By Muyiwa Adetiba
We all have a reason for doing what we do. Otherwise the gruelling hours and the discipline that we have to put into our jobs would be pointless. Most of us spend incredibly long hours at what we do. First, there is the period for the acquisition of knowledge, formal and informal; then there is the period for apprenticeship before we can become ‘masters of the trade’. Yet, despite the investments that have been made to get to where they are, many hate their jobs.
Some, because of lack of quality time and the fact that it disconnects them from loved ones. Some, because they have to lick often smelly asses of employers; of clients. Many, in fact, disproportionate figure, because of poor pay.
Many also love their jobs. Again for a variety of reasons. The boss is nice, the environment is conducive, the job is exciting, the co-workers are friendly. And yes, the pay is good.
It usually comes down to pay. It is the reason many endure the insults at work. To be able to put food on the table and meet your pressing financial needs compensates somewhat, for the grimace of having to get up early in the morning. And to see your little daughter smile because you are able to buy that cute little dress or Christmas toy, is priceless.
Tied to this is often the issue of job security. The saying that a rolling stone gathers no moss is like a holy grail to many people. These people would rather endure the monotony, the insults and poor pay if the pay check came regularly at the end of the month.
But those who really, really enjoy their jobs fall into two groups. Those who are passionate about what they do and those who believe they are offering service. In the former group are creative people and entrepreneurs while the latter group is largely populated by professionals. These two groups are driven and they use this drive to surmount seemingly impossible obstacles.
I consider myself one of the few who actually love what they do. I love writing; I love interviewing people; I love reading good scripts. In fact, nothing makes my day more than reading a well crafted article especially from an unknown writer. I even love the process of disseminating news and the instant judgments that are often made in the newsroom. I also found, very early, that the irregular working hours suited my temperament.
But it hasn’t been without its adjustment. And the main adjustment for me was the realisation very early, that journalists don’t have special days like Christmas or Easter. And that you have to take your fun along with your job because you are always on call. It is a jealous profession; often lonely, often demanding.
Often, it means putting your job ahead of other indulgences and obligations including family. A clear example of this shifting of paradigm was a Christmas eve in the seventies. It was my first Christmas as a journalist. We were all ensconced in the confines of the Punch premises at the Onipetesi village. Time sped. Dusk came and went. The dark light of the evening had settled in when a tired little me entered the car of my very tired Editor.
We had driven past the airport into Agege motor road when I heard the firework. I had completely forgotten that Christmas was just a few hours away. I turned to my Editor and said ‘Editor, its Christmas. There has to be a better job than this.’ He just looked at me and said ‘Yeah. When you find it let me know.’ Yet in many ways and for many years, I still considered my job to be the best in the world.
Not many outside my profession would agree. In fact, many within the profession would wonder what the hell I am talking about; what with the pay and the uncertainty of a steady job. If the jury was to be out in Nigeria, an overwhelming majority would choose politics to be the best job. The reason is obvious. No job catapults you from poverty to riches like politics in Nigeria. And for doing little or nothing.
I have seen a councillor own several houses. I have seen a local government chairman own several hotels. Someone I know has over 25 houses from serving a term each in the State and Federal Houses. I have seen the swagger of those who have no jobs outside of politics. All over the world, people seek power in order to propagate ideas and influence the society. Many in fact, actually take a pay cut and suffer a drop in their standard of living in order to serve.
Not in Nigeria. I stand to be corrected, but I do not think there is Governor or Senator who leaves office poorer than he went in unlike what obtains in many other democracies in the world. Many politicians in Nigeria are simply economic parasites; especially in these harsh economic times. They are exemplified by the fat cows in the National Assembly.
In the past hundred days of this new dispensation, they have done nothing to add value to the country. Yet, according to some reports, they have shared a whopping 13 billion naira till date. None, including past and present APC progressives, has been able to tell us what their take home pay is exactly. The reason is simple; even they, are embarrassed. They claim to have reduced their annual appropriation to 120 billion naira from 150 billion naira.
We are supposed to clap for them are we? Why should 470 law makers be given an amount that is more than what some States who have millions to feed are given? And what are they doing with almost five thousand civil servants?
David Mark’s eight year watch witnessed an unprecedented hike in the allocation to the National Assembly. This is a man whose State of over four million people struggles to get anything near 150 billion naira as allocation. Yet his State has one of the highest unemployed youths.
But then he has an antecedent. He is a man who believes the poor have no right to anything good. To earn approximately 100 million a year for a roughly 100 days’ work reads like a million a day. David Mark and his fellow travellers surely have the best job in the world.