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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: 53 Cents Per Word

Atoke

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There’s something about Suze Orman’s show that makes me think about Nigerians and our secretive nature when it comes to our income and earnings. The financial guru has a segment of the show called ‘Can I Afford It?’ – where callers list out their assets, liabilities and income with respect to something they want to buy. Suze Orman then analyses the variables and yells ‘Approved’ or ‘Denied’. Every time I catch a re-run, I wonder if any Nigerian would openly voice their income to anyone, much less on TV.
The thing is, we don’t tell anybody our salaries. You get a new job and someone asks you how much the new organization is offering; you smile and say ,”it’s not bad, sha.” Nobody tells you how much they earn. There’s always a shroud of secrecy around your income.
Do you think I’m exaggerating? Okay, tell me how much you earn. No, I’m not joking. I am really asking you to tell me how much is on your pay cheque. Okay, I get it. I’m not your friend, or family member, or colleague. I’m just a stranger on the Internet.

Would you tell your friends then? When was the last time you actually told someone how much you earned? Does your spouse know how much you earn? I mean, it really doesn’t get closer than someone you are married to, now does it?
“Nobody knows how much I earn because it’s not anybody’s business.” My friend, Tomi* retorted when I brought up the issue of our secrecy when it comes to our income. She went on to explain that one of the reasons why she never tells anyone her income is because she ends up either being begged incessantly for money, or she ends up being judged unfairly.

She isn’t the only one who feels this way. My Besto, Mo, agrees with her. He said he is a staunch advocate of not declaring his income to anybody, because the one time he mentioned how much he was being paid, it came back to him on a night out at the club. “You that you’re earning ‘armed robber salary’, you no fit buy bottle for guys.”
This unfortunate state of things has really created a problem for people who genuinely need to know these figures for more useful purposes.

Atoke CheeriosAs a Nigerian writer, trying to determine how much to charge for a feature piece is like pulling teeth. It doesn’t help that there’s very little information on the industry benchmark. Do you charge per word written? Do you cost the hours invested in doing research and then charge appropriately? Do you just quote the going rate of the publication you’ve pitched to?

It’s incredibly frustrating because there’s nobody to ask. Nobody will tell you how much he or she is paid; so you don’t have a yardstick. One time I asked someone how much he charges to write press releases and he responded with “it depends”. I innocently sat there waiting for him to provide further insight. What are the factors? Help me! I have no clue about the going rates of these things in Nigeria, that’s why I’m asking. He ended up blowing me off, asking me to seek help elsewhere.

I did… on the Internet. Of course what I found there helped to craft and guide my own rates; but it had very little information on the going rates in Nigeria.

The going rates for different fields, level of expertise is pretty common information in the West. You ask an American how much they earn and they tell you 70, 000 per annum. It’s not the key to Armageddon so they just hand it to you. There’s no fear that the asker is going to ask them to help pay their children’s school fees, or that the asker is going to start calculating their disposable income for them. It is just a simple response to a simple question.

However, Mo and I disagree on this. He insists I am being overly simplistic. When I raised the point of having that information handy -especially for negotiations for a new job- he said, “People will give you a ballpark figure. Don’t expect more than that. Do you really need to know the actual figure?”

I responded that it helps to know what you’re working with before you go into a negotiating room with prospective employers. Besides, employers often leverage on this shroud of secrecy to get you to under-negotiate.

‘What value am I adding to the company?’
‘How much is the company willing to pay for the services I am offering?’
‘What do they currently pay for their existing staff in that role?’

“These are very valid questions, so it would really help if my friend who works for that company gives me some information” – I insisted.

Mo snorted, “Look, even husbands don’t tell their wives how much they earn. You’re now expecting a friend to tell you how much he earns? People will automatically think you want to start helping them spend their money.”

He was right, and his words reminded me of a comment I read on BellaNaija under a wedding post. Someone commented that Lamide Akintobi was not wearing the aso-ebi, and went on to say they were sure Ebony Life didn’t pay that poorly.

I cringe in shame at the mindset of this generation. How do you in good conscience genuinely think it’s okay to sit in your house and apportion how another person chooses to spend his income?

Now, the pool is so muddied by these people, that we can’t innocently ask for income details in order to have a better understanding of how an industry works.

Trust is a fundamental element of every relationship; let us try to uphold its sanctity, so that people can slowly let down the bridges on the basic and simple things of life.

Let us be kind, considerate and thoughtful in everything we do. It really comes down to the simplicity of interacting in a humane manner, so that life can be easier for all of us.

Peace, love & celery sticks.

Toodles!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Marklamoyne

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 atoke.com for more information.

