Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In Nigeria, everything is Now or Never.

Dear Readers,

I am now 2 months into my consulting work in Nigeria. I've learned a lot in that time and I'm pleased to say that my project is on track.

I also am pleased to note that the more difficult things I encounter, the more determined I am to overcome them. It is very good to learn these things about oneself.

I have limits, just like any other creature on this earth, but thanks to my supportive loved ones and my Buddhist practice, I've risen above and am ever more resolved to live by my principles.

One thing I've learned about doing business in Nigeria is that everything is now or never. If someone shows up to fix something in your home or office, they won't call ahead, they'll just show up. If you are on your way out of the door, they'll insist on doing whatever it is right now, and there's no opportunity to reschedule to a time that is convenient.

The same thing goes for official meetings with VIPs. If there's an opening in time, you have to jump on it, go as fast as you can to it, and if you delay, you'll miss it. Yes, there is an official appointment schedule, but its very challenging to be on it, and its not the way to get the meetings you need.

Nigeria is Now or Never. It's all about seizing the window of opportunity. It can't be good on the blood pressure. :)



  1. From a Reader:

    It is like this in much of the developing world. If you make an appointment for someone to meet you, they ill often arrive late and you are expected to wait for them, while if you go somewhere you had better be exactly on time or 5 minutes early! Many refuse to conduct business on the phone.. I must meet them in person. they may be agreeable on the phone, but nothing will be done.

    I have never figured out whether locals all do that to each other or whether it is their attitude toward doing business with foreigners...

    I fear it may be the latter.

  2. I think that people behave this way if you let them. I don't know which system is better or worse.

  3. Hallo alena; I followed ur link from the "Abuja expats" group.
    Personally, I think 2 months is really too short a time for anyone to understand fully the Nigerian situation culturally or even grasp the sociological makeup of this great people... I was born here over 40 years ago and as a Nigerian, I am still learning and adjusting everyday...
    It is said that "when in Rome, you do as the Romans"! My humble advice would be to continually communicate with your Nigerian colleagues who will gladly put you thru the basic do's and dont's of the Nigerian society.
    For example you would have been told that culturally nobody calls you up ahead to fix something or even visit...
    Or taught about this notion of "African Time" which is a peculiarity that most people on the continent have learnt to live with and work round...

    @the reader above: for your own safety & well-being, I would advise you against conducting any important business on the phone with "faceless individuals"...