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How to thrive as a Nigerian: A practical, comprehensive guide

How to thrive as a Nigerian: A practical, comprehensive guide

By: Aniebiet Effiong

What a time to be a Nigerian!

The leaders are hitting the ground running. A time when we know when it is our turn and will have it no other way. A time when the poor is finally allowed to breathe. No more suffocation. The poor are breathing the fresh air of fuel subsidy removal, which has reduced food prices and transport fares and will, in turn, make them grow healthier and live longer. We live in a time when the administration is favouring us and our families. Amen?

This short work is written as a guide for Nigerians who may have forgotten how to go about their various duties or how to live in Nigeria. The country is changing rapidly and it is important to remind ourselves of certain cardinal principles.

For instance, being an oga, you should never attend a meeting, occasion, or event early. It will only create an impression of you being jobless and desperate. People will begin to take you for granted and some may even address you without adding Most Distinguished, His Excellency, Chief, Right Honourable, Prof, to your name. Not after tussling and hustling to acquire those titles should one fool forget to address you properly just because you made the mistake of arriving early. How disrespectful! God forbid! 

Nigerians take a big man’s earliness to events or meetings for granted. This will never be your portion. Amen! They should be in anticipation of your arrival. You become more prominent and noticeable when you walk in late. It is more honourable to walk in when all are seated. If it is an event where the MC knows their onions, you could even be given a standing ovation when you arrive. Who knows?

Nigeria as a society is one that has freed itself from all forms of corrupt practices due to the openness, fairness, and transparency of the leaders. And you know, when the leaders are good, the followers follow the same path. We are a good people of a good nation. 

What do you do with a bottle of water?

What you do with a bottle of water says a lot about you. To buy a bottle of water or to be given during an event — or however you acquire it — is a noble and uncommon thing, which can only be rivalled by being given an expensive wine. 

It is one thing to have a bottle of water and another thing to know how to be honourable with it. If you make any silly attempt to consume the water and dispose of the plastic quickly, then you have lost it all. You lose part of the money used in buying and that is economic wastage. You lose your integrity as a human. You lose respect and self-confidence. 

Nigerians will accord you some respect when you go about with your bottle, sipping the water in bits. Never be in a hurry to drink everything at once, no matter how thirsty you are. When you are about to talk to a friend, open up and have a sip. Make sure there’s always at least a quarter of the contents left, at which point you can drop it inside your car. That is more honourable. 

The only form of water you should consume quickly is sachet water. When you’re done, throw the sachet anywhere; a gutter is preferable, where it can possibly block the drainage and even cause flooding.

The beauty of a cleaning job

Being a cleaner in Nigeria is a beautiful and unforgettable experience one shouldn’t miss. You can work as a cleaner in plenty of places. It’s not like these places are dirty at all. It’s just one of those job opportunities we have in Nigeria. Hence the reason unemployment is at a minimal rate. Statistics can prove this.

As a cleaner in a place like a bank, it shouldn’t have to be included in your job description that your work is more than cleaning banking halls and offices before you know it. If your job is only to keep the place clean, who then will that cashier or manager send on errands? To drop some documents on a fellow colleague’s table for signature or endorsement or whatever. To help him or her get a photocopy from the copier. To buy snacks or food outside the banking vicinity. Who will do these things? 

This is just the beauty of being a cleaner in an office or bank. You become so versatile. Hurray!

The ministry must move

The good Lord has blessed you with some good voice. It is left to you to use it well. You can charge millions per invitation. After all, the gift of a man makes way for him. This is your own way. A way of wealth! You are a famous minister. A big name. The way you will be introduced or called to the stage will show you this. Once you’re invited to the stage to minister, there are things you must not skip, or else you deprive people of blessings.

Tell the expectant congregation to walk to five people and say, ‘Neighbour, today is going to be great.’ Just find something motivating and say it again. Coin something. Tell them again to walk to 20 people and say something, “Neighbour shift for me.”

“Neighbour, today is your turn.”

“Neighbour, are you ready?”

Note: the ‘neighbour’ is very important. If you like, you can tell them to walk up to 50 people to act on your instruction. They will do whatever you say. Are they tired? That’s none of your business. You’re a guest minister. They need this divine exercise for stability and blessings. Anyone who complains or sits through the exercise must be evil. 

