• Friday, July 12, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria: Where citizens pay to get jobs

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In 2010, the Federal Road Safety Corps advertised its vacant posts to the public. It directed interested job applicants to purchase application forms from various FRSC State Commands at a fee of NGN1,000 after the submission of some required documents.

The same year, the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) requested job applicants to purchase “access codes” from 21 participating banks at a fee of N1,500 in order to log in to their e-recruitment portal.

A year after this in April, the Nigerian Navy conducted an aptitude test at the Navy Secondary School, Ojo. The applicants who came from various states across the federation to write this test had previously paid an online application fee of NGN3,000.

 Last year, the Nigeria Immigration Service made public its recruitment exercise and asked applicants to pay NGN1,000 application fee. I have intentionally left out the conducts of these tests because that is another set of sorry tales thus, when the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) charged interested job applicants a fee of NGN1,000, it did not appear to the candidates as an anomaly. Even when members of the public complained, officials of the NIS not only claimed that the service charge was ‘cheap’ as compared to other government agencies, the Minister of Interior justified the fees as a fee for the IT consultant and not the agency or ministry.

 With the advancements in ICT (Information Communication Technology), government agencies now employ the use of internet technology to whittle down bureaucracies in the recruitment of personnel. Similarly, in order to create a level playing field where applicants are not exposed to the subjectivity of nepotism, internet job applications create a platform to screen candidates based on their submitted credentials. Nonetheless, this has not really solved the problem, it has instead created opportunities for scam artists to fashion out ways of fleecing off unemployed graduates. Our government agencies have set the template where job applicants pay fees to process recruitment processes – unfortunately, it is now a norm.

 When the ‘Oga on the top’ scenario played itself out last year, I was astounded by those who felt the TV presenters just wanted to make fun of the NSCDC (Nigeria Security & Civil Defence Service Corps) official without realizing that the unemployed (youth) really wanted to know the LEGITIMATE website of the Corps. This is because since government charges its own citizens for jobs, fraudsters have/had cashed in on this to either clone existing government websites or create phony websites claiming to be recruiting for various government agencies. In fact, the Nigeria Customs Service and NSCDC have had to come out in the recent past to issue a disclaimer that they were not conducting any recruitment exercises. This action by government agencies of committing job applicants towards financing their job processes has not only aided corruption, it has also made it difficult to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate recruitment exercises.

 Governments all around the world have a basic duty to create employment opportunities for its citizenry as well as catering for their welfare. However, the psyche of the average Nigerian has been so bastardized by the so-called ‘Naija factor’ that wrong normally juxtaposes with right. Never is it the duty for a potential employee (whose chances of eventually getting a job are uncertain) to fund the recruitment process. In fact, some employers go the long way of funding the associated expenses candidates bear in the recruitment process because of the inconvenience caused by their actions.

 The present government talks so much about creation of jobs – it is expected that the least fundamental action Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) take is to include the cost of recruitment exercises in the budget. It is a great disservice to subject citizens to a ‘job tax’ or breed an environment of nepotism where jobs belong to the highest bidders and/or highly connected individuals. Is it not a slight on our image that while some other countries pay their unemployed populace what is called ‘unemployment benefits’, we brazenly add more pain to the plight of the unemployed by taking them through despicable inhumane conditions in the name of recruitment? The last time a bill was presented at House of Representatives to pay jobless graduates a certain amount of allowances, it was thrown out.

 Obviously, it is time for our representatives in the legislature to stop turning the blind eye to these unfair job taxes. Similarly, if we think that ‘padi padi’, favoritism and its likes will not catch up with us soon, it is only a matter of time where the ‘poor have nothing else to eat but the rich’ but the unemployed will have no one else to vent on but the employed. It is time for MDAs to learn from the NIS recruitment saga by creating a level-playing field where meritocracy is the hallmark of recruitments if we really want not the Vision 2020:20 become another ruse in the name of a national plan. No serious nation toys with unemployment (of her youth), no serious nation does!

Mustafa Yusuf-Adebola