The SIKIRA Syndrome


Meet SIKIRA. She’s a lady in her late twenties who sells food beside our office. She used to sell only drinks and biscuits until many people in the neighborhood convinced her to open a canteen and start selling cooked food. I was one of those that told her she could make money selling food after she provided lunch for some of our elophotos academy students 3 years ago.

Apart from the fact that her food was outstanding, her personality was even more attractive. She was kind, courteous, and extremely friendly. And those traits seemed like the right ingredients that will go with someone selling food. Considering the fact that her “food” competitors lacked customer service, she was destined to stand out if she ventured in the business. Or so I thought.

Few weeks into the food business, I realized that a spirit had possessed Sikira. All of a sudden, she started insulting customers that came to buy food from her and her customer-service oriented nature went on a looooooooong vacation. She would frown at customers, shout at them, and with the support of her mother in the business, she’ll even tell some customers to carry their business elsewhere.

The interesting thing I discovered was that the more she insulted people – some of whom are her father’s age mate – the more customers kept coming to buy food from her. They kept coming for ONE reason: her food was delicious. So tasty was her delicacies that the thought of having her as my personal cook crossed my mind. I was surprised that people kept coming to buy from her despite the fact that she didn’t treat them with the utmost respect. But then again, I realized that a lot of us in this part of the world are “used” to being insulted and abused. Just look at the multitude of organizations in Nigeria with terrible customer service and you’ll wonder why they remain in business. MTN and Aero contractors will top my list of companies that fall in that category. Guaranty Trust Bank might eventually join the list if they don’t return my N20k that was swallowed by an ATM machine over 6 months ago.

It occurred to me that this was a BIG business opportunity. If someone that could provide the same service or product and simultaneously treat customers right, the sky is just the starting point of the profit potential.

Bringing the scenario back into the photography business. There are many photographers that have been in business only because the people that patronize them like the “products” that have been served them. The customer service however is another story. Our ultimate goal as photographers & business men (& women) who want to remain relevant in the industry for years to come – regardless of the introduction of new technology – is to build systems that are devoid of the SIKIRA SYNDROME. If we can achieve that, we might eventually not have to spend as much money in trying to advertise our products & services: our clients will become our BIGGEST & most effective marketers.

Until we get new companies that can provide the same quality of products and services that are offered by Sikira & MTN, we might just be stuck with them in the meantime. Eventually when a new food vendor with great customer service and delicious food (a combination that I’m confident is a possibility) arrives in our neighborhood, my colleagues and I have little or no option but to keep patronizing her.

Until then, I will do my best to make sure that the SIKIRA SYNDROME does not possess us at eloPhotos.
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Plan to take a photography course at eloPhotos Academy. Visit eloPhotos Academy for a detailed list of options of classes to take. It will be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness

Discovering the Customer-Service at DiscoveryAir


A few weeks ago, a colleague of mine recommended that I try out an airline that opened for business in June. He was so impressed with the customer-service that was extended to him during his trip to Abuja that he demanded that I give them a try.

I eventually flew with them and discovered that although they were not flying with BRAND NEW planes, the customer service I got made me feel BRAND NEW. No, this isn’t a paid advert by the company. I just thought that people out there – especially those that fly with companies like Aero-contractors who have repeatedly proven that they can treat customers anyhow – should know that they have a new option when it comes to traveling by air.

I wasn’t surprised when I checked to see that the flight was almost filled. And it wasn’t filled with people that were traveling by air for the very first time. I’m guessing that customers of other airlines decided to try DiscoverAir and see if they will get a better experience from what they were used to.

A better experience I eventually got. I even had to take a picture of the food pack just so that I can have enough evidence against them the day they decide to “reduce” the contents of the meal they give customers on board.

The last time I got such customer service was when I visited Transcorp Hilton Hotel (Abuja) in 2007. If they keep it up, I sense that one or two airlines that we’re all familiar with will eventually close business. I think you should try it out and feel free to drop you comments here if you were treated well or not. Just check them out at discoverair.com.ng and do let me know what your experience was like.


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Plan to take a photography course at eloPhotos Academy. Visit eloPhotos Academy for a detailed list of options of classes to take. It will be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness

The HARVARD Client


To be upfront, this will be one of the most difficult writeup I will put up because its an account I had with a client who happens to be one who “might” sue me. But then again, I’m not mentioning anyone’s names and there shouldn’t be any cause for a lawsuit….just that he might not hire me again. Either way, I strongly believe there’s a lesson or two to be learnt herein. Anyways, here goes nothing.

A few years ago, I was privileged to have worked with a client that would eventually go down in my books as one of the “most interesting clients ever”. I met him during an exhibition I had in Transcorp Hilton Hotel (Abuja) in 2008. He would eventually hire me to cover a ceremony in his hometown during which he’ll be given a chieftancy title by the king of the town.

It was supposed to be a 4-6 hour event in which he was to pay N200k for a standard album. I drafted an agreement that required him to make a deposit of 50% of the total fee before I flew to his hometown for the coverage. The main day finally arrived and after a bunch of seemingly legitimate reasons why he had not made the deposit, I decided to take a risk and pay for the flight from my own pocket.

