Thursday, 24 March 2016

10 Ways To Curb Employment Racketeering, Influence Peddling in Nigeria

Disappointed with the recent illegal employment of sons and daughters of affluent Nigerians by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in flagrant abuse of due process and extant provisions of the law, I penned a piece: #CBNGate: Let’s Arrest The Culture of ‘Na mu ne’, ‘Rankadede’ in Nigeria! where I x-rayed the twin culture of ingrained nepotism and sycophancy inherent in Nigeria. The current essay is aimed at brainstorming solutions: how to curb employment racketeering, influence peddling in Nigeria. We yearn for a Nigeria where excellence, merit MUST not be sacrificed in the altar of nepotism, godfatherism or quota system. All hands must be on deck if we must rein in entrenched employment racketeering in Nigeria. Stop whining, take action, and do something to birth the Nigeria of your dream!

Before tendering solutions, it is important we appreciate the meanings, ramifications of employment racketeering and influence peddling. The former refers to the illegal act of dolling out employment opportunities to individuals in lieu of money or favours. Similarly, influence peddling refers to the illegal use of one’s position or political clout, connections with persons in authority to obtain favours or preferential treatment for another, usually in return for payment. Both are tantamount to corruption, abuse of office. Without much ado, writer attempts proffering solutions to this miasma stifling our dear country, Nigeria.

1.     To rein in endemic employment racketeering, influence peddling and nepotism in employments in Nigeria, the employment process must be transparent and due process strictly adhered to. 

2.     Henceforth under no guise whatsoever shall a Government Ministry, Department or Agency (MDAs) in the three tiers of government (Local, State and Federal), embark on employment without prior ADVERTISEMENT on print and electronic media. Even the so-called recruitments branded as ‘replacement’ must be advertised and due process, best practice followed. In case you are wondering, more often than not, ogas-at-the-top in Nigerian government establishment’s offer automatic employment to their cronies under the guise of ‘’replacement’’, effectively substituting their cronies for diseased, dismissed, or absconded staff.  

3.     Where possible, to ensure neutrality and professionalism, the recruitment process may be subcontracted to a competent and independent headhunting agency.

4.     Computer-based assessments must be administered and configured in such a way that candidates will see their results immediately they hit the submit or enter button. A situation where candidates sit for assessments or tests and it takes weeks, plausibly months before they receive feedback (a luxury in Nigeria), leaves room for manipulation (mago mago) as we call it in our local parlance).

5.     Sale of Scratch Cards for employment at the federal and state levels MUST be banned. It is unacceptable for Government Agencies and Departments - the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air force, Police, Customs, amongst others, to sell Application forms or Scratch Cards to prospective job-seekers since these establishments have annual budgets for recruitment and training which should offset the cost of application. For instance, prospective recruits into the US/UK Army, Navy or Marines do not have to purchase application forms.

6.     The federal government should design a one-stop portal where all job vacancies are advertised. Take a cue from the United Kingdom’s JobCentre Plus or Canadian Government’s Job Bank websites. Both public and private sector job vacancies will be fed into this portal.

7.     Activities of the so-called private recruitment agencies must be regulated. It is criminal to ask prospective job-seekers to part with say, their first three months’ salary or to demand hundreds of thousands of Naira before issuing an applicant his/her appointment letter. It is also incumbent on employees to demand appointment letters upon taking up employment as some nefarious organizations deliberately shy away from giving employment letters to employees thereby using that lacuna to swiftly ease out the employee if need be without legal consequences. 

8.     The Nigerian government must check the flagrant abuse of expatriate quota by multinational firms who offer jobs with fat paychecks to less qualified expatriates while competent Nigerians wallow in joblessness.  As a matter of urgency, the Nigerian government MUST investigate the printing and sales of CERPAC (Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card) which was outsourced to an Indian company – Continental Transfer Technique Limited (CONTEC). As an informed security expert, it is my humble submission that contracting out such a sensitive project to a foreign firm has dire national security consequences. I recommend that the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) be empowered to print the CERPAC in-house. 

9.     The Federal government and the National Assembly are urged to wade into the practice of Staff casualization (indirect slave labour), undue discrimination, exploitation, harassment and victimization of Nigerian employees often perpetrated on the guise of OUTSOURCING. In the United Kingdom, a fixed term employee (Casual staff) is protected against unfavorable treatment. The law says if s/he works for 2 years or more, such an employee is entitled to the same redundancy rights as a permanent staff and should he work for 4 or more years, such an employee may be automatically deemed a permanent employee. Also in the UK, the Equality Act 2010 otherwise known as the ‘Ageism law’, makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees, job seekers and trainees because of their actual, perceived age or that of someone with whom they associate. The Nigerian establishment, National Assembly must take a cue from the aforementioned best practice by enacting laws to protect workers from undue exploitation, harassment, discrimination and harassment. It is not enough to have laws; we must also ensure that our laws are not just mere paper-tigers.

10.                         To this end, those at the helm of affairs must guard against giving those caught in the web of illegal/employment racketeering a slap on the wrist by simply redeploying or sacking them. Diligent prosecution and punishment must be meted out to serve as deterrence. Nigerians must be vigilant and eschew docility. God will not physically descend from heaven to fix things He has empowered us to do ourselves. If you are unjustly denied a position, promotion or whatever because you’ve got no godfather, do not relapse, be resilient and ‘fight’. Thanks to Social Media, you can take the matter up if you have concrete evidence.

Let’s share this essay until it gets to the relevant authorities and ensure they take action.

Written by:
© Don Okereke
March 2016
Follow Don on Twitter: @DonOkereke

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