By FEMI OGUNSHOLA
Nigeria has one of the highest unemployment rates in Africa. According to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s unemployment rate stood at 33.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2020 while the rate of unemployment among youths was even higher, 42.5 per cent.
The NBS further says that as at the time the figures were released, under-employment was 22.8 per cent and youth unemployment was 21.0 per cent.
However, KPMG, a multi-national consulting firm, in a release predicted that Nigeria’s unemployment rate will hit 40.6 per cent in 2023.
“Although the National Bureau of Statistics recorded an increase in the national unemployment rate from 23.1per cent in 2018 to 33.3per cent in 2020.
“We estimate that this rate has increased to 37.7per cent in 2022 and will rise further to 40.6 per cent in 2023“, said KPMG in its Global Economy Outlook report for first half of 2023.
Nigeria’s unemployment figure is outrageous compared to that of Ghana which, according to a BBC report, was 13.7 per cent in the 3rd quarter of 2022.
The scarcity of job means that unemployed people can go to any length to secure a job and top officials in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), take advantage of applicants, exploiting them both financially and morally.
In some instances, job seekers are allegedly offered phantom jobs, enrolled into and collect salaries from the centralised Federal Government salary payment platform, Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
Worried by this situation, the House of Representatives set up an Ad hoc Committee to investigate job racketeering in MDAs and so far reports from the committee’s sittings have been mind-boggling.
In one of the sessions of the committee witnesses Abdulmalik Ahmed and Ali Yaro shared their experiences of being swindled by individuals posing as intermediaries for an agency.
The two witnesses on Aug. 8 presented themselves before the committee which is also probing the mismanagement of IPPS by those in charge of its operations.
They testified how a former staff of the Federal Character Commission (FCC), Mr Haruna Kolo, who double as the IPPIS desk officer and ex-protocol person to the Commission’s chairman, Mrs Farida Dankaka, swindled unsuspecting job seekers,
He was alleged to have acted as a proxy to the chairman.
Kolo, now a staff of Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), in his submission before the committee said his movement to AMCON was facilitated by Dankaka along with three others, which he said included the FCC chairman’s 51 year old sister.
He alleged that the chairman’s sister was rejected at AMCON on account of her age, which according to him.
He claimed Dankaka blamed him for not doing enough to convince AMCON management to accept her.
On his part, Ahmed, an indigene of Adamawa, and the only graduate from the family of 21 said he was ready to part with any amount to secure a job in any Federal Government when presented with the opportunity.
He said the driver to the Federal Commissioner, representing Taraba took him to Kolo, the protocol officer to the chairman of the commission into whose account he paid N1 million for the purpose of giving him a job in the commission.
Yaro, also from Adamawa paid even higher, paying N2 million into Kolo’s account in a bid to secure the federal government job.
“I graduated 11 years ago without a job. I had the privilege of joining the dreaded Boko Haram but I wanted to be a good citizen. So, I thought it was better to pay the N2 million to secure a job than offering myself as a tool for Boko Haram“, he told the committee.
Rep. Yusuf Gagdi, the chairman of the committee said no stone would be left unturned to get justice for the victim.
A visibly angry Gagdi said it was unfortunate that one of the heads of an MDA, after obtaining waiver for recruitment, resorted to a secret recruitment.
Gagdi said MDA’s use waiver to bypass recruitment guidelines, sell jobs to the highest bidders, and engage in fraudulent activities, adding that they perpetrate job racketeering, which undermine the principles of fairness and transparency in recruitment processes.
He described the act as a deliberate effort to engage cronies and sell the slots to willing graduates, while some of highly placed official move their children from one MDAs to the other depending on how `lucrative` the MDA is.
Some of the MDAs considered as lucrative includes: the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria National Petroleum Company Ltd., Nigeria Communication Commission.
Meanwhile, at the investigative hearing, one of the FCC Commissioners representing Delta State , Mr Moses Anaughe’s accused the chairman of the commission of moving her children from NCC to Downstream Regulatory Commission, a subsiduary of NNPC where the pay is higher.
She did not deny the allegation.
Some FCC Commissioners such as those from Lagos, Delta, Osun, Rivers, Enugu even Dankaka’s state, Kwara, among others are up in arms against her, accusing her of selling job slots in dollars using Kolo and her sister as the receiving agents.
Account details where job seekers paid into were provided to the committee with names and beneficiaries, but Dankaka denied any wrong doing.
Swearing with the Holy Quran she said she had discharged her duties to the best of her abilities and never collected money from any applicant personally or through any proxy.
Pundits are of the opinion that if these allegations from the Ad hoc committee settings are true, the President Bola Tinubu administration has a lot to do to clean up the civil service.
They also urge that similar probes be extended to other MDAs in order to determine the extent of the rot and bring culprits to book.