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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: Slap Your Employees… Why Not?




Last week someone told me the story of a Nigerian journalist who received a hot slap because she dared to ask why a pay cheque of 10,000 Naira bounced. Whilst I was trying to understand the reason for the slap, and what precipitated the need for the slapping, my friend kept saying, “But why 10k cheque go bounce?

Here’s why I was more interested in the slap: I believe it takes having a very high level of disregard or disrespect for someone, for you to raise your hand to strike them. Think about it; a slap is something you issue someone you consider really down there on the scale of relevance.

However, before we go into the story of the slapping – which we really need to address… seriously – let us talk about the bounced 10k cheque.
Look, working in Nigeria is tough. Working with a one-man business is usually tougher. Then somewhere really high up there on the scale of hard knock life, is working in Nigerian media. As if the pay grade is not embarrassing enough, maybe this is why a lot of Nigerian journalists look so scruffy, you have to deal with the problem of unpaid wages.

So you get the picture of what that chic was dealing with. Anyway, according to the gist, on the day of the Slapsgiving, she had gone to complain that the cheque didn’t go through. That cheque business should have been her cue that something shady was about to go down.

Cheques and I do not get along at all! My parents used to give me pocket money in form of cheques in year 1 at UniLag and the process was very excruciatingly tedious. They’ll give you a cheque on Monday morning, you will now enter bus to Apapa Wharf (their bank branch) back then, you could only withdraw from the originating branch of the cheque. So, after sitting in the rickety bus for more than one hour, in that heat, you will then get to the bank and join the queue of everybody who was waiting for Monday just to get there. Then, after collecting the meagre 3,200 Naira, you will go and look for Ojuelegba bus and pray that somehow you will find a ‘Campus bus’ loading in time to get you to school. See, even memory of my days of receiving cheques make me tremble. So picture our journalist girl having gone through that stress only to be told, sorry no money.

To add insult upon injury, she now got slapped – for daring to complain about a bounced cheque. Okay, Nigerian employers, can we talk about this for a minute? No seriously… why are you beating your employees? This thing of slapping and knocking your staff around is an indication that you have no capacity for leadership. In fact, my friend aptly put it ‘those employers belong in the zoo – well caged.’

The more stories I hear of people joining the entrepreneurial train, the more I worry about employment issues and how their staff are treated. Is it just really about the tag ‘Founder CEO’ or is there a place where these entrepreneurs can learn to be leaders of people, in a sane and humane way?
Sadly, a lot of employers act like they are in boarding school – my seniors bullied me so I must bully my juniors too. This is all part of paying your dues? How? By being slapped and knocked in the face?

For some it is more a case of “I pay your salary and so I own you – lock stock and barrel.” This salary is often delayed, shaved or denied! Yet, people stay – because strike actions mean nothing in our society and we embrace the mantra “At all at all, na hin bad pass. Any job is better than no job

Atoke CheeriosSo, let us try to understand why an employer would slap or knock an employee around. Perhaps the employee is slow and not quick on the uptake…not the sharpest tool in the shed? Maybe you have been showing this employee how to arrange Power Point slides for the past 8 months and he is still not getting it right. Could it be that you had a really bad night at home (You found out your wife has overshot the credit limit on your card) & you got to work and your staff left the generator on not knowing NEPA had ‘brought light’ for the past 3 hours. (Yes, that thing can pain. Do you know how much diesel costs?)
How bad can it really get that you would slap your staff? Because none of these things warrant getting beat up by my boss – unless the boss has anger management issues; in which case there needs to be a psych evaluation carried out. That boss has no business employing people.

Then there are those who beat their domestic staff. Yup, this beating business is not just restricted to the office. Employers abound, and so do the slappers, knockers and kickers. Beating your nannies, biting your houseboys, slapping your drivers, pouring hot soup on your cooks… guys, simply unacceptable.

So what’s the recourse we have against violence in the work place? Is there a body available to report a violent employer to? What is the role of the Nigerian Labour Congress and what is their position on workplace aggression and violence? Because whilst we’re struggling to fight for fuel, fight against corruption, fight to have a strong Naira, fighting child abuse, we really have no business  dealing with unpaid wages and violence against staff. That is just low.

Really low.

And if you moved back to Nigeria from a country where there is recourse against such behaviour, and you joined this Slapping Gang, just go and stand and face the wall.

Ponder upon these things as I bid you Adieu and Odigba (Because ELKAFT, guys) Don’t forget to hook up with me on Google+ if you want to be a part of the Google Hangout we’re planning for writers, lovers of writing and READERS! I’ll let you know the date as soon as Moremi obliges us and helps us with the set up (Yes, honey, I’m putting you on blast! )

Have a beautiful week ahead guys! Let’s go forth and kick ass in all we do!
Peace, love & carrot batons!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Scott Griessel

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. le coco

    August 24, 2015 at 9:50 am

    Haa atoke.. this abuse thing really irks me.. especially wen I knw so many ppl in naija slapping. . Kicking their nannies and drivers… why on earth do we think this is acceptable. …. nd you will c nigerians going overseas thinking they cn pull the same stunt… an aunt of mine busy slapping her domestic helper… the girl is from Zimbabwe. .. nd she confided in me.. asking the meaning of Anuofia.. nd why is it tht madam is always calling her that… honestly.. things need to change

  2. Ayomide

    August 24, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Slapping your employee is degrading,its a sign of disrespect and robbing the employee of his/her self dignity.In nigeria there is no law protecting the right of the commoner. Pastors slapping members, Boss slapping employee, Lecturer slapping student, Landlady slapping tenant.Infact, Last month, my brother got slapped by his landlady…i was like what the Hell!, I ensure that landlady was arrested and dealt with.