51 Comments

  1. Nammy

    September 21, 2015 at 11:31 am

    I see nothing wrong in declaring My earnings but I don’t because of the reasons you stated, and trust me, it has happened a lot so I gave up on being honest with that. I also don’t say my age, not because I feel its somehow but because of how people react

  2. Scared Homosapien

    September 21, 2015 at 11:36 am

    I’m a public servant and i earn approximately N124k every month. Hehehehe….
    I usually tell my parents what i earn whenever i change jobs, but i didn’t tell them about this present one, so they just assumed i earned a lot and went ahead to demand for things, continually. I broke down one day, when my mum asked me to get something for her and i told her that i couldn’t afford it (i always give them 30k every month). I had to get my employment letter and showed what i earned to her and how i do my spending, monthly. That was when she calmed down a little. I think its sometimes best for you to share what you earn with family members so they don’t burden you with a lot. Just make sure you set aside a monthly package for them (anyway, i do this because my parents are retired and they really spent on my education and life).

    • larz

      September 21, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      This is why Americans can do it and we cant. Most Nigerians have an entitlement mentality, it is not even funny. If 30k maintenance money was enough for your parents when you earned 123k, why isn’t it enough now? To each their own, I wouldn’t call being forced to declare how much you earn to your mum with proof a win.

      Isn’t it funny when people that want to borrow money become financial advisors when they know or think they know your salary. They say stuff like; I know you earn XX, take your mortgage, utilities, travel and maintenance, you should have XX left. You should be able to dash / lend me 50% of that. I will manage it. Or when my sister’s ex husband was excited about her going back to school and he started calculating how her student grant will be spent and how much of it should be his allowance. There is a special place for people like this. I wont say where but you people are very special.

      I am selective with whom I share my salary information with. Obviously my husband. I told him when we were dating but I also dated men I couldn’t tell. I will only divulge money information if I think our rship can handle it. I need to understand your approach to life, esp money and how entitled you are about stuff. If I am unsure about you or I know you attitude rubs me the wrong way, then I wont tell you anything. Better you leave thinking I am a snub than a

    • Manny

      September 21, 2015 at 11:34 pm

      Exactly Larz, don’t I just hate it when people start to spend your money for you. Ahn ahn sebi you earn so so so, even if you pay so so so rent/mortgage, pay so so so car note, you should be able to afford so so so. Or they ask for loans based on that. It’s annoying. A girl once asked me for $100 and said I know you can afford it. I said actually I can’t if that’s your criteria. I could have made a sacrifice for you, but since you based your request on whether I can afford it, no I can’t.
      With your spouse, if you dey yankee and you jointly file tax, no hiding oh.

    • girlee

      September 21, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      hello scared homosapien. i9 can relate with the breaking down with mums. i also had to sit mymum down to then explain things to her and how i spend. i pray to earn more so i can drop more at home. PS. its good that you are giving them, you just encouraged me, i only still earn 30K lol

  3. Busola Adedire

    Oluwabusola Adedire

    September 21, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Atoke is such a brilliant writer. I am in awe. Back to the topic, do I think disclosure is a big deal? No… but your friend Mo does have a point. People begin to look at you in a certain way once they have access to such information. Most times, it doesn’t work in your favour. What I don’t understand are those who can’t disclose their earnings to their S/O… seriously??? It is cringe worthy to think that many people still don’t understand the meaning of ‘intimacy’ in the sanctity of marriage. smh!

  4. Author Unknown

    September 21, 2015 at 11:52 am

    So, how much does Bellanaija pay you for your weekly feature, or is it the other way around? 🙂 What is income when we lie about pregnancies, knowing fully well it will be revealed sooner or later.

    • lotusflower

      September 21, 2015 at 1:32 pm

      Ha. Atoke, do you care to answer? How much does BN pay you?
      I don’t think anyone should be interested in what someone makes. As your friend said, ball-park figures should be sufficient. Also, not everyone in America shares their income. It is considered poor etiquette to ask someone how much they make.

    • Atoke

      Atoke

      September 21, 2015 at 2:14 pm

      I don’t get paid for my weekly feature.

    • TA

      September 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm

      Hahaha! Atoke mi, don’t pull that lawyerly move here jor. Okay now, let me help her rephrase the question ‘How much does Bella Naija pay you?
      Considering that you are like the Managing Editor (I could be wrong,apologies if I am) so it has to be something huge! Lol Unless,you are telling me Uche is paying you only with small chops or carrot batons. Okay, okay, I kid. *flees from Atoke’s flying green Gbemisoke shoes* .

    • Author Unknown

      September 21, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      Thanks Atoke. Ok, so how much does BN pay Isio? LOL. Just kidding. Quite frankly, there is another side to why our people hide their income, other than the reasons you have stated. It is that they want to maintain their respect in society, and as our society can be judgmental based on income levels, people either don’t want to reveal, or simply inflate these numbers and suffer in silence painfully trying to fake it. Money is important, but isn’t everything guys. Please get yourselves out of this poverty mentality, and see how much better you’ll enjoy life.

