On Friday July 18th, I boarded a night bus for the first time in my life. I was very apprehensive given the bad state of our roads and the activities of men of the underworld. The risk associated with travelling by road for 10 long hours and the resources I would expend in the process made the choice a very difficult decision to arrive at, especially when I considered the fact that the result of the exam which I was billed to write could go either way. Just last two weeks, the Petroleum trust development Fund (PTDF), released the list of successful candidates for their oversee scholarship after about 8months of endless waiting. I became worried that some powerful Nigerians may take advantage of the long wait to rig the selection process. My suspicion heightened when a friend called me and asked me to send my particulars, so that his sister who works with the government, can help increase my result score. I regretted not sending my particulars to this friend when last week, a former school mate called me to inform me that he had passed the PTDF exam. Knowing that I did not see him during the exams, I asked him which center he wrote his own exam, he laughed and told me flatly that he didn’t sit for the exams. His name miraculously appeared on the successful candidates list because he has a powerful Uncle who pulled some strings on his behalf.
Now you understand why going to Lagos for the exams was a big deal for me. I went anyway; I took the risk to travel to Lagos from Port Harcourt for the Seplat recruitment exam because I needed the job. I have a job, but the opportunity of landing a better job will always be appealing. Luckily, I arrived at the venue of the exams in ample time to brush my teeth and change my shirt. As I readied myself for the test, I met a guy who also came from Port Harcourt for the recruitment exercise and we got talking. He told me how he was invited for a Halliburton interview and I was thinking to myself, ‘this guy must be very intelligent’. I was crestfallen when he told me that he did not even apply for the job in the first place, to talk of sitting for the exams. He was merely invited for the interview at the instance of his highly connected brother who was part of the system. He must have seen the shock on my face because I could barely talk, when he started telling me that he wished he had brought someone to sit for the exam on his behalf.
Few months ago, 21 graduates lost their lives in the NIS recruitment exam. Till today, the Minister under whose watch this recruitment heist was pulled off is still at the helms of affair in the Ministry of Interior. Hundreds of thousands of graduates were subjected to an exam when most of the slots have been taken by politicians and top ranking civil servants. We have moved on from that debacle and the millions of naira creamed off from jobless Nigerians are yet to be refunded even after Mr. President’s directive. The government which seems overwhelmed by the present security challenges is barely doing enough to arrest unemployment and the major opposition party seems too busy with insulting the ruling party, that it can hardly find the time to tell Nigerians how they intend to create jobs if elected. Recruitment agencies are cashing in on the misfortune of graduates to rip them off by hoodwinking them with different kinds of graduate programs and fees to help them search for non-existent jobs. Companies on the other hand are making it very difficult for fresh graduates by introducing obnoxious recruitment criteria. If companies are not asking for impossible years of experience (as if you can have an experience without working), they will be calling for age brackets that will disqualify many graduates because of the time wasting NYSC program.
This country is becoming increasingly difficult for young Nigerians who do not have connections or are unwilling to soil their integrity. It is a sad reality that in today’s Nigeria, who you know is better than what you read or graduated with. Hard work and competence count for nothing in a nation where nepotism has been elevated mediocrity above excellence. Graduates are becoming desperate as their patience wanes with each passing day, even as they see the opulence displayed by our greedy politicians. My worry is that one day, this critical mass of our population may revolt and its consequences will be worse than the present crisis in the North East. What worries me even more is that more youths are ready to do whatever it takes to become gainfully employed, including selling their conscience. The future of this country will be in dire straits if her future leaders are brought up to believe that honesty, hard work and competence, do not pay. Something urgent needs to be done about the ugly reality of Nigeria graduates.
I can only hope for the best as I await the result of the Seplat recruitment exam, since I do not have any big man to plead my case.
Offor honest is an active Nigerian Youth