The anguish of Imo job seekers

OF recent, the Imo State government decided on a so-called job scheme for the thousands of job seekers in the state. It announced that it had in its portfolio 10, 000 vacant public sector job positions. But to get at any of the jobs, an applicant is required to pay the sum of N2,000 in the form of scratch card to a designated consultancy. When the expenditure associated with the completion of scratch cards in cyber cafes is added, a candidate can expect to pay about N3,000 to complete the exercise. Successful candidates must prepare themselves for a final oral interview in the ministry before they can be offered a job. Candidates, according to the advertisement, must complete their applications by April 25, 2010, since changed – perhaps not for the last time – to May 2, 2010.
Ever since the new policy was announced, a restive situation has arisen among the many poor job seekers in the state. Some Imo legislators unhappy with the policy have resorted to buying scratch cards for affected members of their constituency, thereby creating another inequality among job seekers. But the thousands of job seekers who have no money and no sympathetic godfather to bail them out will be denied the opportunity of obtaining a job in their own state regardless of their qualifications. Employment in Imo State, it seems, has become a cash-and-carry business.

Until the Imo invention, all job applications whether in the public or private sector had been free throughout the federation of Nigeria. In fact candidates are warned to be wary of all those seemingly innocuous advertisements in the media demanding money as a prerequisite for job placement. Most are fraudulent establishments with untraceable e-mail addresses and fictitious office addresses. For a state government to descend to these base levels of exploitation is reprehensible.

The Imo State government web site in advertising the 10,000 jobs on offer listed only 114 job titles but crucially failed to mention the number of jobs pertaining to each job title. This omission makes it impossible to verify the claim that there are indeed 10,000 available jobs.

If every candidate pays N2,000 to the coffers of the Imo State government, a huge sum will be aggregated within a short time. By the time you add bona fide Imo State applicants to an unknown number of equally desperate applicants from neighbouring states masquerading as Imo citizens, a vast cache will have been accumulated. About 250, 000 applicants will yield half a billion naira, for instance.

The policy is a manifestation of crooked thinking. Firstly, who among the current crop of Imo civil servants paid anything before they were employed? The Imo State government must realise that employment is not a favour. It is a right in all democracies. Moreover, organisations recruit new blood out of self-interest as all businesses whether public or private have to grow in addition to managing various forms of attrition that occur in the work place. It is the duty of all governments to offer employment freely to their people. This is the case everywhere else in Nigeria except in Imo State. We draw attention to this anomaly because we live in a country where bad ideas are often copied. We call upon all state governments to refrain from the exploitation of helpless youths and offer them a helping hand instead.

As for the experimentation being pioneered by the Imo State government, we call upon that administration to immediately refund the N2,000 wrongfully collected from Imo youths and their long-suffering parents. If the state government is cash-strapped and is seeking ways of raising funds, it should find more creative ways of doing so. This is important so as not to promote the emerging impression that Imo State is unlucky with governance.



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