Femi Osho was enthusiastic and full of ambition when he left the Isolo neighbourhood of  Lagos on September 18th, 2016, for Ebute Metta, Moshalashi Bus stop, Lagos Mainland, South West Nigeria, hoping to secure a job that will provide a salary decent enough to meet his needs and living costs.

 

Osho, a native of Obafemi Owode, a town in Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria, has lived in Lagos since his graduation from university in 2014 – with no job. After applying for several jobs that were not forthcoming, the 24-year-old left home that day, burning with zeal and hoping to accomplish his dreams.

Read: Ugandan graduate shuns jobs for garbage

“After applying for different engineering jobs in Abuja, I received a text message asking me to come for an interview at number 16 Ondo Street, Costain, Lagos,” said Osho who graduated with a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Civil Engineering.” There was no means of making enquires because no telephone number or email addresses were included in the message and I came [to] think it was one of (numerous) jobs I’d applied for,” Osho said, tilting his head dejectedly.

APC supports carry a banner for Buhari and change before this year’s election. Image: Reuters

 

The HND graduate watched his dream of getting a paid job elude him, leaving him in the hands of job-related exploiters who were not only looking to swindle him of his money alone, but to rob him of an asset which cannot be replaced—Time.

 

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and the seventh most populous country in the world, is currently facing an economic downturn. And none of the solution and economic interventions proposed seem to be making things better. As the recession continues to bite harder, job scams have gradually become a normal trend, and their perpetrators are becoming craftier in the ways they operate.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and the seventh most populous country in the world, is currently facing an economic downturn.

The perpetrators, who often pose as human resource (HR) experts, are cashing in millions of Naira monthly from unsuspecting job seekers by asking them to pay to secure a job or a long-term career. They thrive off young school leavers, especially those who cannot differentiate between a scam and a legitimate job vacancy.

 

“They asked us to pay thirteen thousand five hundred Naira into a Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) account with the name Blessing Chioma Ezeokafor, before we can get register to work with them,” Femi Osho said of  his own recruitment scam.

 

Labour Economist, Professor Oluranti Olurinola of the College of Business and Social Sciences (CBSS) of Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, said the country’s high level of unemployment and national under-development, especially among the young school leavers is one of the major factors responsible for the spread of job scams in Nigeria.

 

Prof. Olurinola said the gap created by the absence of government labour offices are being filled by private employment consultants.

 

“These recruitment scams thriving in Nigeria can also be attributed to the high levels of competition for available jobs, and the desperation of those who are willing to go outside the due process of submitting an application and securing an interview in order to get a well-paying job”. Said Oluranti.

 

Digital and Mobile communications expert John Aderemi Ojikutu also blamed the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), the body which regulates communication activities within the country, for allowing the invasion of citizens’ privacy by third parties.

 

He accused the NCC of not doing enough in sanctioning telecommunication operators who were not complying with telecommunications’ standard. “Invasion of privacy is with the NCC; they have not been able to effectively monitor telecommunication services in the country. That’s why people go as far as abusing and violating the law, extracting telephone numbers and email addresses, sending subscribers unsolicited mails and text messages,” he said.

 Read: People need lives not jobs

Looking To The Future

Political solutions have been touted as the answer to the scarcity of jobs, and both President Muhammadu Buhari and Ex-president Goodluck Jonathan made loud promises of ‘change’ and ‘transformation’during their 2015 election campaigns.

Nigerians went to the polls, decided and bought the message of ‘change’ of the now ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), thus when President Buhari came into office on May 29, 2015, many Nigerians believed that his All Progressives Congress (APC) party would produce an answer to the problem. Even former US President Barack Obama’s administration called President Buhari’s win a ‘historic step for Nigeria and Africa’.

The country’s high level of unemployment and national under-development, especially among the young school leavers is one of the major factors responsible for the spread of job scams in Nigeria.

But after two years in office, the Buhari-led government has faced major challenges in delivering on its promises to create jobs for millions of Nigerians, particularly the youth.

Quoting figures from the NBS, former Minister for Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said Nigeria has less than 5.3 million youths who are jobless, yet Universities move 1.8 million graduates into the labour market every year.

 

Recruitment scam
In 2014 when the Nigerian Immigration conducted a test throughout the federation, large crowds of unemployed youths came to write the exams. The picture shows different cities and the large number of youths seeking employment into the immigration. The situation has not changed till today. Photo: Facebook/Lanre Yusuf

Revamping Nigeria’s Economy

Professor Olurinola suggested that President Buhari should focus more on mobilizing all unemployed youths who are interested in food production by equipping them with land and materials for land preparation, as well as supply of seed varieties with improved yield and fertilizers. These young farmers would then be allocated farm holdings in all 774 local government areas (LGAs) of the nation.

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Professor Olurinola called on President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to specifically address youth unemployment by creating “decent employment through the provision of social and economic infrastructure to stem the tide of crime and increase the rate of growth of the economy.” He said “The government should fine-tune both the monetary and fiscal policies that will bring about a suitable macro-economic environment that is suitable for job creation for local and foreign investors in agriculture and other sectors of the Nigerian economy.”

 

As if in response, on April 5th, 2017, President Buhari launched the Nigeria Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which seeks to revamp the nation’s economy. President Buhari said the ERGP will focus on agriculture, with a view to ensuring adequate food security as well energy, industrialization and social investment.

 

The longer job seekers remain out of touch with the labour market, the more difficult – and – costly it is to return to productive employment, as the labour market conditions change from bad to worse. But if  infrastructures such as constant electricity supply, good road networks and water supply, are in place for these businesses to thrive, create jobs and contribute more to national development, then massive employment can be generated, and unemployed young graduates will have options to means of livelihood.  This will reduce the rising trend of job scam in Nigeria, if not totally eradicating it.

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