    • Ross

      August 24, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      Thing is, this is not an isolated topic. Nigerians are violent GENERALLY. Child abuse, wife battery etc. People just transfer this behaviour to other social relationships (with their housegirl, driver, staff etc.).
      Until we agree that beating a child is a problem, all this is big English. People beat children like animals and it can’t be right.
      It starts from what children have to endure from adults. That frustration is carried into adulthood and the trauma manifests in such violent behaviour.

    • Alice

      August 25, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      Beating a child isn’t wrong (biblical) is child abuse that is wrong.

    • me me me

      April 13, 2017 at 8:50 pm

      Wait oooo…. where Are you worshipping? Legit question

  3. MoiMoi

    August 24, 2015 at 10:06 am

    “after collecting the meagre 3,200 Naira”
    I would never call money given to my parents meagre, it’s what they can afford and no matter how little it is, should be appreciated.

    Back to the topic, it boils down to the culture / attitudes in the Nigerian workplace – too many big egos and no respect for the other person, but more importantly there are no systems in place to address such situations. For e.g. in the West, assault (such as slapping another person) is a a summary offence, which carries a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment and/or a fine.

    • Atoke


      August 24, 2015 at 10:17 am


      The word ‘meagre’ was used to show the value on the cheque and not an indication of ingratitude.

      Thank you for reading.

  4. tinu bello

    August 24, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Seems Atoke knows what am passing through…I’m presently on I.T and I only go to work three times in a week I have four free days to while away time because I don’t want to stay at home I registered for fashion training. I told the person I will undergoing the training under and she said she is okay with it. There was a day she said she is going to slap me if I didn’t sew cloth properly. Many a times she will ask me to wash gutter because I came(I leave far away from the shop) I told my friend am going to stop going but I already paid half of the money. So annoying

    • whocares

      August 24, 2015 at 10:38 am

      You actually paid for the insult this woman is meting on you? Toh. Does she not understand that yours and hers is a symbiotic relationship. She needs your money, you need her expertise. Better call her calmly and sit down, heck try to draw up a contract between both of you. I know this is Naija etc, but the mere mention of the C word should scare her. Sebi you are an IT graduate. No be so?
      Now to the topic. I have never understood why people hit their employees. When I was younger I went to my aunt’s house and she slapped her house help. I felt terrible . Slapping the house help is bad enough, but your 9-5 worker who does not live with you? or someone demanding their money for services rendenred? I would suggest every self employed person has a contract before you embark on work for someone, include it in the contract that assault and battery to your person will be prosecuted or stipulate a fine. But that is all well and good if there is no central body policing this action. Is there not a worker’s union? Do journalists for example not have a workers union? If individual professions have a union (wich I know they do) then the unions need to revamp themselves. Charge higher membership fees if you must but collectively, the union should be able to act for its members against these terrible employers. An individual will not have as much power as these unions will. The union can demand compensation for its members, etc ? Ahh that is brilliant isnt it? (yes, I have my moments 😀 You might have to pay higher membership fee, but so long as the union delivers on its promise to get compensation.. e..g sue, black list clients then that should be ok.

    • Hafi's Blacksoap, Oils and Butter

      August 24, 2015 at 10:47 am

      When you learn seeing from illiterates , that what usually happens . They will send you on errand to the market, go pick up their kids from school, go and collect something from my friend on the 10th street from us . And will turn around and bemoan the fact that you haven’t learnt anything !!!! Why hasn’t someone set up a school fashion that will be professionally and prestigious run like those in the UK and New York and elsewhere?? A boss slap me??? Geez!! I wouldn’t turn the other cheek oooo! This isn’t about being a good Christian, it’s about your right infringement . God bless the writer that ensured her or his brother’s landlord was arrested !!!!!

    • Syl

      August 24, 2015 at 2:26 pm

      I think you share part of the blame. You will only be treated the way you allow yourself to be treated. You said you are on IT, that means you are an undergraduate and you allow someone treat you like this? Toh. While waiting for Lawschool results to be out and before service, I decided to learn baking. There was this woman on my friend’s street who was really good and she teaches well but she was also abusive. The day I came to buy her registration form, I told her point blank that I will not run errands for her. She said you are learning from me and serving me, you must do as I say. I told her no, I am paying for your service, it is not free. I will do what I am supposed to do but you will not ask me to buy you food, cook for you, go to the market for you, pick up your children from school, etc. I told her all of these firmly and politely and for the 6months that I was there, she never asked me to do anything I wasn’t supposed to. I could go to the market for baking supplies but she would have to send someone else if she needed fish or egusi from the market so while I buy the baking supplies, the other girl would buy whatever soup ingredient she needed. She never shouted on me for once and the one time she added the plates her children used in eating to the baking bowls I was washing, I calmly told her that she would have to wait for one of the other girls to wash it if she needed to use it.