  5. temitops

    September 21, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Hey Atoke! This is not true abt d. Banking industry cos almost everyone ard has. An. Idea of how much u earn
    Infact some one called me d oda day n said ” wassup I heard ur bank just increased salaries, how far na! Remember ur. Friend o” you can imagine

  6. TA

    September 21, 2015 at 11:54 am

    I used to disclose how much I earned to anyone who asked until a mutual friend pulled my ear (literally speaking actually) and told me sternly to stop it. Her question was ‘the people asking you, do they tell you how much they earn? Aha! na so my eye open. I changed jobs a few months ago so outside family, my inner caucus of friends, no one knows how much I earn. When someone genuinely asks, I look straight in their eyes and say ‘I will tell you how much I earn if you tell me how much you earn’. I had to ask my mum (a retiree) if it was same in her era. She said it was and it was not because you were afraid people would beg you for some but simply because it was considered immodest. It would have been seen as bragging if you disclosed the amount of money you earn, cars, houses or other material possessions you had. I still think it is not a big deal but I get why people would not want to disclose it, which is why I never pry except of course you ask me first.
    Nice post Atoke.
    Have a great week y’all 🙂

  7. FasholasLover

    September 21, 2015 at 11:59 am

    It boils down to trust and not wanting to be judged. When l was still back home, I told my friend how much l earned and it came back to bite me on my butt. She said “it is only in Naija people earn xxxxxx.” On another occassion, l wanted her help with a holiday let in the US, l heard she told another friend who protested the location she found as l would be spending a lot on taxis that “…. No worry she can afford it…” Do you blame me if l no longer tell? It is for similar reasons – envy, jealousy or even pity when people look down on you because, they think you do not earn a respectable wage that makes people to shy away from telling.

    Will l tell anyone what l earn? My Parents know but come to think of it with bonuses, annual increments etc the figures keep changing. So, if you tell once to close family that is ok. Those who matter will not hound you for updates.

  8. mrs chidukane

    September 21, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Great article Atoke. Almost every thing in Nigeria is shrouded in secrecy. This reminds me of a former Senator who was being interviewed on Channels TV who claimed that after just 4 years he couldn’t remember how much salaries and allowances were when he was a Senator. I was like Gerrarahia Mehn! Nobody wants to reveal their salary, even your best friend doesn’t want to tell you. It’s their prerogative sha.

    • Hephie Brown

      September 21, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      Almost everything in Nigeria is shrouded in secrecy. Trust me not all of it has to do with people begging you for money or sense of entitlement. While growing up, and largely because of the kind of environment, i had the “ti isu eni ba ta, aa fowo boo je” mentalty. When your yam sprouts, you eat it secretly. and its not just me, its lots of nigerians. we believe when anything good is going on for us, we shouldnt tell too much people, and when things are bad, we also shouldnt look like a sorry case. Salary good or bad, tell no one!!! they are out to get you!!!

      My first job after my parents sent me to school with millions of hard earned naira, i was earning barely 43k. Who can i tell? I mean, the mere fact that my former classmates were doing waaayy better made me cringe but i couldnt bear staying home or asking folks for more money! It was an engineering company and tho administrative position, most days i got my hands dirty in oil and grease and air filters and oil filters.
      When people ask how much, i just say “shitty” and tell them im desperate for something else, but i never really say how much! Now im doing waay better but when you ask me “like how much do they pay you” , trust me ill still say “shitty but its okay”. I mean, is your salary ever enough?? lol.

      I dont have anyone around me bugging me for money, im a last born, i dont have lots of friends, im not even close enough for for anyone to come, look me in d eye and say “how much do u earn per month” ill just look at u and give u t-fare back to ur father’s village! msheeeew u are who again? Only right u got is if you want to give me a job.

      But here and now, nowhere and ever do i think ill ever say how much i earn..i reluctantly even say where i live sef..errrmmmm..people hardly even know what i do..sigh..i think im too secretive!
      hephiebrown.wordpress.com

  9. HidingMyNameToday

    September 21, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    I love this article. I am amongst the few who openly tell friends, wellwishers etc how much i earn. I have nothing to hide. But i’m always careful not to divulge it to certain people when i observe the angle they are coming from or if i’m going to be taken advantage of afterwards. There is really no big deal about telling people how much u earn if they are okay with telling you theirs as well. Infact, i started dating a new guy recently who got a new job just after we started dating and he didn’t care to hide how much they were going to pay him annually. He was just so straight forward and i was kindof shocked because most Nigerian guys won’t. But i guess he is who he is…and there’s no big deal really.

  10. Nike

    September 21, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    I used to declare my salary to friends and family, and I still will do so with my closest friends. I won’t declare to family though; reason is each time we have to fund a common family purse I hear things like, “But you earn X times more than we all do”.

    I remember when I got my current job in 2011 and I told my then boyfriend what I was earning. In fact, naive me, I sent him my employment letter which contained my the breakdown of my remuneration. From that day onward the relationship was doomed.

    The guy kept going on about how HIS OWN salary was not commensurate to his work et al. It got to a point he started monitoring my expenses and asking me to let him know when MY OWN allowances were paid! Then came the complaining and nagging about me not wanting to loan him money. We split up not long after that.

