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Published On: Tue, Aug 5th, 2014

Nigeria: Un-employment, under-employment and the un-employable

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jonathan-sadBy Abdullahi Baba Abdul

The immigration recruitment saga was an eye opener to Nigerians. Imagine the number of applicant who turned out to honour the last purported recruitment process organized by the Nigerian Immigration Service, albeit remote controlled by the Minister of Interior. If our direct extrapolation of Un-employment in Nigeria is based on the number that came out for the exercise, then Nigeria is in a deeper mess than we ever thought. A perusal at the Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary reveals that; an un-employed is the one without a job although able to work.

Now, going by the above definition, can anyone justify the number of individuals who presented at the various centres as perfectly fitted into this definition? The answer is No; for the simple reason that, with the benefit of hindsight, many if not all of these candidates have jobs elsewhere. The question is now, then why would a man live his home, empty his bank account and risk his life to travel distance kilometres just to be associated with a venture that is almost always, unprofitable?. Only about four thousands candidates were needed and over a hundred thousand applicants were said to have been invited. A cursory look at the situation in Nigeria, it suffices to say that, the revelation following the incident is quite insightful.

While un-employment is truly a Nigeria problem, the picture or impression that the situation seems to portray is far from the truth. This is not to say that the Nigeria government is exonerated from the issue. There is no doubt that many out there do not have a job  even as they may have got some skills and willing to work, but the trouble in Nigeria is beyond just un-employment but under-employment and un-employability of Nigerians; so to say. Before I shed light on the later, let me dwell little on Un-employment. The reason why un-employment is more of an issue is for the simple reason that recruitment processes in Nigeria does not follow due process; it is shrewd in secrecy and even when it appeared to be an advertised process, “god-fatherism” will always have it way. Not even the so called International organizations are spared from this mess; I bet you that the Nigeria factor thrives so well in the Nigeria sovereignty.

Over the years, personal experiences and extensive interactions with applicants, many job seekers are under-employed individuals competing with the un-employed and making it even more difficult for the un-employed to secure a place, the resultant frustration is that the under-employed get the jot herby blocking the chance(s) of the un-employed applicant from being under-employed too; and the cycle continues over and over. More worrisome is the “law of inertia “that seems to grip the employers to fill a vacant position after losing staff to whatever circumstances including greener-underemployment. To illustrate what I mean, let me put it this way. In Nigeria, people are employed without commensurate pay and job responsibilities attached to their supposed level of expertise, for instance, why should an applicant be refused permanent appointment having merited it instead subjected to casual employment? Why should a staff stagnate for several years without commensurate pay rise and job responsibility? It is not an issue that In Nigeria Banks and Telecommunication firms have a field day. They hire and fire without recourse to labour laws. It is in Nigerian Banks that even as a Bank Manager, you are not sure of having access to your computer system the next day even after an impressive balancing of account the previous day.

It is in the same country that you have a better skilled and schooled individual working under a mediocre; how do you expect to retain such an expert? It is worse off in our so called ministries (Federal, States and Local governments) where budgetary allocation for the training of staffs are being squandered by the top officers and financial retirements are done in their names without an iota of shame or remorse. In fact, in some juicy departments as they call it, you don’t have a schedule until your loyalty in the thieving business is assured; so you have adult men roaming from one end of the complex to the other inquiring if there are any goodies for them. Now the question is this; are there no labour officers that monitor labour activities? Are there no mechanisms to check this entire eyesore? In Nigeria, the day you get employed, instead of a one way feeling of being honoured, your employment letter tells you that although you are employed but you have no right whatsoever to claim as an employee, then it will done on you that those whom you see at the top ladder have waited foolishly to get there (certainly not patiently).

 I remember reading an employment letter from a so called international organization instructing the prospective staff to reply immediately or else thousands are waiting; do you know what happened? Of the six applicants that were successful and offered employment, only four honoured the offer and only one of the candidates could be retained by the organization, while up till this moment, they could not get a replacement for the other five who have declined/left them; what a braggart!!!. I hope they have learnt their lesson.

While un-employment is a global phenomenon at various degrees with it attending consequences, In Nigeria, under-employment and un-employability of its citizenry seems not  to be an issue; the latter which is the outright consequence of faulty educational system as I may adduce. It is sad to talk of un-employment and under-employment in the face of un-employability of our graduates and applicant. Today University graduates and alike can hardly present themselves for a genuine recruitment process for the simple reason that they cannot even write a simple application letter not to talk of passing an aptitude test or Job interviews, the consequence of this is that, they hardly seek for independence and liberty to explore the world with a resultant fate of discovering themselves for the good of themselves and the nation at large. One question left for the people to answer is that; can a legitimate, purposeful and clue-full government reverse this pitiful trend?

Dr. Abdullahi Baba Abdul via Babaabdul2003@gmail.com

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