    • Blackbeauty

      August 24, 2015 at 6:16 pm

      I admire the way you politely spoke up and stood your ground. We Nigerians tend to take a lot of things in the name of false humility. It is certainly not the same thing as paying your dues.

    • oy

      August 25, 2015 at 10:37 am

      mo gbe! slap ke? pls is dt a fashion school or just a regular tailor somewhere.. i know some people can like to have that air of superiority, something they wont try with other people no matter how old. pls dont stop bcs uve paid, try and learn all u can and leave when the money expires. for now, stand your ground, let her understand u shouldn’t be treated like a child but try not to be rude sha, find a way to talk to her..and when you are done with the training, scram!

  5. Rude gal

    August 24, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Thank you Atoke. I appreciate this subject of discussion. Violence ine the work place is totally unprofessional and uncalled for. The fact that you pay their salaries doesn’t mean you pay them for free. That is what employers should note. Hiring someone fro a job is a two-way thing, give and take. I offer my service and you pay me for it. The worse you could do is withhold part of my pay if you’re not satisfied with my job. I have never experienced such violence from a Boss though but I have seen domestic staff suffer this a lot. Employers need to find alternatives for punishments rather than violence.

  6. zeebaby

    August 24, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Na wa o. On top ur own money again, they r giving u apprentice treatment. Pele dear. I did my 3 months MBA internship in a popular Nig bank back in 2007. I started with d marketing dept, during weekly performance review meetings, d branch manager, an unmarried old lady, Vashti, (yes dat was her name) wld kneel d marketing staff down n even slap u for not making ur target. I requested for a change of dept after 2 weeks! I can imagine d full staff with no choice of transfer or change of job.

    • Zeeebby

      August 24, 2015 at 11:31 am

      Kneel down ke? Grown people? AAAAhhhhh….. This country is finished oh. Working in Nigeria is WAR….. You finally find a job and your sanity is put to test. IT IS RIDICULOUS……

    • Sandy

      August 24, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      @Zeebaby. Is there any chance of the Vashti being that od D bank on Awolowo road, Ikoyi?

    • Ojie

      August 24, 2015 at 1:17 pm


    • moi

      August 24, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      Why the emphasis on her marital status?? What’s her being unmarried got to do with her actions. I’m confused

    • Fashionista

      August 24, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      Please leave her abeg, she was being descriptive. That’s the only thing you saw to pick up in everything she wrote abi? Did you not read they are kneeling down and facing the wall and chopping slaps IN AN OFFICE!!!!

    • Ayoka

      August 24, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      No Fashionista, she wasn’t being descriptive. She made that point about her single status for a reason. Are there not married women that do the same?

    • mae

      August 24, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      This Vashti is still a top manager in Diamond Bank! How come??? Guess no one complained or she’s bringing in serious money…….na wa o!

  7. Neo

    August 24, 2015 at 11:05 am

    I have only one question for when people treat their ‘help” badly, will you take the same from ur boss? Yelling at them constantly, poor accommodations or treatment, constant reminders that you and your family are better than they are. I guess the answer will be no.

    I can’t even take verbal abuse from my boss. The day my boss told me “shut up” I very politely told him that it was unfair and inappropriate, the funny thing was he ended up sort of apologising saying he didnt mean it that way. I guess i’m more prepared to re-enter the job market than take any form of abuse from someone I’m working for.

  8. le coco

    August 24, 2015 at 11:06 am

    atoke.. can we please also discuss the professional abuse of employees in nigeria… why will the boss make an employee go and buy lunch, pick up dry cleaning, pick up his/her kids from school.. asin if I am hired in a firm as an accountant. .. then au pair is not part of my job description. .. why should I have to be the one to take my bosses kids to mr. Biggs because they r hungry.oh go to bosses house to collect the shoe he or she has forgotten. when you speak up.. they will say its disrespect. .. smh

  9. Dr. N

    August 24, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Off topic, the line “biting your house boy” got me laughing. It reminded me of a family friend who had a squabble with her husband. She rushed to d hospital, reported that he bit her and requested a HIV test. Lol.
    Back to d topic, it is wise to enquire about d boss before taking any job. Violence, delayed or diverted salaries verbal abuse should not be tolerated. Quit and start your own hustle. Peace of mind increases productivity, I tell u.
    As for running errands, first make yourself indispensable by working extra hard. Then refuse to pick up dry cleaning. If he or she still has d guts to fire you, be sure u will be head hunted by a better employer.

  10. Magz

    August 24, 2015 at 11:34 am

    Employer slapping employee??? Well, the one that happened that really pissed me off was a superior slapping her subordinate.

    Fortunately for the superior (we were peers when she was in the company), she had left the Company when i heard of the barbaric act. If i had known immediately after the act, i would have pushed for her termination with no hope of good reference. If that had not happened, i would have beaten her black and blue and dropped my resignation letter! It was that serious.

    She intimidated the girl for no reason, verbally abused her and then decided to slap her! Something that even the business owner has never done before.

    Employer slapping employee??? The day my employer tries it (God forbids bad thing o), i’ll calmly take it and start planning my revenge – since we’re all trying to be unprofessional. I will find a way to lace his tea/food with purgative. I will definitely do other things (that i cannot write on BN :D) before i finally resign.