    Now, I tend to give ballpark figures of how much I earn, and I am lucky that quite a number of my friends work in my office so the question of how much one earns doesn’t come up. I try to imbibe the saying that money isn’t spoken about in polite company, so long as we don’t owe each other money and I haven’t stolen from you, I don’t care one bit how much you earn.

  11. Anonino

    September 21, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    As a nurse, about $33 per hour. Some make more depending on their night shift or weekend differential. It’s always hard to get people to tell you how much they make because they think you’re going to judge them. On the other hand kasala go burst if you find out that someone in your dept with less experience is making more than you. On the side note, can people just post how much they make in this thread, their profession, their location etc. Without any identifying information. I think that will really help other BNers to have an idea of what to expect when negotiating.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 21, 2015 at 1:02 pm

      Na true wey you talk re “kasala” wey fit burst amongst co-workers in said dept. I remember negotiating my salary when I initially joined the organization that I’m with. After some strong back and forth with the HR manager, she urged me to please keep my salary under wraps as it wasn’t “reflective” of the pay levels in the team. I mentally side-eyed her because:

      1. Wetin go bring talk of salary between me and any colleagues, na? Abeg, I save those pertinent deets for my brethren wey still dey on the outside and wey dey in need of key tips in their hustle to get “office work”.

      2. How do I know that she wasn’t just saying that to deceive me into thinking I could ease off on negotiations? As in, if I believe I’m getting a great deal better than the others, I’ll now be happy with their offer ? *more side-eyes in her direction*

      ??Anyways…. Fast-forward to 3 years later I got to experience why HR prefer to keep team members completely in the dark about such pecuniary facts. We been dey interview for one kain position wey get reporting line to me but with overall management of the position by my oga. Na im him and HR say make I follow review cvs and attend interviews. My people, na so I siddon for interview room dey listen to some of these candidates who couldn’t fully demonstrate their grasp of all the facets of the job description (it was a senior role and in my opinion, their experience was better suited to the role a step below it) but…. If you see salaries they were looking for …!!!!! Mind you, this was a couple of years ago when the industry was seriously booming and it was a job-seekers market but still…

      I think the HR rep who sat in the room with us must have seen the way my ears were flaring dangerously after a particular candidate called a figure that was sitting verrrryyyyy close to my own salary and my people, after that interview, oga say make I no sit in again oh, that they do not want to “bother” me from my normal workload. Me sef do like I no know wetin dey im mind, tell am say I go trust his judgement, meanwhile I mentally folded my arms and awaited the next salary review process … ???

  12. Neo

    September 21, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    I have heard it all from the fact that ive been paid in dollars to how I am earning armed robber salary. I know of organizations usually in the public sector that make their staff sign NDA’s prohibiting them from discussing earnings. I think the rationale behind it (especially for the Ministries) is to prevent other Ministries from clamouring for increase based on what other ministries are paying.

    Personally I’m not secretive about my earnings to family and friends, In fact I like to “declare my assets” because what they think I earn is usually not the case. I will even give an approximate figure to people who are considering a move to my organization to help them with their decision.

  13. Omobola

    September 21, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Atoke,me? Disclose my salary? Never again.For what na! My family pple no get shame for that kin tin. The other day,I was at a family function and knowing fully well that I earn well, My Aunties and all dem cousins con sit within earshot dey discuss all there problems,na so me sef join for the complain and whinning sotee, I end am with if I see money borrow.Na so story take end. Temitomiruleru.

  14. larz

    September 21, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    This is why Americans can do it and we cant. Most Nigerians have an entitlement mentality, it is not even funny. If 30k maintenance money was enough for your parents when you earned 123k, why isn’t it enough now? To each their own, I wouldn’t call being forced to declare how much you earn to your mum with proof a win.

    Isn’t it funny when people that want to borrow money become financial advisors when they know or think they know your salary. They say stuff like; I know you earn XX, take your mortgage, utilities, travel and maintenance, you should have XX left. You should be able to dash / lend me 50% of that. I will manage it. Or when my sister’s ex husband was excited about her going back to school and he started calculating how her student grant will be spent and how much of it should be his allowance. There is a special place for people like this. I wont say where but you people are very special.

    I am selective with whom I share my salary information with. Obviously my husband. I told him when we were dating but I also dated men I couldn’t tell. I will only divulge money information if I think our rship can handle it. I need to understand your approach to life, esp money and how entitled you are about stuff. If I am unsure about you or I know you attitude rubs me the wrong way, then I wont tell you anything. Better you leave thinking I am a snub than having to deal with crazy money attitude

  15. Happy go lucky

    September 21, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    As a student, I told my friends what my monthly allowance was at the time…..guess who automatically started paying for snacks and drinks?? Then I almost became the lender of the group, until my brain reset after 1 bad borrow and not pay incident.
    Even now as an entrepreneur it’s worse, people help you do your maths all the time. Do you think you can afford that? Or when they know you actually earn a lot. ….Abeg nor dey form, you get money.
    Trully, it’s best for people to not know. Abroad people know how to respect each other, but my people here think being family or even neighbor is an entitlement to whatever you have. Myself not excluded oh.
    I always look forward to atoke on Mondays, the writeup always on point and the comments are usually my favourites….keep up the good work.