Upon arriving at my airport destination, I headed straight to my clients’ house and met him in full preparation for the event. I stylishly asked for the deposit and was abruptly reprimanded for coming across as someone who liked money too much. “Can’t you see that I’m busy….I’ll get you the deposit once I’m free”. Being the optimistic person that I am, I chose to take him by his word.

10 hours later after the event was over, I was faced with the challenge of making the same presentation. This time around the reason that was given was that he was too tired after a tedious chieftancy ceremony to address mundane financial matters like mine. I would eventually withdraw back to the room he had lodged me in the “boys quarters” behind his mansion.

That night, I would eventually make friends with the man’s cook & driver because they lived in the room adjacent mine. Listening in on the discussions the cook & driver were having, I discovered that my rich client was not the type that treated his subordinates with dignity. Many atimes he would shout at them and call them names in the presence of visitors and dignitaries. I eventually found myself giving thanks to God that I wasn’t a staff of this client. I eventually spent 3 days at the client house and could almost write a book based on the experiences the cook, driver and gateman have had with the man over the years.

On my second night in the clients villa, I remember the cook storming into the room and shouting at the top of his voice (ofcourse he knew that oga could not hear him).
“This oga no get sense o, abi no be me wey be him cook he suppose dey treat very nice….me wey fit poison am if I want…but my mama no raise me up like that if not I for show am pepper”.
He murmured and complained for over 30 minutes about how his “master” had just cursed him out in front of guest for forgetting to bring a tray of glasses for drinking water. Little did I know I was about to have my own memorable experience.

After getting another excuse on the second day, I would eventually have my way on the 3rd day. By the 3rd day of being in my clients mansion, I was already getting scared of him as if he was my boss. I gathered all the courage within and asked for an audience with him. By now he knew what I wanted to see him for: a deposit of N100k for the photography job he had hired me for.

As I approached his room, his PA walked out of the room and almost collided with me. I was surprised to discover that this thirty-something year old beautiful daughter of Eve was in tears. Apparently she had just been dealt with verbally by the same “master” that I was about to meet. I swallowed my saliva as if in a plane that was about to take off. I was more nervous now. I hope this man’s words won’t leave me in tears by the time I was done. I shrugged off the feeling knowing that he wasn’t my boss and that he was just a man. Except he had 7 heads like a beast in the bible, I shouldn’t be afraid of him. Or should I? I was about to find out.

He was laying down on his bed when I walked in. 2 of his best friends were in the room. After a few seconds of repeating the same requisition I had been making for the past 2 days, I handed out to him a printed A4 paper that documented the agreement we had regarding the job at hand and asked him to sign. It was then he flared up and threw the paper back at me.

“How dare you give an agreement to a Harvard Law Graduate. Don’t you know that its improper to issue a contract to a lawyer? Rather it’s a lawyer that should issue out a contract that will require your signature”.

Up until then, I did not know that my world-renowned client was a graduate of Harvard Law School. Up until then, I didnt know that it was “illegal” to present contracts that required a signature to a “law” graduate. I took in a deep breath and for 2.5 seconds thought of what to say in response to the declarations of my lawyer client.

I found myself apologizing to him for not knowing that I was disrespecting him without my knowledge. I explained to him that I was only protecting his interest by putting on paper everything that I promised him I would deliver. Ofcourse I knew that I was protecting my interest against lawyers like that. While expressing my heartfelt apologies to the man through my then-nervous mouth, I was uttering desperate prayers to God in my heart. My singular prayer was for God not to make me treat people the way this rich Harvard client treated people.

He eventually signed the document grudgingly and reached into his bag for a bundle of N1000 notes. What he did thereafter touched my heart and made me feel more sorry for him. He hurled the bundle of N1000 notes at me and asked me to leave his room. The bundle fell right in front of me without hitting me. It was then I knew that God had indeed blessed me with a patient spirit. Had I possessed half of the nature of one of my mentors, I would have walked up to him, return the money, given him a dirty slap (which might have landed me in jail ofcourse), and walked out of the house that night only to later remember that my belongings were still in his mansion. But a patient man I was (and hopefully still am).

I picked up the pack of N1000 notes, counted it twice to be sure it was not short a Naira less than N100k. Realizing that my deposit was complete, I thanked him very much and walked out of the room. I would later thank God for not walking out in tears as the PA had done a few minutes earlier.

Over the years, I’ve dealt with some clients that seemed to have graduated from the same class as my Harvard client. Over the years, I’ve realized that patience is a virtue that will help a photographer like me not to kill some people before their time. Over the years, I’ve realized that my propensity to take rubbish from someone is directly proportional to the money they’re paying me. Yes, I know that can be vain but God has used many Harvard clients to put food on my family’s table over the years. Although I usually don’t do jobs again for clients like that, I’ve found out that they’ve been examples of people that I pray to God that “when I grow up in riches, do not make me like this person”.

Or if it was you that a client threw N100k at, what will you do? Be honest now.
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Plan to take a photography course at eloPhotos Academy. Visit eloPhotos Academy for a detailed list of options of classes to take. It will be the best investment you’ll make in your journey to photography greatness