It is not uncommon to read about teachers in Nigeria, who abandon their duty posts or report late, because of poor salaries, delay in the payment of salaries or poor working conditions, which are some of the manifestations of the neglect that they suffer.
But the case of Abia-born Obiageli Mazi is different. It shows that in this seeming state of non-challenge about dedication to duties, Obiageli Mazi personally committed to and developed a winning attitude towards her job as a teacher and she won.
According to her, she vowed to give her best to her pupils and made a covenant with God to do her work with dedication and sincerity until the time she will retire from service. So, although she was on a monthly salary of N35, 000 after 31 years of service; Obiageli Mazi is reputed for dignity and responsibility, which are some of the core values of great teachers as they are role models for their pupils and students.
Obviously, she developed a positive attitude towards her work, which was a determinant of how well she has been doing her work to deliver on, and surpass the expectations of all and sundry in her 31 years of service. So, it is in her character to be responsible and punctual.
On the contrary, the alternative social actors who have a negative attitudes towards their jobs; and want wealth without work, moonlight, abandon their duty posts or come late to work, particularly when they know that they are not monitored would have none of that.
As such, Obiageli Mazi’s dedication to duty is exemplary. And that was the ‘oil in her lamp that kept her burning’ for 31 years in Borno State Civil Service as a teacher, until the bridegroom of Borno State, Governor Babagana Zulum; in what appears to be a spot check, about 6:30 am on January 7, found her at work at the Shehu Sanda Kyarimi Primary and Secondary School in Maiduguri. The governor was impressed by her dedication to duty; and as a result, he rewarded her with a cash donation and a promotion to the position of Assistant Headmistress.
This is heartwarming and a change for good in a country where teachers hardly make honours list in terms of recognition and reward. As a matter of fact, many people despise the teaching profession because of the aphorism that ‘a teacher’s reward is in heaven.’ The case of Obiageli Mazi has shown that ‘a teacher’s reward can be on earth’ too.
Again, in a country where ethnicity, religion and other sentiments have placed mediocrity above merit, Governor Zulum has shown that merit cannot be perpetually thrown into the dustbin and that Nigerians can self-actualise in any part of the country. He demonstrated that there are Nigerian leaders who are detribalised and uphold honesty as the best policy in human capital management. What is the lesson here for leaders at all levels? As a nation, we can conquer mediocrity and enthrone merit. Also, the Governor of Borno State has shown that there is power in the hands of Nigerians to make a change, and the saviour of Nigeria is among Nigerians, after all.
The key lesson from the governor’s act is that there is reward in dedication to duty; and it is good to have values, develop a positive attitude to your work and be passionate about what one does for a living. Hence, rewarding Obiageli Mazi is expected will spur many responsible and dedicated workers to continue in that trajectory, which hopefully will bring sustainable development in Nigeria.
As for Obiageli Mazi, the change in fortune was not given, but earned because she has a long-held tradition of punctuality; and therefore, well deserved. Hence, we must develop a winning attitude in the discharged of our duties and must be committed to a better Nigeria.