- We borrow to offer bribe for jobs – Victims
As the economic hardship bites harder, some top civil servants and their counterparts in the private sector have persisted in exploiting the high unemployment situation in the country, The Point correspondent’s investigation has revealed.
They fleece desperate job-seekers of whopping sums of money.
Most of the government workers in this category, especially top officials of the Federal Civil Service Commission, have not relented in devising means of exploiting the teeming unemployed youth.
Our correspondent learnt that they demand between N200,000 and N500,000 from their victims directly and in some cases, indirectly.
The perpetrators of this crime are, no doubt, exploiting the nation’s employment crisis, which got worse in the first quarter of 2016 with the unemployment rate rising from 10.2 per cent as at December 2015 to 12.1 per cent. Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics’ Unemployment Watch Report shows that the population of unemployed Nigerians has increased by 518,000 to over 1.45million.
Sources close to some of the workers at the FCSC revealed that the syndicate either asks the desperate youths to pay through agents, who earn commission from each individual, or they are given the account details of a junior officer where they deposit the money.
The FCSC, the statutory body which recruits workers for Federal ministries, departments and agencies, is said to have become notorious in this regard.
Inspite of the anti-corruption stance of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, our correspondent gathered that some top officials of the commission are not relenting in their demand for huge sums of money from job seekers before ‘assisting’ them to secure ‘juicy’ appointments, particularly into the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigeria Immigration Service.
We borrow to offer bribes – victims
Ms. Tonia Umeh was one of the hundreds of graduates who besieged the FCSC offices in Abuja, the nation’s capital, recently, to submit their job applications. After struggling unsuccessfully along with the others to gain entry into the commission’s premises, she left in frustration and sat on the brick pavement outside.
Narrating her experience to our correspondent, Umeh said she refused to heed instructions to drop her form at the commission’s gate and insisted on taking it personally inside. According to her, she filed job applications at the commission three years ago and had yet to receive any acknowledgement or even get any job.
“I have come to see whether I could meet someone who will help me. Some friends who got jobs last year told me they paid money to some people in the commission and they got the jobs. So, I want to see whether I could meet someone who will promise to give me job and I’m ready to pay,” she said.
Asked if she succeeded, Umeh said: “Yes, I met a guy who asked me to bring N300,000 and I would get the job. Though, I couldn’t afford the money, I borrowed from friends and relatives because I am optimistic that I will pay back within few months after I resume work.”
Confirming Umeh’s claims, a staff of NSCDC in Ogun State, Mr. Seun Ogun told our correspondent that he had so far helped about 10 job seekers to secure employment in the NSCDC for a fee.
Ogun told our correspondent, who posed as a potential client, “The minimum I collect from them (job seekers) is N200,000, depending on the educational qualification and bargaining power of the potential employee. You may think it is expensive but a number of us share the money. I also have to settle some of my bosses.”
A director in one of the Federal Government agencies in Abuja said that he had to cough out a whopping N1million to secure employment for two of his nephews in the NSCDC. A biologist, Ms. Toyosi Adeoti, is a victim of the job racketeering syndicate. After her first and second degrees from the University of Ibadan, she was filled with the hope of easily securing a job at the Nigeria Customs Service, which had been her dream job since her undergraduate days.
To her dismay, her hopes were dashed when she discovered that she could not get a job without parting with some huge amount of money, first. Having waited in vain for about two years in search of a job, her parents stepped in. Those they approached in the NCS insisted that money had to exchange hands before their 30-year old daughter could get a job.
After conducting some checks, her parents paid N300,000 to some top officials in the Lagos office of the customs service.
The customs officials were said to have promised Adeoti’s parents that their daughter would be among the next batch of new officers to be recruited into the NCS. But more than two years after, that promise of a job in the customs has yet to materialise.
Our correspondent gathered that the amount of money being demanded as bribe by the syndicate for job placement is usually four times the salary of a fresh graduate recruited into the Civil Defence and six times or more, the salary of a fresh graduate employed in the other MDAs. In other words, the racketeers extort as much as six months’ salary upfront as bribe from their hapless victims.
Sometimes, request goes beyond money
Our correspondent also discovered that the request by the top officials of the agencies and politicians go beyond monetary demand from the job seekers. While requests from the male job seekers are often limited to money, the demand from their female counterparts is much more.
A 27-year-old female applicant, who pleaded anonymity, disclosed that some legislators take advantage of the desperate female job seekers.
A graduate of Business Administration from the Enugu State University, who simply identified herself as Miss Joy, said she was constrained to allow a senator representing her constituency in the South-East geopolitical zone to have “his way” with her as an incentive to encourage the lawmaker to assist her to secure employment with one of the MDAs.
“I agreed because I was desperate to get a job so that I can take care of my sick mother. After allowing him, I am still jobless because he keeps tossing me around,” she lamented.
It’s a national embarrass ment- Senator Ojudu
Angered by this development, Senator Babafemi Ojudu told our correspondent how some job seekers in his constituency were swindled of huge sums of money, in their desperate bid to get recruited into the Civil Defence Corps.
According to Ojudu, after each of the applicants paid N250,000 , they were screened and employed for only three months before they were eventually sacked by the Civil Defence high command in Abuja.
“They got a letter last year asking them to report to Abuja. When they got to Abuja, their letters of employment were withdrawn. Those affected still have the teller for the payment of the money and the account numbers of the officers who took the money. The employment scam is a national embarrassment,” he said. Speaking in the same vein, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba noted that the money-for-job scam is a reality in the country.
“For me it is not a mere hearsay because I was directly approached several times by my constituents offering N500,000 for job offers in government agencies, but I declined because I couldn’t imagine something like that happening in our country,” he said.
The lawmaker however warned that if this trend was not checked, it could lead to “dynastic poverty” in which only the children of the rich would be getting jobs and creating a time-bomb situation.
It won’t stop until unemployment is address ed – experts
Several labour experts laid the blame for the rise in the incidence of such job scam on the doorsteps of the government.
According to them, government had failed to address the increasing rate of unemployment in the country.
The Managing Director, WorkPro Resources, Ms. Bunmi Onipede, explained that unscrupulous people had continued to take advantage of the worsening unemployment situation in the country to dupe young Nigerians.
Another human resources expert, Mrs. Dolapo Oloyede, shared Onipede’s view. According to her, so long as inadequate job opportunities persisted in the country, the unemployed would always be desperate.
“The way out is for government and the private sector to create more jobs for the teeming youth or the Federal Government should pay more attention to skills acquisition so that the youth can be self-employed,” she said.