The benevolence of a master/mistress

It is by special grace that you are a boss with numerous apprentices learning a vocation under you. Here are a few tips for you to follow.

The first thing you must never ever neglect doing once you admit a new apprentice is giving him or her a list of things to bring once he’s done with the huge vocational training payment. The list should include things like crates of soft drinks, a bottle of wine, packs of biscuits, and other stuff you haven’t eaten before in your entire life. The moment they fail to bring these things, it means they are not ready to learn. It’s a tradition one must follow to be able to learn effectively. One does not omit this ritual and end up with mastery of what was taught. It is one thing developed places are missing out on. 

On the issue of punctuality, your apprentice must never be a minute late to work. Forget the fact that they paid money to learn from you. The day they come late (even by a tiny bit), then they have signed up for hell. There’s only one befitting punishment and that is kneeling by the roadside with two hands lifted to the sky. Please, I beg you, in the name of whatever you worship, do not skip making them kneel by the roadside to avoid you losing your position as the boss. I repeat: if they do not kneel on the road, then you are finished as the master. 

Make the place they kneel very strategic such that they can be easily seen by everything that passes by. This should be done dispassionately regardless of the weather. Under a scorching sun or in the rain would be preferable. It shall never be well with those who say you are a mean or wicked person. Even if you are, how is it their business? People don’t mind their business.

Tested template for university students

To be a student of a Nigerian public university is something exquisite. Little wonder the Whites find it more appropriate to send their kids to come study in Nigeria. In our public varsities, we have fewer strikes and more studies. When you hear them refer to us as giants of Africa, this is it. Soon we will be referred to as giants of the world. 

As a student, when school reopens for another semester or session, do not resume quickly. It’s a sign of being too serious and you know anything done at the extreme is not good. Give yourself two to three weeks before resumption. The lecturers will understand. Any lecturer that wants to teach should go ahead and do so. The culture stands. Any lecturer who begins lectures when you haven’t resumed is mean and will never make heaven.

When the results are out and your colleague or anyone asks for your grade. There are different answers for different grades:

A – B: “I had A” or “I had B of 69” (smile a little). Please be very confident in saying this. 

C – F: “They gave me …” Make it look like it’s what you were given and not what you merited. With this format, you will get sympathetic words like, ‘eya … sorry, some lecturers enh!’ 

It is very typical of lecturers. They do everything to sabotage your efforts and even try to waste your sleeping night. (Sorry for the typo, I meant to say sleepless nights.)

Nonetheless, if you’re into school politics and you’re vying for a position in, let’s say, the Student Union, then your loyalty must be in absolutes. You can even crawl on the floor to exhibit your loyalty to every student. You can always say things like, 

‘Your boy is loyal!’

‘Your boy dey o!’

Nigerians love the humility of aspirants during the electioneering period. Haven’t you studied how Nigerian politicians win elections? How they stoop to eat corn with commoners on the road. How they walk into markets to make friends with traders. How they drink cassava flakes with people and even mingle with children in schools. 

Please walk around the school compound begging for votes through any means. Make them understand you are going there to protect the interest of the students and the school. Nigerians love promises. You know how Nigerians were promised fuel pump price to be forty naira per litre and it came to fruition? 

When you win, make sure you vanish from their sight. Nigerian students and the way they think sometimes baffles me. God will judge anyone who thinks you should still be accessible to people anyhow after your emergence as the SUG President. That is not the template of Nigerian politics and leadership. Everything has its template. 

The moment you allow yourself to be seen anyhow, then you have violated the Nigerian political standards. Nigerians don’t love to see their leaders at random. They love seeing them in convoys so they can smile sheepishly and wave their hands at the tinted cars as they blare their sirens. As a president, You will be given a car. This is how ephemeral humility pays.

The hard job of a university lecturer

There are different kinds of lecturers on campuses. I’d strongly advise you to be highly selective about the kind you become to avoid what Nigerians call ‘see finish’ from students. Here’s my kind of lecturer. The kind who is boastful and tough. (As a man, you shouldn’t be too tough on female students, especially those with gracious physiques who occasionally visit your office to say hi.)

Your attendance in class should be minimal. Be rare and scarce. You are an external examiner to so many universities. Your schedule is always filled. As a Prof, you should have pressing issues to attend to and not these irresponsible students. Remember, in your time, what you did was go to national libraries to read. 