  16. Motun

    September 21, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Nice write-up @Atoke.
    You have said the most obvious reason people don’t reveal what they earn and you skipped the other reason where people now size you up in a demeaning manner (close friends do this too) when you earn below (their expectations) average.
    This is another reason why people don’t even share their business concept with other genuine professionals (who just wants to be guided) because they fear they may just gather their raw ideas and strategy for their own use. I wont blame anyone for these things, it is what our society has become and who is the society again? You and I

    Let us change our ways people…

  17. thor

    September 21, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    This is not a naija thing, it is a world thing, no one is declaring thier income to you anyhow.
    It is even considered rude to ask.
    At work there will be HR issues if you start revealing your salary and bonus anyhow and are warned against it.

    So anyone freely announcing thier income is not the norm.

    Talking about the rate one charges is different as it does not equate to how much you clear on a monthly bais and if someone is being coy about his rates surely when he is commissioned for work by a client he will have to say his rates?

    For Asgard!

  18. Mz Socially Awkward...

    September 21, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Ah-toh-keh ohhhhh….. hmmmm, this eeees a very sensitive topic for Naija peepu ohhh.

    I’m one of those who used to tell particular people but even that has stopped for reasons I’ll go into shortly. However, a quick recount of my own experience in trying to “obtain” information. When I was using red-eye to comb the job market a couple of years ago (and again, this was during the period of it being a job-seeker’s market which it obviously isn’t anymore and hence why I shall adopt the “yimu” position to deny this post-haste if my current employer gets wind of such desires to move)… I turned to a friend to pump her for advice and with good reason because she no dey dull for any one company for too long before it’s time for the next lucrative jump. So, we discussed my plans and she told me to be as bold as possible but when I pressed to ask what the starting position should be, she just said, “don’t let anyone cheat you”. Of course not, so how much are we talking in reality? No factual response except to simply say that that her pay nearly doubled with her last shift. Hmmmmm…. in effect, all I could do after we spoke was just calculate her years of experience against the expected salary bracket of her last job and multiply by 2, no be so? No wahala and I didn’t hold it against her.

    Definitely understand the desire to be secretive about it and to go back to my own reasons, I used to think there was no risk of sharing details like that with family and two especially close friends until one day, one of these close friends was with me and a group of other not so close people in a discussion about us paying for something and she basically turned around to yab me in front of the group by saying, “Ah, this one is complaining when she earns twice my salary?”. So, dear brethren, I resolved from that day to never reveal information like that to her again. And because I believe in fairness and equity, I’ve also never asked her to share details of her own paycheck.

    That’s why I can understand why “my people” won’t speak freely about it because sometimes, you’re not sure what the recipient is going to do with the information. HOWEVER and saying that, I strongly believe that sometimes, there are good reasons for sharing details about salaries especially when it comes to helping newbies trying to get a footing in the job market of a newly adopted country. I remember when I first landed in Aberdeen and reconnected with a good pal who’d been working here for sometime. We were talking about my career prospects after the LLM and she casually asked me what my salary expectations were. My people, when I told her the “wonderful” salary that I had pinned my hopes on, she literally laughed in my face (as in, literally LOL’d as the kids would say) with disbelief and told me that was fresh graduates were paid more than that in the industry and I better realize that I was toting experience as well as a post-graduate degree. Even though my liver no reach me to even begin to comprehend the sort of salary she was pushing me to dream of (especially when one was trying to cross the gap of this almighty “UK experience” that recruiters kept harping on about), I remained grateful for that pointer because it made me understand my worth in real terms.

    So, I’m a big proponent of sharing (if not the full deets, maybe just the average salary expectations, as both my friends did with me) to help others.

  19. Anon

    September 21, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Sometimes, you can tell how much someone earns. In all the organisations I have worked in, based on people’s job titles, I can usually give a ballpark figure of how much someone earns.
    A colleague of mine shields anything to do with money. This year she told me her bonus was 3% of her annual salary and she said the figure she got was £2700. Do the maths.

    Nammy – with age, you can also get an estimate if for example you reveal what year you were in, in form 1. Work around numbers.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 21, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Nne, leave that sumtin oh. One of the biggest revelations that I took away after my short tenure of working in a HR team is that all job titles are not representative of their salaries and in the same vein, all title holders are not equally paid.

      I would have two contracts in my hand for employees with “manager” in their title – one on £35K (and has been around that benchmark for ages) and another on £60K and due for a lucrative uplift during the next salary review. One particular manager walked into a director’s office and then reappeared in my office with a form indicating that her salary was getting jumped up to £70K and she was asking me to draw up the necessary variation to her contract. For that one, I jejely got the HR director involved because no be me go take my hand prepare that document …

      Without seeing anyone else’s contract and regardless of position, your salary is the only one you can be sure of.

