Demanding money by some government officials to recruit people or to give them ‘offer’ in Nigerian parlance is certainly not new, but whenever you hear that it actually happened to someone you know it makes one so sad that even an optimist may pause and think if indeed Nigeria would get out of its multiple problems.
There are some government agencies that are regarded as lucrative; they have big salaries and in some cases the jobs give them the opportunity to extort money from the people that want to get the services of those agencies. For example if the official rate of something is N20,000 they would increase it to N50,000 or more depending on who ‘help’ you and how big your pocket is perceived to be.
So these agencies are the dream jobs of many young people and anybody who gets a job there is thought to either know somebody of influence that helped him or give a lot of money.
One woman told me that her son just got a job in one of such agencies. I congratulated her and said he was lucky since it was difficult to get such a job. And that was when she opened up.
She said she and her husband had to do all they could and paid N500,000 to get the job for her son.
“Parents now have to save to pay for jobs for their children. You may not want to do it, but if you can afford it you have to pay instead of your child to remain jobless,” she said.
About three years ago one man told me that someone was trying to find a job for his son in this same agency. But after a long time he was asked to pay N400,000, which brought an end to the matter. He said he didn’t have that kind of money, having just retired as a low level worker.
Also one woman gave N300,000 to get a job for her brother, though unfortunately the person ran away and her brother didn’t get the job.
The irony is that any time such stories are exposed the authorities would express shock and outrage over what they have already known and some may even be part of. It is akin to the intractable case of ghost workers where no matter how many screening exercises are conducted to authenticate the number of workers the ghost workers play the ghosts by always finding their way back to the payroll. This is because it is usually implemented at the highest level.
Few years ago somebody was said to be selling ‘offers’ at N100,000 each for these lucrative agencies. He didn’t hide it; he was brazen about it because he was close to the powers that be.
There were stories, there were rumours, but since we are not in society where such things are taken seriously, nobody had bothered to investigate him. It is possible that the investigation authorities may just shrug, after all people do it and therefore it is not an offence in the strictest sense of the word.
This means that a child of a poor person who has a right to be employed may not get a job simply because his parents could not give N500,000. At least not in these agencies that are exclusive for the highest bidders, so to speak. If indeed he gets a government job, be sure that it is where the pay is so poor that it may not be enough to pay for his transport fare for a month.
If those in charge have the will to bring such rackets to an end they can do it, but it seems Nigeria has a shortage of such people that is why they persist. In this regard unless we have such people in place it would be business as usual and the rot continues.