It was a sunny afternoon in JSS 1. I was new to the secondary school system. Coming from a private primary school where every pupil is monitored and treated specially (why won’t they, I no dey pay?)
Everything was new to me. The most intriguing was the level of independence each pupil had. No teachers staying in class all day, different teachers for each subject and some would still decide not to show up. This golden lesson on terms and conditions was passed down to me just by the window to my classroom by my classmates. I found a group of new classmates arguing and haggling, so I decided to join them out of curiosity. Little did I know I was the mark. A boy held a dwarf cup full of water and claimed no one could ever finish the water in it. I laughed and looked at them ridiculously. How on earth wont I finish this small cup of water? I retorted.
The boy holding the cup shouted “You cant, and I can bet my life on it, oya bring out your money” he said as he dropped a new 50 naira note.
O_O “chai! See money”, I said under my breath. I looked at the boy, his money and the dwarf cup of water I was told I could not finish. I laughed and dropped my bet. There was an uproar. I few nairas exchanged hands. Those were the side betting. I picked the cup of water and downed its content in one gulp, smiling. I was a winner. I had extra cash with me. As I made for the bookie hoping to claim my winnings. The boy asked to check If I had actually finished the water. I became puzzled, is he blind or what I asked. After careful inspection, he announced I did not. My eyes turned red. The world literally froze in time, just like the Nicki Minaj pepsi advert. “It’s a lie, you are cheats” I bellowed trying to conceal my tears. “Oya prove it.” I asked locking his white shirt in a grip. And he did show me. What he showed me has stuck with me for years. He said no one could finish the water without leaving those tiny droplets of water. It then dawned on me how foolish I had been. The possibility of an easy win had clouded my reasoning. I did not clarify what the bet was about. I had sized up the dwarf cup and its content and acted gullibly. And that’s what most people do. They sign documents and contracts without reading the fine lines. Yet when a breach of contract occurs, they scream foul play. Albeit, if they had taken time to read the contract papers well, they would have been able to negotiate a better contract or sign no contracts at all.
Are you about to sign a document? Here are a few tips that could help when signing your next document.
1. A contract or agreement is a document that states terms of engagement between two parties. It could be for any purpose. For example, because I have a blog, you expect me to post articles that enlighten and inform you on my blog. While I expect you to read, comment and share my posts on social media. Then we agree by signing. You get the drift? Right! Let’s move to the next point.
2. Read The entire Document: You need to read and understand the T&Cs of any agreement before signing because simply put, that’s what makes up the agreement. once you sign, you are bound by whatever was written as a term in that agreement.
3. Identify Vague Terms: A term needs to be explicit not implicit. Because contracts and agreements are expectations of parties involved, some terms may have different meanings to each party. There’s really nothing like a hidden clause in an agreement. It may only be vague. If a term is vague or you don’t really understand, you need to communicate to the other party to clarify.
4. You are not under any obligation or coercion to sign any agreement if it seems too demanding. Sometimes, agreements go back and forth between parties several times before they agree on a final one.
5. If there’s a breach of contract, you have the right to sue and are liable to be sued.
6. If a contract seems to good to be true, it may actually not be good at all.
7. I have fulfilled my part of this contract by posting this article. Oya biko, fulfill yours by commenting and please share.
Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @phemyte