    Rubbish! Slap kwa????

  11. NigerianGirl

    August 24, 2015 at 11:36 am

    I daresay the bounced cheque issue is to be blamed on our institutions?
    Here, in Ivory Coast, there are consequences for issuing such cheques. If your cheque bounces, be sure of a huge deduction in your account balance, as soon as there is enough money in the account to deduct. So, people try to avoid that situation.
    Also, here, employment laws are almost 95% in favour of employees, so go ahead and slap and face the law. I have seen where an employee stole from an employer, got sacked and the employer was asked to pay the employee who stole from him, , simply because, he didn’t follow due process in the sacking. So our beloved Nigeria and her institutions need to wake up!

    @Moimoi……..Atoke was talking about her own parents, not yours….stop being so judgemental, abeg!

  12. Zeeebby

    August 24, 2015 at 11:42 am

    The average Nigerian has no respect or regard for the next person (just check out the way people drive in this country). This is evident in the way we relate with others and it becomes worse when there is an age gap or some other perceived “gaps” e.g qualifications, experience.
    When it comes to the workplace, I believe everyone should be given the same level of respect. The fact that you are the MD doesn’t mean you can talk rudely to anyone in the organisation; not even then gate-man. when people start to feel disrespected by their employer, a cycle of failure starts…you loose motivation, you clearly would not like the person subjecting you to humiliation, you cannot relate well with the person hence your work relationship is affected, bad work relationship=fall in performance, and on and on and on.

  13. Me

    August 24, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    There must be labour laws sitting somewhere that covers such. Except for this story, I probably would not think any one would pay N10k salary and here I was thinking the offer I put out was bad.

    I offered N35,000- N50,000 monthly for a trainee journalist job I advertised in Nigeria for a publication I do in the UK. With opportunity to become permanent after 1 year, 24 days paid holiday and l stated that fresh graduates without experience but with good command of English language were welcome- the main essence would be; giving a fresh graduate the chance to gain the required experience while earning something fair (I know 35k is not a lot- but there’s no transportation cost as the person would work from home, plus we pay another 7k for internet access).
    Lo and behold, I saw fresh graduates of English, literature and some communications degree asking for 250k, with no experience at all.

    Atoke, please write about this situation. Not every one getting out of University immediately lands a KPMG or Ernst and Yong job with 500k per month. Some had to do call centre work for 6 months to 1 year to gain experience and pay today’s bills while interviewing for better jobs.

    The few I could manage I sent a written test. 50% never bothered to do the test, the other 50% – reading their essays gave me headache. If the issues were spelling errors alone, I could edit easily, but when every line has poor grammar, where do you start from?

    Atoke perhaps your friend needs a better job?

    • Doxa

      August 24, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      KPMG, Ernst & Young…N500k for fresh graduate…I FAINT! It’s a lie o please!
      They pay a little above N100k for fresh graduates abeg.

    • Job seeker

      August 24, 2015 at 1:05 pm

      If you don’t mind, how can i contact you for the job, please? That is if the offer is still up for grabs. Thank you.

    • Me

      August 24, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      Of course, it’s still available. My email address is: [email protected].
      It’s zero after the underscore not letter o, do take note please.

    • Observer

      September 30, 2016 at 5:20 pm

      I can already spot an error in your sentence. That’s exactly what the person was talking about! Sigh!

    • delta geh

      August 24, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      lol @ 500k at KPMG, EY… Please check your facts… its far from that @ least for beginners.

    • Ayoka

      August 24, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      Doxa and delta geh. Read and let it sink in. She didn’t say that fresh grads earn 500k. She wrote “Not every one getting out of University immediately lands a KPMG or Ernst and Yong job with 500k per month. ”
      Meaning that you cannot graduate today and immediately start earning 500k.

    • Dhee

      August 24, 2015 at 4:01 pm

      @Me, I am a graduate of English currently serving. Is the application still possible?

    • Me

      August 24, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Yes please, use the email address in my response to @jobseeker to send your resume please, thanks.

  14. Becca

    August 24, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    You don’t need any body to safeguard physical abuse of employees other than the police. If an employer slaps me and HR isn’t doing anything then to appease me/situation then I call the cops. Can’t imagine any employer here would raise their hand to staff, they know they could be done with assault and and a fine.
    You don’t need a union for such but an effective police force.

  15. Rude gal

    August 24, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    One thing i know is that Nigerian employers can ‘”use”” person for Africa.. choiiiiii… U’ll perform duties outside your job description, work overtime without compensation, but when you’re unavoidably late on some occasions, it’s war. Not to mention abusive words that can diminish one’s self esteem. it’s all wronggggg… God help us o

  16. oj

    August 24, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    effective police force here in Nigeria? the employer might just pay the police man to arrest you, the employee that called them in the first place

  17. AsakeAde

    August 24, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Talking about house help ….My nanny and house help are the ones who made me know am not a bad person as I had thot of my self, yes I shout , but I have never raised my hand or insulted them above measure . Growing up I have imagined how I will treat people that worked for me and with these two , I am happy with the woman I’ve become . We are more like family ,and I am glad they are both at home looking after my twin girls well cos I deserve it. These days they even laughed at me when I start my screaming cos they know it will end the next min without me doing nothing. I also have to beg them to keep a certain meat for my husband cos they will eat it if I don’t , that’s how free they are to my pot of soup and I have never allowed them to cook for me o. Aside paying my nanny salary , I pay her son school fees and am presently saving for my house help university education cos I want her to further . Yes! I want to brag cos I feel so good with myself . And I need I say God is paying me back , cos my manager just informed me this morning to be expecting a salary increase , she’s speaking with the HR on my behalf . I’m so happy .

