Categories: Columns

Time for a decency act

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives must push for the enactment of the Decency Act in Nigeria.

Ada Obaje

On August 28, 2018, Mr. Ayodeji David Abejide, the Managing Director of GTBank Liberia, apparently in a fit of temper flung his calculator right in the face of an employee, leading to a gash on the lip. As the blood spilled from his gaping lip, the victim found his voice while somebody present at the meeting filmed the ugly episode that should make the cut for a Nollywood blockbuster.

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Before the Nigerian banker who heads the Liberian arm of one of Nigeria’s supposedly most professional institutions, GTBank, could come to terms with the consequence of his irrationality, all hell was let loose. He was promptly arrested and thrown into detention. In no time, the office of the Minister for Labour issued a strongly worded statement condemning the assault on their citizen with a resolve to prosecute the bank boss and ensure he enjoys a taste of prison beans if found guilty by the court.

With impish glee, the video was circulated among the rank of cowardly past and present bankers who celebrated what was regarded as the day of reckoning for high-handed bosses. On different social media platforms, it was a free exchange of experiences as people recounted different cases of indignity they were subjected to while prancing around in high street fashion suits chasing business in Nigeria’s wonder banks. Some jokingly argued that a cut lip from a calculator fling was ‘akamu case’ (minor) compared to several other horrendous experiences. With the excitement, you would think the Minister for Finance had declared another round of ‘Udoji Awards’.

A former colleague fired the first salvo upon seeing the video on the alumni platform. Saying, “our crazy bank bosses have carried their stupidity and wickedness to other climes. I worked in five banks over a 16-year period and suffered some of the most horrendous emotional and psychological abuse from bosses over my so-called inability to meet spurious targets. Thousands of long suffering bank employees have been pushed into prostitution, suffered sexual and other kinds of abuses all because they want to keep hellish jobs for the sake of their families. This serves as a deterrent to all these bosses who litter all our banks. Shame.”

The foregoing is relatable to any one who has ever worked in any bank, especially the new generation banks. Whether it was the Weekly Activity Report meetings, rightly called WAR or the dreaded Monthly Performance Review (MPR), all such sessions were characterized by intimidation and humiliation, where hapless staffers were subjected to indescribable emotional pain and indignity. It was not uncommon to see some top management staff sobbing like babies in a toilet. The fear of job loss and the relentless threats, drive staff to pursue the atrocious targets. To survive bank staff resort to unethical practices. Suffering and smiling, they trudge on, nursing the frequent spike in blood pressure, which sometimes spirals into more serious health challenges.

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It is most probable that Abejide needed to ‘pass on the pressure’ which he may have also received from the ‘Oga at the Top.’

The sad reality is that assaulting and humiliating employees is in keeping with the prevalent culture of disrespect is the major characteristic of employments where disrespect and other ‘put down tendencies’ are common place.

Several years ago, an aide to the wife of the governor of a state narrated how Her Excellency slapped a commissioner.

Earlier in the year, the Secretary to the State Government in the South West, in full glare during a public function, slapped a police officer attached to his office as a security aide. It was widely reported that the high-ranking public official is a serial offender in assault.

Employees groan in silence due to the failure of the Federal Ministry of Labour to protect workers whether in white or blue collar.

The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, needs to be confronted with the hard questions. In Liberia, the Ministry of Labour swiftly stepped in to enforce the Decent Work Act of the country which led to the sack of the former chief executive by his employers.

As many observed, if this incident had occurred in Nigeria, Abejide would not be challenged much less being arrested.

And so it was that a legal alien, Abejide, a Nigerian plying his trade in Monrovia, truncated what should have been a colourful career through violation of the tenets of etiquette.

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives must push for the enactment of the Decency Act in Nigeria.

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Tokunbo David :Sun News Online team writer and news editor

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