The Senate yesterday resolved to investigate all the recruitment exercises conducted by all the Federal Government agencies in the last two years, with a vow to punish perpetrators of employment scams in the country.
The decision followed allegations of widespread recruitment irregularities that include selling of job slots to job applicants for as much as N500,000 per slot.
Two of the senators gave personal testimonies on alleged cases of selling jobs, with one of them confessing that he offered money for a job slot to help a well-qualified job applicant from his constituency.
Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume (PDP, Borno) told the Senate that, out of compassion, he once paid a sum of N200,000 for a job offer in a government agency for one of his constituents, a second class upper graduate of Geography.
Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba also disclosed that many of his constituents had approached him to no avail for N500,000 per job offer in government agencies.
Touched by these and other testimonies, the senators resolved to launch a through investigation into all recruitments done by all the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government in the last two years.
Adopting a motion sponsored by Senator Abubakar Bagudu (PDP, Kebbi Central), the Senate directed its Committees on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs and Labour, Employment and Productivity to probe the recruitment exercises of the federal agencies.
Senator Bagudu brought the motion on floor of the Senate over alleged employment irregularities in the Nigeria Immigration Service and other MDAs.
Contributing to the debate, Senator Ndume confessed that out of compassion, he once paid a sum of N200, 000 for a job offer in a government agency for one of his constituents.
He said: “There was a boy from my constituency who graduated with second class upper and could not get a job for four years. He had been driving a taxi for someone in Abuja here before he came to tell me that one government agency was collecting N200,000 from each job applicant.
“I did not want to give him the money because I couldn’t imagine that kind of thing could be happening, but he was begging me and in the end, I gave him the money. When he went there to pay the money, they told him the charges had gone up to N400,000. He was honest enough to come back to me to return the money I gave him. I asked him ‘what should I do again?’ He said he would be grateful if I should just give him the money to buy his own taxi which he is driving in Abuja today,” Ndume said.
Giving his own personal account, Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba, said: “For me, it is not a mere hearsay because I was directly approached severally by my constituents for N500,000 for job offer in government agencies, but I declined because I couldn’t imagine something like that happening in our country.
“The recruitment exercise has gone that bad in this country. This kind of situation, if not checked, would cause dynastic poverty as only the children of the rich would be getting jobs, while the children of the poor would be shut out.
“The implication of this is that we are planting a time-bomb in this country. We should direct our relevant committees to investigate the recent recruitment in all the ministries, departments and agencies of government, and whoever involved should be punished.
“Until we are able to punish people for this crime, the insecurity we have in this country today will be a child’s play,” said Senator Ndoma-Egba.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu described as a mirage the recruitment exercise and deployment of staff, saying ministers in particular were taking undue advantage of their positions to manipulate the recruitment process in favour of their cronies.
In his contribution, Senator Ayogu Eze (PDP, Enugu) described the job scam as a symptom of a failing state, saying the public service should be recovered from those holding it hostage, especially the Federal Civil Service Commission which, according to him, is doing “disgraceful things” in recruitment exercise.
Senator Chris Anyanwu (APGA, Imo) accused the Federal Character Commission (FCC) of foisting mediocrity on the nation.
She called for the establishment of what she termed as whistle blowers in all the MDAs to halt the trend, saying otherwise, “we’d have social unrest as a consequence”.
On his part, Senator Smart Adeyemi (PDP, Kogi West) said the nation is drifting due to leadership failure. He said all those found guilty of recruitment scandal must not go unpunished.
Senators Suleiman Adokwe (PDP, Nasarawa), Boluwaji Kunlere (LP, Ondo), Ita Enang (PDP, Akwa Ibom), Dahiru Kuta (PDP, Niger), Heneiken Lokpobiri (PDP, Bayelsa) and Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi) described the unemployment rate in the country as frightening and the recruitment scandal, a national disgrace.
They all insisted that all those found to be involved should be sanctioned accordingly.
Earlier in his lead debate, Bagudu noted that employment letters were allegedly offered for sale between N400,000 and N500,000 and that recruitment exercises favour some states at the expense of others.
Senate President David Mark alleged that the Federal Civil Service Commission, charged with the responsibility of recruitment, was most guilty because “they also want to look at federal character.
“They are the ones that should know the available vacancies and recruit accordingly, but there is real unemployment in the land leading to desperation by those wanting to be employed and by those wanting to take advantage of the situation”, he said. “This is truly a very serous thing, and we can minimise it by government and private organisations” creating jobs.
“As long as employment is limited, the desperation will be there,” he said.
Employment scandals in many federal agencies had earlier prompted the House of Representatives to launch similar investigation last month.
The House Committee on Federal Character said that illegal recruitment practices are so widespread that they affect almost all federal ministries, departments and agencies. They are also so pervasive that rooting them out requires an all-out effort and prosecution of the perpetrators, the committee noted.
The chairman of the committee Ahmed Idris told our sister publication Sunday Trust that his committee has discovered that almost all the federal agencies are involved in one form of recruitment malpractice or the other.
He said the situation is so bad that all the agencies need to be “investigated and monitored”.
The committee, he said, has long been conducting the investigation. “And those chief executives of agencies who deliberately violate the provisions of the constitution will be prosecuted because we have found out that they now hide under the guise of replacement to favour their people,” he said.