      Saying that though, we happened to accidentally stumble upon the very juicy salaries of the members of our board of directors when we received a copy of the 2014 annual report and decided to flick to the chapter titled “Remuneration”. Come and see us (including department oga) marvelling at the list of paid bonuses in hundreds of thousands. I’m not talking of base salary oh, I’m speaking of the 6-figure “jara” on top of salary that our Ogas At the very Top enjoy. And if you sack any one of them, na another 6-7 figure payout oh, for that inconvenience… When I see such salaries and extras, I know say my waka still dey very far….

    • Anon

      September 22, 2015 at 11:45 am

      Everywhere I have worked, we are put in managerial grades. For example, Grade A could be a minimum £40K and maximum £60K. Then, I can sort out who is earning what based on their CISCO certification. It’s not that hard. Same with our PMs. The minimum are on £250 a day and the maximum are on £1000K a day (qualification and certificates tell the difference.) Different rules for different fields.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 21, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      Nne, leave that sumtin oh. One of the biggest revelations that I took away after my short tenure in HR is that job titles are not representative of their salaries and in the same vein, all holders of equal title are not equally paid.

      I would have two contracts in my hand for employees with “manager” in their title – one on £35K (and has been around that benchmark for ages) and another on £60K and due for a lucrative uplift during the next salary review. One particular manager walked into a director’s office and then reappeared in my office with a form indicating that her salary was getting jumped up to £70K and she was asking me to draw up the necessary variation to her contract. For that one, I jejely got the HR director involved because no be me go take my hand prepare that document …

      Without seeing anyone else’s contract and regardless of position, your salary is the only one you can be sure of.

      Saying that though, we happened to accidentally stumble upon the very juicy salaries of the members of our board of directors when we received a copy of the 2014 annual report and decided to flick to the chapter titled “Remuneration”. Come and see us (including department oga) marvelling at the list of paid bonuses in hundreds of thousands. I’m not talking of base salary oh, I’m speaking of the 6-figure “jara” on top of salary that our Ogas At the very Top enjoy. And if you sack any one of them, na another 6-7 figure payout oh, for that inconvenience… When I see such salaries and extras, I know say my waka still dey very far….

    • Nammy

      September 21, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      @anon, I am an expert at calculating people’s age, once they just drop a hint. If u tell me you graduated from Secondary school at 17, il just store the information, two months later I could ask you what year you graduated from Secondary school and I do the math. It gives me great joy to look at someone and say with much confidence “you can’t be more than 25” especially if the person has been hiding his/her age from me.

  20. anonymous

    September 21, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Telling le boo is a no-no. I once told a bobo how much I earned. The guy begin borrow from me like mad ( though he always paid back), we began to quarrel when he started calling me stingy for not lending him money once.

    After that experience, if I meet a new guy, I ENSURE he is spending on the little things like trip to the spa/salon, makeup shopping etc. then throw in major requests. That way, it never even occurs to him that I earn money.

    As per my parents, I earn 150k datsall. My salary has been reviewed upwards but they don’t know guess it’s cos I keep my spending around 150 k. I’ve told myself that extras from promotions, bonuses, etc go into savings and investment.

    150k is enough to take care of me and still ensure mumsy ‘je owo omo’

  21. .com

    September 21, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    In my previous office, it was considered a felony to tell your divulge your income to any member of the organization reason because salaries differs even though job functions is same. I dont think its a big deal to disclose your income but only because i have grown thick skin to being called stingy and the likes of it.. n the end na my money abi?

  22. Adenike

    September 21, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    I won’t! I won’t! I will not! I most definitely would not! Secrecy is the best way of life in Nigeria. I grew up that way, so it’s 2nd nature to have a conversation with someone and filter what I’m saying…It’s like my brain is constantly analysing, and deciding what to say, and what part to keep to myself.
    Definitely, there is a part of me that just wants to bare all, but I listen to my spirit when I just feel the need to hold back. The issue of financial irresponsibility hits close to home, so I’ve just learnt to be secretive about that sort of thing. Heck, I can disclose my salary to a stranger (over the Internet) I will never see again. I can always block you! But when it comes to family members (extended), acquaintances, even friends, I will exercise caution. Because these days all some people know how to do is something stupid, and look for a bailout. And after doing it twice, or thrice…you get tired. Apparently, it looks to them that you have money to spare. For some others, you are bragging. It might not sound like that to you, but you know the human mind is complex. Before you know it, they have entered a competition with you, and are jealous of you. It’s not only salary this applies to- even clothes, jewelry, car, house etc. it’s advisable to know your audience. For some people, you can say you bought an item of #10000, for #100. For others, you can say the real price.

  23. Author Unknown

    September 21, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Okay O Atoke :). Ok, so how much does BN pay Isio? LOL. Just kidding. Quite frankly, there is another side to why our people hide their income, other than the reasons you have stated. It is that they want to maintain their respect in society, and as our society can be judgmental based on income levels, people either don’t want to reveal, or simply inflate these numbers and suffer in silence painfully trying to fake it. Money is important, but isn’t everything guys. Please get yourselves out of this poverty mentality, and see how much better you’ll enjoy life.

