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Internship in Nigeria is Becoming Modern-day Slavery

Nigeria prepares you for hell, just as internship in Nigeria is becoming modern-day slavery. People usually say that if you can live and survive in Nigeria, you can survive anywhere in the world. Chinwe, who was working as a first-level intern at an event planning organization in Lagos, was on her way to work one morning in a bus when she asked the conductor to stop for her to get off.

She crossed the road to the other side and boarded another bus taking her home. She also left the work group chat and blocked all the numbers. After doing this, she said, “Sufferhead no dey even pay.” The truth is, that should not be the case. Nigerians have an uncommon desire for suffering. People in better and higher positions usually despite seeing other people get it easy and for free. They believe you have to see shege and sweat profusely before you make it in life. I know it’s the slave mentality eating us alive.

Internship in Nigeria

Exclusivity and the Internship in Nigeria

Someone once tweeted, “Nigerians love the idea of exclusivity.” Yes, they do. 

Aisha, who was once a student of Unilag, went to London, England to complete her studies and acquire a Master’s Degree. She had help along the way and got there successfully. She never spoke about Japa’ing until she settled in. After the news broke out, her friends started to reach out to her to ask about the admission processes and she replied “Ah, I don’t really remember o! It is long. You’ll get tired and quit.” No sooner than being there for just 3 months, Aisha goes on Facebook to rant about how Nigerians are already becoming too much in England. 

Nigerians hate seeing other people have access to things that they have. They like the feeling of being exclusive, I better pass my neighbor. Aisha liked that she was one of the only people from her department who had moved to the UK. She liked being an ‘Abroad babe’. 

The idea of exclusivity applies in all areas of our lives in the country. At the club, at church, in school, and even at the place of work. People like to be given respect and seen as superior – as better than the rest. 

Nigeria is already at an unemployment rate of 33% as of September 2022 and is set to hit 57% in 2023 according to Trading Economics. There is no reason why we would have to struggle to get a job and then after acquiring a said job, have a completely bad experience because the person at work wants to be the bully they couldn’t be in secondary school. 

Interns are usually at the receiving end of the bullying. 

Who is an intern? 

An intern is a person who works as an apprentice or trainee in an occupation or profession to gain practical experience, and sometimes also to satisfy legal or other requirements for being licensed or accepted professionally.

Internship is very common in Nigeria. There is an intern in every corporate organization in the country. Interns could be recent secondary school graduates, IT students, or Corp members. 

The work sector in Nigeria can easily be referred to as modern day slavery. Here are some of the atrocities interns experience in the workspace.


This is the most common one. As an intern, your superiors in the workplace will always send you out to buy food for them and it is always Amala or Rice. Some Nigerians believe it is a way to keep you active in the office. You will go on the errand and when you return, two more people are asking you to go again. They never really ask you at once, they make you go two or three times. Sometimes, they also make you use your money to buy them food. 


Most times, this stems from the idea that your superiors think you got the internship because of who you know and not because you put in the work to be there. They are usually jealous of everything from the type of phone you use to the hair and clothes you wear. It makes them question and doubts how you got to where you are in life. 

Time wasting 

Most interns don’t really learn anything in the end and just realize that they wasted their time because when they could have learned, they were being asked to do something else completely different from why they were hired. As an intern, you do everything but learn the work. 

Under the bus 

Superiors do this all the time. They hate the idea of being scolded and wrong so they throw their interns under the bus to take the fall for their actions. To them, it is easier to scold an intern because they shouldn’t know so much at that stage. It is also easy to let go of an intern in an organization because they are not an asset to the growth of the company. 


The amount of workload left for an intern to work on is not adequate. Interns are not supposed to know so much. The entire point of an internship is learning. It is supposed to be a learning process. It isn’t right that you then give so much workload to an intern. Even if they know so much of the work, they shouldn’t do so much. 

No voice 

Superiors hate the idea of their inferiors having an opinion or voicing out their thoughts on subjects. Nigerians always want the younger ones to always listen and never speak. They hate being wrong or corrected so they always shut up interns. Interns love the idea of being involved. They feel safer in such environments and contribute more. 


This is very common with male superiors and female interns. There’s always some form of harassment that HR usually ignores. In most cases, the interns cannot really do anything because they are forced to believe that no one will believe them if they complain. It becomes tiring to always dodge a co-worker and to put in extra effort to dress ‘moderately.’ It should be bizarre that a boss should want to have a relationship with an intern but unfortunately for us all, Nigeria doesn’t see the atrocity in that. 

Underpayment and lateness in payment 

Not only do they underpay, they also pay late. It’s like people have to beg to get paid for all the workload they have been put in throughout the month. In some organizations, they don’t even inform you about the late payment. If you do not remind them, they will not even pay you until the middle of the next month. Most companies only like to work with interns because they to underpay them. It’s one of the easiest and most overlooked ways of exploitation. As interns, you are not supposed to earn so much because you’re learning and it’s the best way for company XYZ to pay less. 

Final Thoughts on the Experience of an Internship in Nigeria

Every day in the work sector, it is always one thing or the other that makes working in Nigeria so hard. Interns shouldn’t have to always face these issues. This shouldn’t be the way they’re welcomed into the workforce in the country. 

Stephanie Nneoma Mbachu

Stephanie Nneoma Mbachu was born on the 20th of August, 1999. She’s an English Language & Literature graduate of Augustine University. She is a podcaster, an actor, a spoken word artist, a dancer, singer and a writer. She has been writing since 2014. She thought it was easier to express herself by writing every thought and emotion down. She gained prominence for an interview that went viral in October, 2020. She has worked on a lot of projects by writing scripts for influencers and brands. She also has a short story called Wreck on Saturn’s Day. She is the host of the podcast theSNMpodcast that she releases every Sunday on all streaming platforms. She has appeared on different shows such as ISWIS, Love and Lies, Eveafterdark, Peeker among others and she is currently on-set hosting some of her own shows too. She is an entertainer and feels the most free in front of a camera. Stephanie loves hanging out and playing with her friends and family because she wants to live through every experience before death. She is a big believer of her name and she believes she’s going to be a big influence and a legend before she dies. She calls herself Powerful. Stephanie can be found on social media @mbachustephanie.