Scammers at Work

Even though the Nigeria Police has yet to advertise vacancies for 10, 000 slots as directed by President Buhari, scammers have begun to play their game. A syndicate now seeks N100, 000 or N150, 000 from each applicant in these hard times. Just as I did last year, when a syndicate was “recruiting” for the Nigeria Immigration Service, I have warned friends and relations to not part with a dime.

It is known that, at times, these syndicates truly give jobs at Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, ministries and other agencies, after receiving bribes. Yet, my stand has remained unchanged. I understand how desperate everyone has become in a nation where jobs are routinely destroyed but hardly created. But desperation is at the root of jobseekers’ problems. In the course of rushing to get something, they get duped.

The surer way to getting a job in the civil service these days is through a godfather or godmother. Before civil service jobs are advertised, the vacancies are filled with the candidates of governors, ministers, senators, House members, perm secs, directors and traditional rulers. The advertisement is published just to satisfy the civil service rules.

In the private sector, 419 also thrives. When a supposed employer requests a cheque or cash from a jobseeker, it is nothing but 419. No sincere employer requests money from an applicant; instead, he pays for the applicant’s transportation to and from the venue of an interview as well as offers tea or lunch.

Unemployment is now an emergency. Nobody can ignore it anymore, because government cannot be stable in any country where joblessness and poverty are endemic. Boko Haram, kidnappers and other criminals have been sending a message but myopic leaders are yet to understand.

It seems to me that Nigeria has some of the most selfish people on earth. They don’t care about their neighbours. Each is after the perks of office: easy money, free lunch, estacode, free overseas treatment, free security, opportunity to be worshipped like a god. They don’t think about the next generation; they think about the next election.

And I have always known that we shall reach this crisis point. Schools keep expanding and churning out graduates that are not prepared for the workplace. Industries keep dying. Indeed, I have never doubted the white man’s cleverness. They granted us political independence without economic independence. They encouraged our parents to study courses that could only lead them back to the classroom: the same nonsense “knowledge” is passed from one generation to another. Those who dared to study Engineering, Mathematics, Botany and Pharmacy were limited to learning the theoretical aspects. Post-independence leaders were yet to settle down and think when thugs in military uniform shoved them aside and seized power. The rest is history.

Today’s graduates should first recognise the worthlessness of their certificates. Government jobs are no longer there. Of course, I know that everyone would jump at any job offer from government agencies like the NNPC, EFCC, SSS or CBN. The average jobseeker should understand that jobs in such “lucrative” agencies are reserved for the insignificant minority that have fathers and mothers in high places. We all can’t be there.

The only course open to the disadvantaged majority is to start a business. The handicaps for those who choose this course of action are known: lack of capital (because the banks lend at 30-60 per cent and you must bring your grandfather to prove that he has more than the loan you are seeking), corruption and lack of electricity. It is thus better to start a small business. It could be rice, chicken, fish, cocoa-yam, pepper, onion or yam farming. Those with skills should identify where their skills are needed. The internet is a huge marketplace. But, as usual, those who benefit financially from it are in Europe, Asia and America. It is good. If we Africans feel ashamed, let us invent something for mankind.

I don’t usually recommend trading or buying and selling because many traders succeed by cheating and lying. People with character may not be comfortable with that. But they can engage in distributorship of goods. One obstacle here may be the lack of a good transportation system.

This is a time for everyone to adjust their ambitions, their lifestyles and their values. SAP – the Structural Adjustment Programme – of the Babangida era seems irreversible. Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti said that SAP stood for “stomach adjustment programme”. As always, he was right.


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