The Nigerian Work-chop Mentality

Na where person dey work im dey chop

This is a popular pidgin quote in Nigeria which means “where you work that’s where you eat from”, nowadays eat has been used to refer to legally or illegally. To the outside world it could mean the salary, wages, pension and any other benefits attached to a job. It could also mean that you should do your job well enough so you can advance in your career and earn more.

To Nigerians, it is the extra things in between — the salary and some more. Whoever or wherever the saying originated, they probably thought it was something to play around with. They never knew it would morph to be a fanatically practiced system in the country believed to be the saviour.

Man must “wak”

The sales girl/boy believes it that’s why he would run down his Oga’s shop in his bid to chop.

The pastor believes it that’s why you must sow a seed before prayers and come for thanksgiving after prayers.

The corrupt politician believes it, that’s why he feels entitled to public funds.

The civil servant believes it that’s why you walk into a government establishment and pay for stamp, paper, pen, signing and also pay the damn worker to actually do his job.

They call it Work-chop

The work-chop syndrome has been systematically ingrained into the average Nigerian. Tips, bribes, gifts and choppings are not expected. They are demanded.

The police for example expects every commercial driver to drop 50 naira at every check point and when you have a need for the police service you buy fuel for their vehicle and pen for their desk. That is just the police.

Naira — the currency used in Nigeria

This perverseness has invaded even the highest offices in the land. It is not a poor people ‘thing’. It is baffling that someone earning thousands and millions of Naira will be interested in little change and bribes. You hear top officials ask:

“Have you seen my boy?”

Anyone not actively participating in this work-chop practice is seen as the enemy or a learner.

The worst part is, the money is never enough. You’ll hear these same individuals in churches screaming for financial breakthrough, yet in their offices and duty posts, chop money keeps exchanging hands. And what do we have to show for this money illegally moving? More than half the population do not own a car or a personal house. We are even declared third world country, yet in every street corner, chop money is passed.

Where is this money going to?