5 Reasons Why Nigerians Find it Hard to Disclose Their Income
this time last year, I was relocating back to Nigeria, having been
offered a job. The next phase of the recruitment process was negotiating
my salary. It was during this process that I realised that being
successful at an interview was just as important as negotiating a fair
salary for the job you are being offered. This part of the process (i.e.
salary negotiation) can somewhat become a tad difficult, especially if
you are clueless about the dynamics of the Nigeria labour market.
say this because at the time, I was coming from a country where you got
paid based on the fixed salary structure that was put in the initial
job advertisement for the position you have been shortlisted for. In
Nigeria, most job opportunities tell you to put in your salary
expectations. Hence, you are left in a state of confusion as you try to
figure out what to ask for without you being perceived as arrogant,
shrewd or unrealistic.
The realisation that Nigerians generally
do not like to disclose their salary (even if it is for a similar role
in the same organisation or sector) still beats my comprehension. You
would ask (in good faith I might add) how much a person makes on the job
that you are considering applying for, and people just keep going
around in circles or dropping hints and bits of information. They make
it look like they are answering your question, but they are vague enough
for you to get the drift that you are better off coming up with your
own salary expectations.
The default response I got (and still
get) when I ask trusted colleagues or friends about the salary for a
position, usually leaves me confused rather than confident of what I
should be asking for. It is also not helpful to people who are planning
to relocate back to the country.
In my quest to understand why
Nigerians are particularly dismissive when it comes to disclosing their
salary, people I spoke to attributed this behaviour to the reasons
Living a Double Standard Life
So, I have been
told that keeping one’s mouth shut when it comes to your earnings is the
beginning of wisdom in Nigeria – especially if you live a double life.
That is if you are a student/professional by day and an
aristo/love-vendor/escort by night.
activities often come with maintaining a certain lifestyle which could
make people easily suspicious when they realise that your pay cheque
doesn’t justify your lifestyle.
A status quo thing
gathered that people would also let you assume they make more than you
think, and would live above their means (just to prove this point) in
order for them to be seen as a ‘big-class chic/babe’. So, they live in
houses they can’t afford, drive cars that are on lease or wear the
latest designer clothes… just to cling to this status quo and live in
the false affluent world that they have created for themselves.
Fear of being ‘jazzed’
is a Yoruba proverb that says ‘ti isu eni ba ta, a a dowo bo je ni’.
Translation: If one’s yam is well-formed, it should be consumed under
wraps. Meaning, sharing your news of prosperity can turn your good
fortune to bad luck. I actually didn’t think people still believed this
sort of ideology, until a millennial shared with me how she was advised
by an older colleague not to tell anyone how much she makes –
could make her an easy target for witches and wizards. In light of
ongoing events in the country, I think the senior colleague may just be
Fear of being perceived as ‘too rich’
perception with the principle of giving, and you sort of becoming the
person everyone comes to for help. Not that I am saying you shouldn’t
give to a worthy cause or lend a helping hand financially if you have
the means to do so. However, bear in mind that you may be called too
many times to make more contribution or become the go-to-lender within
your family or social network if this perception sticks. It gets harder
if you are the type who can’t say ‘No’ and often times, saying ‘No’ may
be construed as you being arrogant.
Employees benchmarking salaries
why do employers like to benchmark the salary they think you are worth,
with where you are coming from? I don’t ‘gerrit’! As a result, people
are not too confident to disclose their salary due to the fear that
future employers could use it against them. So we do all we can to hype
and increase our pay cheque, until we are asked to bring our last
payslip (which I personally think is too invasive of my financial
Have you ever found yourself in this kind of dilemma?
What other reasons do you think could be responsible for this
tight-lipped behaviour especially among millennials? Please share your
experience in the comment section.
BY Lola Gani-Yusuf