    • moi

      August 24, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      But what has this got to do with the article though?

    • faith

      August 25, 2015 at 8:31 am


  18. First hand experience

    August 24, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    I have a boss in the office who is the number 3 person, no she doesn’t slap but she intimidates people, when she drives in, someone must carry her bag, she wears heels a lot and when she is tired she sends someone to get her flats from the car and drop the heels, she once called a junior colleague drunk because he met her to sign an official document for him while she was gisting with friends. She expected him to wait for her to finish gisting before approaching her. She calls everyone by their first names but wants to be addressed as madam
    well, I personally do not give her the opportunity to ride over me. I have never carried her bag.

  19. First hand experience

    August 24, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    If she approaches me to do anything slavish, il just ask her to show me in civil service rules where it is stated that a subordinate should do such acts for a superior

  20. Ocean Beauty

    August 24, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Sorry to all the slapees, especially in the professional setting. Sometimes I think it also boils down to how you carry yourself in the office place. I am not advocating for being proud or rude but learn to draw the line between things to avoid “see finish” except your job description includes messenger/office assistant.
    When I was a personal assistant, my boss selects the errands he sends me and if there is no driver, forget it. The day he shouted at me over the phone. I sent him a mail Telling him never to shout at me again. It should never happen.
    There is this secretary at work who is sent all kinds of errands including going to Okearin. I am waiting for the employer who will send me to the market.
    If u send me fresh tomatoes, I will buy you tinned one. If you send me to buy you cat fish, I will buy you stock fish and tell you I don’t know the difference.
    Hitting domestic employees is barbaric and sheer wickedness.

    • Ojie

      August 24, 2015 at 1:24 pm


  21. The real D

    August 24, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Where there is no law, rubbish prevails!!! It just the same reason you see people pulling belt out on the road on a fellow commuter because said person did not drive the way “they” deem fit. I have never understood why people rush into business without taking into consideration what it really entails. I guess many are just there to line their pockets and that’s why i say when people complain about those in government looting, I still say take the average Nigerian and put them in that same position, they will also still steal!!! You see the most religious person, denying their employees pay, yet their wives come and take money from the business to buy ipad and travel all over the place because their mates are doing the same. Yet employees are not paid but you are getting paid and fed and then taking food from other individuals mouth/table to indulge in luxury you actually cannot afford. Then you take it a step further and deliver a slap to my face literally, I shall be retaliating and walking away. I mean N10k cheque that is already being denied what is the point??? to work for working sake??? Naaaa you get double slap and i am out. PEACE!!!!

  22. Que

    August 24, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Heeeyyy people, peace be unto this house….amem!

    Yup, to this issue… Atoke, firstly lets clarify that its not an ‘entrepreneurial’ thing… this problem is just as bad in the wider private and public companies, as it is in the smaller scale ones. I mean, at the executive level, how do u describe a bank MD asking a long standing Director in his company to “…please shut it if he had no valuable response to the issue at hand….”- o and this was in front of his subordinates…. that is just as much a slap as any….. you go ask GT and Access bankers…. even at the mid management level….its ridiculous!

    It is a human problem, cos it isn’t peculiar to Nigeria, it is only pronounced here cos our Labour comrades and Unions only fight enough to earn themselves enough public support for advanced political roles; rather than actually look into issues labourers have to contend with. There is so much insecurity in the so called secure 9-5…. People hire and fire as they please, abuse, encourage and then cover up abuse…its a wide spread problem

    . I mean many entrepreneurs started off as staffers in so called ‘organised institutions’ where too many MDs rose as a matter of intellect, politics and technical skills rather than a recognition of their leadership abilities… How many MDs can inspire their workforce to think and challenge themselves without threat of sack, or insults to their person or background…. this is the larger picture of this slap problem. There is very little dignity in nigerian labour, and the slapping happens cos many bosses cannot distinguish between personal life and professional life etiquette (not that you should go around slapping people in your personal life sha)….

    I will embarrassingly admit, I once saw a very close family member slap her staff once, of course I couldn’t let it slide, in a private moment I called her out, point blank….and used myself as an example….that should any boss decide to slap me, he/she should be prepared for a return slap, after which I will exit….cos the reality is I have a choice, I will only starve for a while, before finding my feet again. I will fight for myself, cos no laws will fight for me….she was shocked to say the least, but I helped her realize, that she could easily have gotten an unexpected return slap in front of her remaining workers… then what?

