A recent report that a chief executive of one of the federal government agencies is facing trial in court in connection with his involvement in an under the table recruitment of about 38 people without approval exposes the illicit employment going on in the nation’s Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs).
The chief executive in question is only going to be a scape goat in a matter that is as sordid as it is reprehensible. It is not altogether an alien knowledge to most Nigerians that openings, when they occur, are shared secretly among top politicians and other notable Nigerians in utter disregard for laid down rules guiding how vacancies are to be filled in the nation’s public service.
We believe that this development that brings to the fore the insincerity of government officials in the much talked about unemployment issue also point out symptoms of corruption, nepotism and the high rate of unemployment as well as under-employment in the country. We are aware that there are no places for all those who need jobs in the country at the moment.
However, justice demands that when such openings occur, no matter that they may be few, they are equitably filled through a transparent process. That way, the unemployed will be satisfied that though they did not succeed in that process, they were at least given the opportunity to compete.
The first step in resolving these blights lies in bringing all the perpetrators of the illegal recruitments to absolute and not selective justice and enforcing extant constitutional provisions and other regulations regarding employment in the public service. On the surface, there may be the temptation to drag the Federal Character Commission to the bar of public opinion as an accused for acts of commission or omission in these instances just for it to explain its role in the behind the scene deals that emphasise status rather than equity. But in most cases, the Commission and also its counterpart, the Civil Service Commission, are not even aware that such vacancies exist let alone be part of the process of filling them as required by law.
We admit that personalities can recommend or introduce candidates for employment. But that is the exception rather than the rule as it presently is in the country where the first step in job search is to know someone who will push your case in an inordinate manner. That, in our view, need not be the case.
The solution to what we perceive as an anomaly is for the government to expedite action on the policies that will hasten the diversification of the economy to hitherto untapped sectors with the conscious intention to create massive job opportunities to absorb the millions of graduate and non-graduate youth desperately searching for jobs. Such employment openings should be properly audited and publicly announced to enable all eligible applicants equal opportunity. While that is being pursued, it is imperative, in our opinion, that vacancies when they occur, be declared publicly. We urge the government to ensure that it accelerates and gives practical vent to its planned diversification of the economy through agriculture, small and medium scale enterprises, mining and manufacturing. Partnerships with the private sector, multinationals and donor agencies must be fast-tracked.
Adequate incentives must also be created to ensure that such vocations which are yet in the embryonic stage are made attractive to young people. Getting the estimated 40 million young and employable people off the streets is a tough call. Critical to all of these, of course, is the urgency required to address the national power and energy deficit to galvanize the nation’s economy onto the path of growth. We are by no means forgetting the outrageous interest rate in banks and other financial institutions that are a disincentive to enterprise.
We acknowledge the fact that job creation in the country, under the prevailing circumstances is, indeed, a daunting task but altogether achievable if the right policies are put in place. The government must also develop the political will to implement those policies when enunciated.
While we commend the government, and in particular, the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, whose policy efforts have exposed the possibilities in the agriculture and agri-business sector that is generating employment in real terms, we also argue that other government agencies must join in adding value to the job creation process and making sure that who one knows plays little role in the distribution of the jobs available. That is what justice, equity and good conscience demands.