Go for classes towards the exams period and do whatever you want. Make these students know how tough you are. Make references and tell them to go ask their senior colleagues how you were. You are a no-nonsense man. Endeavour to observe when class attendance is low so that you can give a test. To be a lecturer is not child’s play. 

Serving the country as a police officer

In a country where people are toxic, troublesome, unforgiving and full of hatred, you are obliged to make unlawful detentions. Sorry, I meant lawful arrests. Or whatever. There must be an arrest. This will deter terrorists from their heinous crimes. It will curb heartbreaks and divorces. It will stop electoral malpractices. People will fear you. You can be paid to arrest a neighbour for doing nothing wrong. If money is involved, then nothing is bad about it.

Sometimes, the commissioner may post you on highways to check vehicles and maintain order. Exploit that opportunity to make your own proceeds. Imagine searching the trunk of a vehicle and asking oga to ‘find something for boys’ (whether you find anything incriminating or not) and do this fifty times a day. Imagine the money you and your colleagues would make. You can raise something tantamount to your salary on a daily basis.

If you are urgently called to a crime scene, I beg you, in the name of your wife and children at home, delay a little. Not all crime scenes need prompt intervention. You can arrive after the criminals may have gone. Make sure you use the siren to inform the criminals of your arrival in case they had yet to leave the scene. The national anthem and pledge should only end on your lips and not make your children fatherless or your wife a widow. Forget about Nigerians who criticise you. Nigerians and their misgivings about the police. God will judge those who judge the Police despite knowing that the Police is their friend.

Nonetheless, You see those boys in dreadlocks and ripped jeans, they are Nigeria’s main problem. They are the cause of Nigeria’s incontrollable insecurity, inflation, and poverty. They are a major distraction to the federal government. Arrest them whenever the opportunity shows up. Properly scrutinise their phones. Harass them if you want to. 

Everyone driver on dreadlocks, beards, and ripped Jean trousers are suspects and threats. I sincerely sympathise with the future of Nigeria if you do not make this very crucial arrest. Shame on those Oyinbo people who try to mislead some Nigerians that one can go on dreadlocks and be a Pastor. Irreligious people should never make a quest to blindfold a full-blown religious people who talk to their God every week.

Note: If upon your search you find anything incriminating and he decides to find you small joy, please accept and free him. That is not any form of bribery. It is called mercy-showing. He only paid for his sins and you showed him mercy. Have more mercy on those who squeeze something legal and tender into your hand, smiling. Intelligent officer like you. Officer! Officer!


This work is required of every Nigerian as a tool to guide them on what they do and how they go about their daily routine. It exposes one to the insight that, as a Nigerian, you are born into so many areas of comparative advantage over your contemporaries overseas. It would be rather unfair to your heritage and personality to stay in Nigeria and behave as a British. As the saying goes, when You’re in Rome, act like a Roman. You should be Nigerian in all walks of life. 

I, therefore, recommend this work to everyone who is in Nigeria and those intending to come over. Even those taxi drivers at parks should own a copy of this paper. As a taxi driver loading a bus, for example, you must never make the mistake of letting people know there are still many vacant passenger seats. Scream ‘one chance … enter make we go’ at the top of your voice. Try as much as possible to make it look like only one space is left. Before you realise it, your vehicle will be filled to the glory of God. 

This is a pattern that has thrived over the years. Nigerians love hope. Nigerians are hopeful and hope-filled. You should take a cue from all the ‘Amen’ they comment on Facebook posts of prophecies of financial blessings from accounts of pseudo-Pastors. 


Effiong, Aniebiet. Experience as a Nigerian, 2023.

Aniebiet Effiong is a Nigerian writer whose works have appeared in several publications.  An embodiment of Elnathan John and Romeo Oriogun, he’s a satirist to the core and a poet. Author of the poetry chapbook Body of a Boy: A Compendium of Grief and Sorrow. Soon to bag his B.A Hons from the Department of Philosophy, University of Uyo. A future Professor. A major petroleum and oil marketer. If you handed him a mouthwatering appointment, it wouldn’t be bad.  You can reach him via WhatsApp: 08075475241. Facebook: Aniebiet Effiong.

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