    If you want to venture into any leadership position either as an entrepreneur or as a manager in a firm, please you owe it to yourself to first learn patience, and humility, self control, learn how to manage personalities and conflict, learn how to encourage effective communication, and encourage openness….that way even when there is a clash, you focus solely on the issue at hand with the sole goal of creating solutions, without dragging their mothers and cousins into it. Also, it helps to know thineself….we’re not all called to lead the same way, some will lead from the top, others from the middle…. if you’re a better team player type, please leave those singular leadership roles for the people with the ability… nothing is as bad as being your second best self, when you can be your best in different situation.

    have a merry week.

    • Ojie

      August 24, 2015 at 1:38 pm

      I concur

    • TA

      August 24, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      @ Que, peace be unto you too for speaking the truth candidly about what obtains in most institutions in Nigeria. As for erring banks,the list is not complete without adding Zenith o. And for telecomms, they are all flouters esp Glo. As for the bit about labour leaders, you ain’t ever lied. So called labour leaders have their eyes on juicy settlement packages or political appointments/positions later so they cannot be bothered with whose rights are being trampled on in the workplace. Na so we see am

  23. ada

    August 24, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    @atoke while i was in abuja last year at a restaurant wit my dad.. A male customer slapped a male staff and poured the dirty water he used to wash hand on his body all because the guy cleared his finished plate and he never requested for him at their table……to say i was not disgusted was an understatement i lost my appetite and requested to leave immediately also asking to see the manager who was not dad explained to me its normal so no need to leave….i felt a sense of is this how someone should be treated because you have money? is raising your hand to another adult necessary? to make matters worse the customers wife was even supporting her husband..ur man does that in public and u cant shut ur mouth and hide in shame….. i literally was dumbfounded and cursed both of them out and walked out.. couldnt believe you treat people with disrespect and expect one day karma wont get you..i really do hope people change their attitude sometimes it is lack of exposure and backward mindset that makes someone treat people like that..

  24. nunulicious

    August 24, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    I have come close to being violent to my staff. Prior to getting a driver I NEVER had to queue at the Lekki toll gate because I always ensure my etag is loaded so I just zoom through the fast lane.
    Now I employed this driver this year and the first time the tag finished I excused him and educated him on monitoring the account so the incident doesn’t repeat itself. Second time it happened, I gave him a dire warning, gave him the context of how important timing is for our business and how important his role is in ensuring he gets us to our appointments without delay. The annoying thing is he just gives this silly small smile whenever he is in the wrong.

    Now last week, I nearly went berserk. I had an important appointment with a new client and could potentially generate some cool business. Guess what, driver dear had forgotten to top it up because according to him it was about N500 left on it earlier in the week when he checked it last. Bear in mind that the staff in the vehicle with him had reminded him about loading the eta and the cash for the etag was already in the pigeon hole (is that what its called?) in the car.

    Dear employers, I know its wrong to hit your staff but there are moments when I want to punish them for their incompetence or verbally abuse them once in a while. I have several stories when I wanted to pull my hair out but why should I punish myself for their ineptitude?
    I didn’t hit him. neither did I verbally abuse him. But mehn, I cannot be sure what my response would be when it happens again. I know it will happen again I just hope I have the self-control not to be a mean boss.
    Abi all ye life coaches and HR experts, mbok educate me on strategies I can use to prevent a re-occurence? Or should I just give up and assume his IQ cannot process that small pre-emptive detail (hence that is why he is a driver)?

    • GEE

      August 24, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      i can understand how annoying it is to keep repeating instructions. i have helps at home and i know how much of my energy is directed in issuing and reissuing instructions. in my case i cannot sack them cos i do not pay them. they are relatives who offered to stay since i needed help while i take care of their school and general upbringing. but believe you me if i actually pay them, i will just sack straight to avoid me getting HBP on top person matter. simple instruction cannot be obeyed. it bits me. Maybe sacking him will be an option or target his salary but inform him before you touch his salary. inform him that if such repeats that his salary will be used to renew it. believe you me he will not try it again. but if he does kindly, quietly and politely reduce it from his salary. his brain will reset.

    • nunulicious

      August 24, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      ehn but I am fundamentally opposed to deducting salary. I think his salary is earned work and so long as he doesn’t miss work, he gets it.

    • Amy

      August 24, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      Oh dear I can so relate to you. My mum has similar issues with her driver and he totally drives her crazy but she has never hit him. All she does is threaten to cut out of his salary but I think she has done it just once. Maybe you could cut out of his salary(a very small amount) that will show him that he should listen to instructions carefully but don’t forget to make it up in the next month’s pay.
      I’ll say what my mum’s friend always tell her ‘just forgive him,if he was as smart as you are or want him to be,he’ll probably not be a driver”.
      Laugh at his misbehavior when it’s not to bad because you could really have worse situations.

    • Ayoka

      August 24, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      That small smile will kill me, I know myself. If I were you, I will tell him to stay at home for now. When he is ready to be professional and comply with directives, he can come back and you will see if you can accommodate him. Get yourself a professional driver, there are plenty of them that won’t give you that contemptuous small smile.

    • evab

      August 24, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      If your employee is not performing according to your requirements then its is your job to relieve him or her of their duties and get someone you feel is more capable. No screaming, yelling, violence or control of anger is needed to get that done.

