“Some people who are well qualified for the job will not be able to attend because they cannot afford the transport fare to get to the test or interview centre. I can’t see the reason why a person who is to be employed in a local government in Borno State will be required to travel all the way to Abuja for an interview. Or, the reason a person to be employed in a branch of a bank in Nsukka has to travel to Port Harcourt or Lagos similarly for an interview.“
UNEMPLOYMENT is already so high, staring us in the face no matter where we turn. But as people are crying and praying for jobs, the few opportunities available are turning out to constitute a huge financial burden on job seekers. Whatever they have to feed themselves is drained to attend interviews.
I have observed for some time now how big organisations in Nigeria carry out their recruitment exercises. They conduct their job interviews in only three cities in Nigeria: Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, leaving out the rest of the states, cities and regions. This means that anyone who wants to attend an interview or do a test for job opportunities has to move to any of the three cities.
Recently, I participated in one of the exercises to ascertain our suitability for employment in a brewery. There was no centre in the whole of South East and I had to choose between Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt. I did not know anybody in Abuja or Port Harcourt, so I chose Lagos because I have a distant cousin living there. I left Enugu three days before the Ability Test and ended up spending two days on the road because of the Enugu-Onitsha and Benin-Lagos expressways.
Two weeks later, after I got home, a media house invited me for an interview. I could not attend because first, the interview was to be held only in Lagos and Abuja. Secondly, travelling to Lagos or Abuja costs an amount of money an unemployed person could not afford twice in two weeks.
Before, I used to think that it was only corporate organisations and oil companies resident only in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt that did this. But, government agencies, departments, commissions and ministries are also culprits in this crime. These bodies recruiting for their wards, local governments, states and federal offices in Nigeria often state that their test centres are only in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
What about centres in South East, North East and North West? Are these job opportunities not meant for every Nigerian? If they are meant for everybody, equal opportunity should be given to all to compete.
Some people who are well qualified for the job will not be able to attend because they cannot afford the transport fare to get to the test or interview centre. I can’t see the reason why a person who is to be employed in a local government in Borno State will be required to travel all the way to Abuja for an interview. Or, the reason a person to be employed in a branch of a bank in Nsukka has to travel to Port Harcourt or Lagos similarly for an interview.
This leads me to think that leaders, in government and private organisations, are very insensitive to the plight of people in need. Insensitivity is a lenient word, indeed heartlessness is better. Anybody who cares will never allow an unemployed person to spend such an amount and travel through the hell called roads of Enugu to Lagos, apart from the distance, to attend an interview or test in which, it is certain that, only very few will succeed.
I am not saying that recruiters should pay test or interview allowances to job seekers (even though it is not out of place in some nations and it even once happened in this country, too). What I am saying is that overconcentration on Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano does not help matters for job seekers living outside these places. All activities in Nigeria must not be scheduled for these cities. Nigeria is made up of six geopolitical zones and activities need to reflect that. This time, it is not for political purposes but to help young Nigerians seeking vacancies to get jobs without spending more than they have, or money they do not have. Even if the jobs cannot be brought closer to people living outside Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, the test or interview should be arranged in such a way that it does not cost them much in transportation and stress.
It is not only in employment matters that there is overconcentration on Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja but also in their activities. This trait runs through government, corporations, companies, non-government organisations, individuals, who are employers of labour. I remember, for example, in my undergraduate days, whenever my class approached banks and telecommunication companies to sponsor our activities on the campus they told us that they could not do anything until they secured approval from Lagos.
It is unfair, improper, inequitable, unwarranted, unhealthy, unmerited, unreasonable, undeserved and wrong. It detracts from the unity we want to build out of our diversity.
Lagos is already congested, yet every year it is the destination of many job-seeking graduates from different higher institutions of learning and from different regions bound to Lagos. It is believed the green pasture is to be found only in Lagos. Recently, I asked a corps member friend on Facebook chat where his destination would be after national service. He was asked why he would not consider Enugu his home state and where he grew up and did all levels of his education. His answer was simple: There are few corporate organisations in Enugu compared to Lagos. That is true because more than 80 per cent of corporate organisations in the country have their headquarters in Lagos. All banks are headquartered in Lagos. All major breweries, headquartered in Lagos. All major factories, oil companies, government agencies, etc.
There is nothing wrong in their having their head offices in Lagos. By the way, Lagos is the commercial capital of Nigeria. But, it is not reasonable enough to schedule all activities of a nation in one or very few places, even from the point of security which is a major concern already. If anything should happen to Lagos, Nigeria will collapse economically.
The government should put a policy in place not just to correct the insensitive recruitment pattern but also to ensure expanded development across the nation. If you are travelling to Lagos, for instance, from Benin City, all you will see is forest until you get into Lagos suburb. When this expanded development is achieved, one will not have to travel from region to region to attend job tests and interviews, except for people who want to relocate. This is how it is in many nations which some call employment exchange. There should be recruitment centres in all the states or at least in the six regions established and managed by government agencies. This will bring corporations and employers closer to those seeking jobs. These centres will host tests and interviews for massive recruitments. The centres will serve as designated points for job seekers to go for notification.
This, in addition, will eliminate or reduce employment scams. When job seekers know where to call for a test and interview and notifications or from which websites they can obtain authentic information, they will not fall prey to scammers. Also, it would not be an opportunity for some individuals to steal public funds. Since there are government agencies in the geo-political zones this should fall among their functions, providing an arm of labour office.
When this platform is established, it will go a long way to alleviate the financial burden job seekers bear. It will also engender a generational paradigm that will ensure a smooth transition of our graduates from higher institutions to employment.
• Odo is a graduate seeking job.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”