How can a serious country looking for serious people to add to its ranks conduct an examination in a stadium?

Employment process in Nigeria seems to be shrouded in one mystery or the other. Many Nigerians have since come to the conclusion that employment into the civil service is crucially based on “who-knows-who”. Merit, it seems, means little or nothing, as positions and vacant spots have already been bought by bribes, even before the vacancies are advertised.

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) test held on Saturday in about 37 capital cities highlights this position. Apart from the irrationality of jobseekers paying a compulsory fee to make them eligible for an examination (with the odds hugely stacked against them even before the exam- 114 people per vacancy), the examination itself was poorly supervised. (Side bar: How can a serious country looking for serious people to add to its ranks conduct an examination in a stadium?) Given the setting, cheating should have been made a national sport, as some candidates said they saw many people copying answers off each other without ignominy, and examination supervisors were bribed to look away. Some candidates even paid N20,000 to get shortlisted after the exams. Meanwhile, the NIS had made its “clean?” N520,000,000 for doing nothing, aside renting stadia, perhaps.

This is not the first time the NIS has been accused of a corrupt-ridden employment process. Early in 2013, Rose Uzoma, the NIS Comptroller General at the time was unceremoniously retired as a result of a recruitment scandal. The Senate mandated the Committees on Federal Character and Employment, and Labour and Productivity, to investigate allegations of bribery in the employment process in the NIS. These committees found that about 4,560 Nigerians had been secretly offered employment.

Some having to pay as much as N400,000 to secure it.

According to reports received in 2013 on by everyday Nigerians, payment of bribes for jobs into the NIS is not an isolated occurrence. In fact, bribes for job applications and employment are the most reported transaction, and 81.8 per cent are for the Public Sector. Indicted agencies apart from NIS are the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC; Customs; Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC; and the Nigeria Police Force, NPF. Mass recruitments conducted by these agencies allow for loopholes which are then used to exploit job seekers. Other factors responsible are: increasing unemployment rate in Nigeria- 23.9 in 2013; desperation for the “security” which government job provides; unclear process of application and employment; inherent bias based on Quota system and Federal Character.

The fact is without a clear unbiased system of employment based on merit, Nigerians will continue to be exploited. Integrity Organization believes it is ethically wrong for any government agency to demand for money from jobseekers. This is what it recommends for a significant reduction in bribes for applications and employment:

  • One agency to oversee and monitor all government employment processes
  • A Public Employment Act binding on all MDAs to adhere to a uniform employment process
  • A transparent and clear employment process
  • Mandatory publicity of vacancies through the Media
  • A transparent procurement process where the services of consultants are solicited.

It’s time to wake up!

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