    • Que

      August 24, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      The next time it happens my winshi side will drop him at the toll gate and drive myself.. If he doesn’t come back, pay what is due and move on… if he does, he will have to sign T&Cs on adherence to the required responsibilities and be advised of consequences…

  25. GEE

    August 24, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    as am typing this. my colleague is out there buying a list of food items for the General Manager. My director sends my colleagues to bring her child from school.. Also takes the supervisor to the market to help her do her monthly shopping. I always wonder if they are paid for these chores. maybe I am just lucky not to be sent on such errands. But this is Naija if you say no, all kind of trap setting will be activated to terminate your employment. haa may God help us.

  26. Jane

    August 24, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Abuse in the workplace is not limited to just slaps. I worked for a fashion house in Ikoyi and the their modus operandi was to recruit you based on false incentives. Being a Lawyer I spoke up when they paid below what we agreed, I spoke up when they omitted my name from the training I was told I would be a part of and they didn’t like that. They failed to give me a contract and when they did(after much complaint), it was a blank contract. I am a Lawyer and I know the implications of signing a blank contract.
    I left in June after I was underpaid again and they obviously had no plan to keep to their word. I inquired from their employees and they told me that’s how they were lured from their countries based on false promises. They just want to “manage” the salary.
    I know my rights and I know I deserve better and I wish the Nigerian Labour Law will be reviewed so that all these lapses will be covered.

  27. Vee

    August 24, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Personally, I think part of Buhari’s agenda should be setting up an employment tribunal to handle such employment issues and exploitation of workers. Any employer found guilty should be made to pay a fine and compensation.

  28. Joe

    August 24, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Is that journalist position still up for grabs? You’ll be making a mistake if you ignore me, trust me.
    Here’s my email: [email protected]

  29. Joe

    August 24, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Is that journalist position still up for grabs. You’ll be missing out if you ignore this message, trust me.
    Here’s my email address: [email protected]

    • Dr. N

      August 25, 2015 at 8:49 am

      Sweetheart you don’t speak in that tone to an employer.

    • Anonymous Aboki

      August 25, 2015 at 7:02 pm

      Lol, Glenn Greenwald baba..

  30. Koffie

    August 24, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    My boss asked me to help him pick up DVDs from Slot the other day, I told him with a smile that it wasn’t in my job descriptions and that I quite agreed with him when he once mentioned keeping his personal life from our work. I however handle the supplies (coffee, A4 paper…) in the office which I most times send the messengers. It’s a small start-up business but I have never experienced delayed salary or any stories that touch. I think I once mentioned on here how I had seen a grown man (normal banker) being asked to make us coffee at a bank’s headoffice when we had a meeting with two of their executives. I was shocked oo and I later told my boss I was glad he makes his own coffee and doesn’t send me around. But this DVD event ehn, I had to remind him I wasn’t there for that. Loool

  31. Menoword

    August 24, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    I had one boss who used violence and insults as a source of motivation. After she threatened to slap me I started planning my exit, didn’t help that she had thrown a glass at another staff member the week before.

  32. babygiwa

    August 24, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    As a Human Resources enthusiast, I can’t believe what I am seeing here. Why are people stooping to such savagery? We need stricter labour laws with emphasis on employees rights. Not fair at all.

  33. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    August 24, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Inasmuch as we speak as people who would not take such treatment from others, there are those who remain silent behind the keyboard and cannot voice out how they are being meted such treatment on a regular basis. The Jackie Chan moves some of us claim to have made (or will make), makes them all the more ashamed to speak up that they cannot stand up for themselves.

    Most of them are stuck because of their dependents; others because they acutely believe that another job would be hard to find ; some because there simply isn’t enough time to find another job; others, in some twisted way, think they deserve such treatment. It is also a perverted form of thinking to endure such in hopes that some day, your boss would see you for the hardworking, committed and sincere person that you are and would accord you the respect and commendation you deserve.

    If you are reading this, and such abuse has become a regular feature in your life, I need you to understand that you are not helping anyone; not yourself or the person who is inflicting the treatment. I have come to discover that such people carry “hidden shallows” i.e they scare easily. The day you stand up for yourself, the bravado behind the yells drops; the threat empties and the mediocrity shows.

    Don’t for a moment think everyone here has some metal steel for back bone. We don’t. We learnt to stand up for ourselves the hard way. We learnt it because at one time or the other we have been on the receiving end of a yell, a slap and a beating or an insult disguised as critism. We did not like how it made us feel: Like we were nothing. So we stand up for ourselves. We do it trembling, We do it quaking. But we do it all the same. Sadly, it does not get better in the sense that there would always be a bigger bully than the last one you had to deal with. And you have to reach down to find the strength to shout “Hell No” (not exactly those words, pls).

    I recently told someone off. Lordy! It was the best darned feeling ever! I smiled and smiled for days. I’m still smiling. That liberated feeling was off the charts. You can’t buy it with money. But you know what, it took me a year to the day to able to do. I wished I could have found the courage earlier. But boy I’m I glad I finally did.

    So don’t think the people who come here have some courage conferred on them by reason of pedigree, Queen’s English or because they live in obodo oyibo. The hustle for self respect knows no bounds. And you know what? its within your reach.

    • Od

      August 25, 2015 at 12:38 pm


  34. Tosin

    August 25, 2015 at 6:35 am

    lawyers. the first time somebody gets a 1m settlement for a 10k slap, the story will change.