    More grease to your elbow sis.

  24. babygiwa

    September 21, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    I’m currently serving Nigeria, so my salary is common knowledge. Lol. But Atoks dear, being secretive is the way to live in this our Nigeria oo. I do modeling when I get good offers and I did one recently, guess what? After sharing with my friend how excited I felt doing the job and earning extra money to even dash my mom some, she called the following week asking for a loan. Of course I loaned her, because I believe a friend in need is a friend in deed. But am I going to ‘share’ next time? Nah. She has paid me back but I am going to follow momsie’s good advice: If you have 1 million or 1 naira, don’t let anyone know. Manage your money and self without outside help, if you can.

  25. Benbella

    September 21, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    It will surprise you that in the West, people do not disburse information about what they earn that easily these days.

    In Yankee to be exact, due to the increasingly cut-throat nature of the corporate environment no doubt incensed by the recent recessions especially in the oil industry, people are becoming more secretive and less shortcoming about disclosing their pay package especially when discussing with co-workers or peers. It is not uncommon for companies to pay workers in the same role and grade different salaries, sometimes with a 10k-15k difference. You sometimes get what you negotiate, not what you deserve. And there are negotiation techniques to make a company pay you the highest going rate, without shortchanging yourself. This will take another page, and I dont have the time today.

    Remember that a pay package does not only constitute the monetary compensation. There are medical benefits, holiday packages and other conveniences like the ability to work from home, fix ones own hours or do a 9/80 schedule (every other Friday off) that goes into the package. So sometimes knowing how much one takes home every month, does not give you full islightly

    The main advantage is that in Yankee, Jand and co, there are online tools which one can use like Glassdoor, Payscale, Indeed which give you an pay and compensation scale for each type of role per industry and per company. So say if you are a Financial Analyst you can find out what they are paid in Shell, DOW Industries, Deloitte etc. I believe there are also some information on there for Nigerian organisations just not on a major scale.

    I however find it absurd that spouses would keep this kind of information from each other. How on earth are they supposed to plan financially for the future without full disclosure.

  26. The real D

    September 21, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    I don’t hesitate to give ball pack of my earnings especially to people seeking jobs in my industry. My company actually has a ball pack for each level and position posted on its website so it is actually easily accessible and based on my experience, they do follow
    It. My hubby, my sister and a particular friend ( friend is Caucasian) know how much I make. I feel there are people that need to be aware of your earnings these are the people that I trust to put my ” situation” in place should disaster strike.
    But yes, there are people who are not aware of how much I take home and already feel they are entitled to helping me spend my money for those…. Naaaah. Even if they claim they want it for job seeking purposes, I still will not reveal.

  27. Koffie

    September 21, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Without even reading the comments above, I already know that my “waka is still far” (In Mz. SA’s words). I once told a ‘good friend’ where I work and what I earn after he asked (as I had just gotten the job at the time) and this guy (friend of about 10 years) made mockery of it on his BBM pm. I jejely told God and deleted him on my BBM. I am hopeful that the big bucks will come and I will have a fulfilling career but in the mean time, I will not be ashamed of my little beginning, my story will be sweeter to tell because of it.
    I would never tell people how much I earn though, I don’t need the accompanying pity or a repeat of what I narrated up there. And my folks knows not to offer me handouts, e no reach like that biko.

  28. Angel Deco

    September 21, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    With my mum, you just have to divulge ur salary cos she’ll ask outrightly, except u wan lie about d matter. While waiting for NYSC, i saw an advert for a school accountant and tried my luck. Turns out the Director wanted a male and asked that i became the accounts teacher instead. Omo, wen my fellow teachers heard from God-knows-where that the new girl (me kuku small before) with no teaching experience and didnt go tru d rigorous interview for teachers e.g micro teaching n co, earned more than most, correct gbeghe burst o. Even my friends i told then started pegging me to every expenses like i earned more than the 32k i told dem about.
    Moral lesson; am sooo not telling nobody about my salary once i get a job (am searchin by the way. POP happened since july). Maybe mumsy sha, and dazall!!!

  29. ebun mide

    September 21, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Among my friends in same occupation, i tell them how Much i earn but my friends i earn other occupation i don’t before they start looking at you as boxed up. My first job, my parent were aware but wld not tell them before they start calculating what i do with my money or start making ridiculous demands

  30. Uche

    September 21, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    I went and told one guy who was a friend of a friend how much I earned and I became a loan shark. I don’t even tell my mum. I took out my remuneration page when showing my offer letter to my mum. She only saw my gross.

  31. luv this

    September 21, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    yup! will definitely not tell anyone but my husband as we both declare for financial planning…I told my folks when I got a job a few years ago how much I was offered and EVERYONE in the family found out…..recently got a new job and told mum and dad, dad asked for 2 suits so yup! no disclosure…when they ask, I say with respect that “I earn enough to help take care of you guys” peer dazzalll….they don’t need specifics abeg….even items of clothing when asked how much i just shine teeth abeg….we africans just can’t be declaring anyhow.

