Chai, Chai! There is God o!

Lilian Elohor Emukowhate Written by Lilian Elohor Emukowhate · 2 min read >

Corruption appears to be widespread in Nigeria, taking various forms, ranging from large contract fraud to minor bribes; from outright theft to complex money-laundering schemes; and from pocketing the wages of nonexistent workers to directing plum positions to family and friends. Some officials enjoy perquisites that are so excessive that they are commonly seen as a form of legalised corruption.  Corruption is Nigeria’s most critical concern.  As someone who has worked in the civil service, which is the hotbed of corruption, I can’t help but be surprised at how prevalent these agreements are. Corruption has penetrated to the very core of society. 

Consider the scenario in which I must bribe my way into obtaining a contract; in most cases, these contracts are not granted on the basis of merit, but rather on the basis of who has the fattest envelop; also, in order to receive my payment after the execution, I will need to bribe once again. 

At my previous workplace, middle management would offer to accept money in exchange for reducing the amount of money that firms had to pay to the organization, therefore depriving the organization of its income in order to further their own selfish goals. Another example of this unethical action happens when the organization receives payment for services, but managers raise the cost of delivering these services and give substandard delivery on implementation just to save cost and “see something” for themselves. 

After all, na where man dey work man dey chop. 

This is a popular pidgin quote in Nigeria which means “where you work that’s where you eat from”, nowadays eat has been used to refer to legally or illegally. To the outside world it could mean the salary, wages, pension and any other benefits attached to a job. It could also mean that you should do your job well enough so you can advance in your career and earn more.

To Nigerians, it is the extra things in between — the salary and some more. Whoever or wherever the saying originated, they probably thought it was something to play around with. They never knew it would morph to be a fanatically practiced system in the country believed to be the saviour.

Man must “wak

The sales girl/boy believes it, that’s why he would run down his Oga’s shop in his bid to chop.

The corrupt politician believes it, that’s why he feels entitled to public funds.

The civil servant believes it that’s why you walk into a government establishment and pay for stamp, paper, pen, signing and also pay the damn worker to actually do his job.

They call it Work-chop

The work-chop syndrome has been systematically embedded into the average Nigerian. Tips, bribes, gifts are not expected. They are demanded.

The police for example expect every commercial driver to drop 50 naira at every check point and when you have a need for the police service you buy fuel for their vehicle and pen for their desk. That is just the police.

This perversity has infiltrated even the highest offices of government. It’s not just a poor people ‘thing’. It is puzzling that someone earning thousands and millions of Naira will be interested in little amounts and bribes. You hear top officials ask: 

“Have you seen my boy?”

Anyone not actively participating in this work-chop practice is seen as the enemy or a learner.

The worst part is, this questionable payment is never enough. 

Let’s all remember that 

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