  35. puzzles

    August 25, 2015 at 8:10 am

    @ayoka, I think u are the one who needs to read well. This is what she said (I copied and pasted) “Not every one getting out of University immediately lands a KPMG or Ernst and Yong job with 500k per month”, implying that those who get KPMG and Ernst and Young immediately after university get 500k a month. the commenters were merely correcting her becos that statement is not true.

    • Manny

      August 25, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      That’s the way YOU choose to interpret it. If I say not everyone that graduates with a law degree from Harvard buys a boat a month after graduation, I am definitely not implying that everyone who graduates with a law degree from Harvard buys a boat a month after.
      It would be stated as an analogy for what people get after many years on the job. Don’t interpret things so literally. I think it was very obvious what she meant.

  36. Friday's other child

    August 25, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Tosin is spot on, when people start paying hefty fines and possibly serve jail time for harassment in the workplace, they’ll think twice before dishing out all this abuse that”s become prevalent. A gap in the market perhaps for ‘ no win no fee’ work place harassment law firms?

  37. nwanyi na aga aga

    August 25, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    After graduation, I worked for a abusive employer. That man was cray cray shaa. He would slap workers, beat them, cut salary, abuse your parents, even bring police to lock them up. Omo his staff were really scared of him. And apart from that none of them had a better alternative. His biggest trap was his staff quarters where he charges 500naira per month. And this room is spacious can take a family of four comfortably, coupled with the fact that he is into furniture business. He would furnish the room wella with foreign fittings. So imagine a new factory hand who comes into the employment and sees such accommodation cheap, comfortable and you can also live with your siblings if you wish just for 500naira per month in the center of the town who will not be trapped. That staff quarters trapped a lot of people. I came as his personal assistant. when i saw his evil side, I always kept to myself. then the nonsense errands started, go with the driver to buy food, go and pick my clothes from the dry cleaner, go and accept the delivery of my perfume and suits. Well as a PA that was kinda my job description, so I was doing the job o. I really needed the money cos I was trying to prove something to my Dad. Fast forward to 2 months later, he instructed I type the invoice for a job he did for state govt, but there was no diesel as his son didn’t buy any. He arrived very early in the morning and decided to shout at me instead of his son. he shouted, I shouted back, he increased his voiced I increased mine, I was tired of his rubbish, everyone including his son was surprised, then he threatened to slap me, I just stood there and looked right into his eyes. I promised myself that if he tried it, he will get double, he walked to me when he got to like a feet away from me. He put his hand down and said, “You are very lucky”. From there i started planning my exit o. The day I left I didn’t even resign properly. I just left and never returned.
    Nigerian employment no be here o, even in multinationals, they frustrate people. I also left another job during NYSC cos of this same treatment. Even in my current job when I was in the branch my direct supervisor decided to take a piss cos she felt I was new, I called her to order sharply. I might be young but not stupid, the woman reported me to all high and mighty. I went and stated my case. No one called her to order for calling me names, they only started saying I should not have reacted cos she was my supervisor, what does that mean? We shaa dug it out, we worked according to policy till she hear am, no corner kicks for her infact she had to beg me. I witnessed her repeat the whole process of intimidation and bullying to every new staff. I just knew she was a hopeless case. One pregnant lady wept and wept cos of the treatment she got. I was tired of her weeping, I walked up to her and to everyone’s hearing and said “Don’t allow your mate bully you in Life, if this job goes another one will come, believe it and it will happen!!” The woman decided to stand up for herself o, and that was it. Stand up for yourself, if they sack you, you wont die, your dependants wont die either. Once you stand up for yourself people will start to respect you. But once you start to act like the job is the beginning and end of your die be that.

  38. tutu

    August 25, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Biting your houseboy? ewwwww! Nasty!

  39. Gina

    September 2, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    It’s really a shame! Thanks Atoke for this write-up! Since the internet has somehow taken food off the mouths of most publications in Nigeria, a lot of journalists are experiencing salary slashes, non-payment of salaries and the rest. I’m sure I should know who could descend so low as to slap an employee *but I won’t mention names*. These our media industries have so much drama behind closed doors ehn, forget the glitz and glam you see. May God help us all.

  40. urerime

    September 30, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Atoke, I am a silent reader of your write ups and i must say you crack me up in every article. i just love the way you put in humor in every article. i love the way you write and i hope you would teach a class on creative writing.

    i live in Abuja, i it would be so nice if you come over and do a three weeks or six weeks (what ever time frame you think is best) course on creative writing. i bet there are a handful of people who would pay to learn, i know i would.

    so to the issue of physical/verbal abuse in the work place. it is really a shameful thing. i honestly cant think of any good reason for it. but here is what i think, i think people should develop a culture of respecting everyone whether the person is older, younger, more educated. less educated, rich, poor the way they would love to be respected. this idea of thinking because you are the Madam you are bigger and better than your employees is a major reason for abuse.

    if you have been abused (physically or sexually) by your employer, pls go and report to the police after that get a lawyer and sue. be sure to have a witness or an evidence of the abuse.. Nigerians are reluctant to patronize our legal system, i understand why but we should try. we have laws in this country but we dont refer to them. by the time one or two people face the legal implications of abusing their staff, others will learn.

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