  32. Weezy

    September 21, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    I would tell a boyfriend/fiancee how much I earn, no question about that. Since I changed jobs, no one has asked me what I earn – my siblings have never asked, and my parents only asked once in my last job. I am afraid to disclose what I earn to my family because I do not want them to think I am swimming in money.

    Technically I am swimming in money as I make six figures in dollars. But I am saving a significant portion of it (30%) and also started a secret retirement fund for my parents that they do not know about. I send them some money, but it is about half of what I can truly afford to send because of the secret fund. Why do it that way? Because I am AFRAID of not having enough in the future to support them in the future. I’m kind of weird about money I guess.

  33. Puzzles

    September 21, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    Great article as usual, Atoke. Hehehe, all of you that are asking her how much uche pays her, una want make she lose her job?

    Do not be too harsh on spouses esp women who do not disclose their salary with their spouses. They are learning from the experience of others who are married to men who are aradites, who take undue advantage of their wives. I know of a man who refused to pay the rent or other expenses in the house because he knows his wife is earning more than him. I’m not bashing men but how many of them would be sincerely happy knowing that their wives are earning better?

    Even my own parents have advised against it. My dad till today has no idea how much mumsy earns and he said he never asked because he takes it as his responsibility to care for his family. For mum, it was because before marriage, her uncle who she was living with took advantage of her because he knew her salary. She could not even send money to her own mother because her uncle would collect ALL her salary (those days they give you ur pay in an envelope) and spend it all. He would only give her money for Tfare for one week. Imagine! She couldn’t protest because she grew up in his house.

    Some families too can be merciless. They would not rest until your salary is finished. And they are the same people who would insult u for not having investments.

    I don’t say how much i earn o. Jealousy and see finish might be the result. I can only give an idea to someone who is considering leaving his/her present job for one related to mine. Only my parents have seen my employment letter and with all sincerity, if my pay is increased, i’m not telling. It’s going into savings and investments.

    During courtship and marriage, i intend to observe my future hubby well before disclosing that info. I sincerely pray i marry someone who is trustworthy that i can tell everything without being afraid it would cause a problem.

  34. Asake

    September 22, 2015 at 3:50 am

    A couple of years ago, a friend stumbled on my offer letter and in the coming weeks our mutual friends were calling me chairlady. I remember joking with one on how I wanted a particular phone and couldn’t afford, he laughed an quoted a figure close to my salary. You start hearing things like what are you doing with your salary if you ever mention you cannot afford something while few people who offer savings or mortgage advice.

    A cousin of mine had invited me over to the state and he forwarded his payslip as part of documents to be submitted at the embassy, till date i haven’t taken a look at the figure, i guess it is not important to me. It doesn’t change anything

    Is it people that cannot honestly tell you where they got an outfit that will disclose their income? My sister, disclosure comes with its own baggage (entitlement and belonging) .

    Some organisations in Nigeria do not encourage disclosure of income just incase you earn more than someone else with better performance and equal experience. Thank God for salary band.

    I think disclosure in marriage is very important, it helps when planning household income, this will work out where mutual trust exist.

    I disclose my salary to my mom, some of my siblings and a close friend in my industry

  35. Tosin

    September 22, 2015 at 4:02 am

    aso ebi ko…
    i don’t tell, i don’t even look 🙂 nne/nna, we thank God for daily bread, and even monthly luxuries and yearly splurges. datsall.

  36. mia

    September 22, 2015 at 11:55 am

    full disclosure can be dangerous o. Nigerians and our see finish, sizing up and pocknosing attitude. i changed jobs three years ago and i told two of my friends whom we were working in the same office before. one of them left for another industry the year before and she never mentioned how much she earned to us o, only to be bothering me about my pay package. she even went as far as saying “i heard they pay una entry level N2— monthly, is that so?” i told her my offer letter didn’t carry the total package and that was the truth. everybody got married and changed locations afterwards. This last week, she was asking me if i has started driving just to know if i have bought a car. when i told her i’ve started driving for over a year now, she replied that i should chop my “company” well o.

    it’s just safe to keep it discreet, at least, know that we’re doing well. thatsall.

  37. Iyun

    September 23, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I once told a former colleague what I was earning naso the babe start to dey cry, told everyone that cared to listen that I earned more than her. Our M.D had to step in coz I was angry too. My mom and sis know how much I earn sha. A friend of mine doesn’t know how much I earn but she assumes its big bcoz she is always telling me to give her money, take her out etc. So telling people how much one earns is a bad idea.

  38. missjones

    September 26, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Even my mother doesn’t tell me how much she makes. The last time I asked her, she asked me if I wanted to pay her the money. But When I start making money, na she go first ask me o! I’m still a student sha n I tell some friends how much my allowance is but for some other people it is awfully uncomfortable, so I kill the topic with comments like, “nne, from where to where na?” It usually works!

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