He grants the appointments but dehumanizes the guests who are left without a word. Still, they wait. Their patience never exhausted!
A typical successful Nigerian in business, politics, religious leadership and other spheres of influence have not to single regard for the time of people they ask to meet at home or in the office on appointment. This is one of the few areas where Nigerian elites irrespective of educational background, religious beliefs or other persuasions act in complete cohesion.
Appointments with rich and connected Nigerians, particularly with people considered beneath their social status always turn out the same way. You get an appointment to see him by 10:00 am and by 9:30 am, you are already at the venue or somewhere nearby, but by 2 pm, you are still waiting to see him. Sometimes, an appointment slated by 5 pm surreptitiously extends to 1 am the next morning. Worst still, many of these appointments never, ever get to happen no matter how long the guest waits. Litanies of these stories dot the nooks and crannies of our daily lives and it has now been normalized. Nigerians now prepare ahead to spend long hours waiting to be called in for an appointment that was previously booked and confirmed.
The fact, however, is that for most of us, the big man is always right essentially because he is always needed or begged for one favour or another, so he is not to be offended. He is always asked for one help or another and he needs time to make more money. These are some of the excuses put up in their defense, by those who are unable to honour the appointments they had, with them on time. It is a deeply funny and sad sight. Usually, some of these “guests” do not even expect anything more than a small token to be handed to a domestic servant or an aide to handover to them after they have waited for long and are tired, but still cannot just go. One thing stands out, the value placed on another’s time is directly proportional to the value placed on that person, at least, this is it, for the most part.
It is a scenario that is both comical and incredulously outrageous.
What I am saying is that when someone makes or accepts an appointment for a particular time and does not reasonably attempt to ask for more time or make an excuse for lateness, there is no better evidence that the person coming for the visit has nothing much to offer to the one being visited, at least by the host’s estimation. To confirm this, many of these wealthy men purposely keep their invited but unwanted guests waiting for long hours to know if they can be provoked to go home, but usually, they are never provoked. Again by not being provoked, they demonstrate that they live solely at the mercy of the man and have no use of their time except as the man may wish to dictate. It is a scenario that is both comical and incredulously outrageous.
Time is anyone’s greatest asset and Nigerian big men know this. So if they can invite you for a meeting and you come and spend long hours waiting without a single word from them or their handlers on the status of your appointment, it simply speaks to the fact that you have no need or value for your time and true, many Nigerians do not. Well, the level of poverty and deprivation ravaging the country has cleaned out the sense of dignity of most Nigerians so much so that they do not even know when they are abused or simply not needed. They are simply desperate and for a desperate man, there is no dignity. They just want to have some of the good things the big man may have to give.
He sees these people as a burden that he would have otherwise avoided
It is a most abusive relationship where the big man is seen not as a human being, but as solely living to solve people’s problems and meet their needs. In fact, literally seen as money with which problems can be solved. Fair enough, on his side, he sees these people as a burden that he would have otherwise avoided and banned from ever seeing him but reconsiders because of his social standing and possible fear of what people will say if he takes such drastic action. Therefore, he grants the appointments but dehumanizes the guests who are left without a word, to wait for almost eternity. Still, they wait. Their patience never exhausted!
Yet, for the same big man, the situation is different if the guest is making any form of positive contribution to his growth in any way imaginable. No guest adding any value to any man is kept to wait for long hours, without a word from the host. In fact, such guests, do not usually need an invitation to come to visit. Yet again, the irony of life is that the same big man or woman has people that are not in their social class, who are free to visit at any time because they are not a burden to him or her.
Naturally, people tend to gravitate towards those who are not an encumbrance to them, those who add to them and not extract from them. Even those who extract but at least adds something to them stand the chance of being dignified.
There is still no justification for not honouring an appointment fixed by one, on time and not bothering to offer some explanations or an apology whatsoever. Perhaps, the time wasted by guests abandoned by hosts in their waiting rooms is not as precious.
Maybe they really have nothing else to do with their time or they would have invested their time otherwise. Whatever the case is, those kept in perpetuity waiting without a word from their host, may be comfortable with it and maybe that is why Nigerian big men have no regard for your time.
♦ Ebuka Onyekwelu, strategic governance exponent, is a columnist with the WAP
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