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The Dis-Ease Of Doing Business In Nigeria

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NOTICE is hereby given that Miss MASELLINA ODOKO resident of Jikwoyi, Abuja is no longer in the employment of our companies, Purple Lace Fragrances/41 Luxe with immediate effect. She is not authorised to represent the companies in any matters whatsoever. Any person dealing with her does so at his/her own risk and responsibility.

There’s not a day that goes by that someone does not relate a story of how a worker in his or her employ has robbed and betrayed them. Sometimes these encounters can be stranger than fiction and it gets you wondering; what exactly is the problem-is it that our moral fabric has been completely eroded? Is it circumstantial? What would drive a person that you gave a chance to; one person less off the street to behave in such a way? I usually see pictures in the newspapers of companies sending in disclaimers of staff that had in 99.9 per cent of the situations, been caught stealing.

Someone told me to be grateful that she didn’t kill me since there is a growing trend. You can feel the pain in such a generic message. I never thought that one day I would be one such person. I am going to lend my voice to the (dis)ease of doing business in Nigeria in the aspect of vetting staff especially the unskilled labour before they are employed. It is important that the business community comes together and help each other in this aspect and raise some sort of resistance.

If workers, especially the roving unskilled ones; the ones that go door-to door seeking jobs, are to be employed, it is important to start demanding for references from these roving workers from their last places of employment including their addresses instead of relying on the stories of how wicked their previous employer was and how they suffered etc (this is of course without prejudice). Some standard needs to be brought into the space.

Secondly, no matter how long the process of employment will take, they must have guarantors-it is very important. It might not be a solution to human badness, cruelty and wickedness but it will surely be a mitigating factor and would save a business or two.

Thirdly, if you are working and running a business-you are working for the business and the business is running you. A business is like a relationship-to keep it alive your eyes must always be on the ball. In short, you cannot serve two masters.

She worked with my business for six years. I did not have a guarantor. I am not sure when she started stealing but I noticed something was off this year. She was unlettered and beat the internal control system that had been put in place by sheer cunning. To maintain my fragile sanity, I have refused to take a financial stock of how much she stole. She was stealing raw materials, diverting customers, shortchanging on the goods she purchased, making home deliveries and pocketing the sales.

“Customers really need to help businesses by demanding for receipts” She was going around convincing stores to give her goods on credit in my name. In the store, she was the second person to take ajor/adashe/contribution of a 10-month cycle as she ran, she had not paid her portion from June and her colleagues kept quiet and as the saying goes, “Ninety-nine days for the thief, one day for the owner” Her cup started pouring over. When concerns were raised because of low sales, she was always quick to blame the economy and lack of patronage. The truth was she would buy the goods and remove them from the shop so that the stock seemed like it was always there. My faults were many-I trusted and empowered her to work but she used the empowerment to empower herself.

From the interaction to get her to confess, it was clear she was sold to the Devil. She was hardened. She had claimed to have a shop and led us to a shop that ended up belonging to someone else-she was only a customer! We recovered mainly empty bottles of the raw materials from her house and goods. She was first taken to Wuse 2 market police station who said they had no jurisdiction. They handed her over to Wuse Zone 3 police station where she turned from being the accused to the complainant and was seeking for my arrest.

She was emboldened by her family and a police woman who was from her ‘place’. The police put her, her family and other staff without a policeman and directed them to the Utako Police station to lay her complaint!! We diverted the taxi to Maitama, where the staff were rescued (they were to be used as hostages) and the family of the girl in Rambo fashion whisked her away. What goes around, comes around. In January she will be on the streets of Abuja looking for work.





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