like this. Nigerian businesses do not seem to understand what it means to be ethical. Ethics do not have to be alien to us, they may be an extra inconvenience, but they are worth it in the long run especially for companies that seriously mean to outgrow the Nigerian market.

If this was America where people can be sued for sneezing without covering their mouths, goodness knows the story would be different, I may have sued for the "great emotional and psychological distress I suffered as a result of the one thousand naira I lost and the resultant effect on my academics". Seriously though, I wish I knew some young lawyer, fresh out of school who was interested in taking on a giant and becoming a famous or notorious "Lagos lawyer" like the ones referred to on news.

In the future, efforts should be made to educate customers on the advantages of services, Nigerians are NOT stupid and we are more than capable of appreciating a good thing. I think banks will make a decent sum without forcing customers to use ATMs. If they must charge then let them - JUST TELL US FIRST, the different banks can then compete for who will charge the least.

As part of my not lying down, I will post my thoughts online, write newspapers, Intercontinental Bank and possibly speak to customer care at the bank so that I make my displeasure known to them officially (hopefully they will not be as rude as the girl I spoke to this week at Glo's customer care). I hope other people who are displeased will do something. I feel we are often too willing to accept things, even unfair things once we have an excuse to call it "normal" or simply because many people accept it also, so please let me just say that there is nothing, absolutely nothing normal about being forced to accept and pay for a service you have not even requested for even if you would eventually have done so.

It will give me great joy to hear that the bank has received several letters or complaints from dissatisfied customers who are not satisfied with the poor flow of information. UNhappy customer, UNhappy bank.


This was written by CovertNigerian