Employment racketeers must be prosecuted


THE prevalence of job racketeering in the Federal Civil Service was recently publicly confirmed via the scandalous confessions of a former desk officer at the Federal Character Commission, Haruna Kolo, at a House of Representatives committee hearing. His testimony related how money was extorted from jobseekers and implicated the Chairperson of the FCC, Muheeba Dankaka, whom he alleged was neck-deep in selling slots to desperate job hunters.

The can of worms was opened during an investigative hearing on job sales and racketeering by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government by a House ad hoc committee.

Kolo swore that he indeed fronted for Dankaka and had been collecting bribes and funnelling part of the proceeds to her. Dankaka vehemently denied receiving any such money, but dramatically, she had earlier accused other FCC commissioners of selling job slots.

Amid the squabbling, the inescapable confirmation is that job racketeering is thriving, and is even perpetrated by very senior figures entrusted with sensitive national responsibilities.

It needs to be stopped. More; an intensive enquiry is required service-wide to smash the cartels, identify the perpetrators and prosecute them on criminal charges. Additionally, effective institutional measures should be emplaced to prevent such practices.

Kolo, who has since transferred his services from the commission to the Asset Management Company of Nigeria, confessed that he used his personal bank account to collect large sums of money from job applicants and withdrew the same for Dankaka in cash. The anti-graft agencies should move in. AMCON should evict Kolo from its staff roll promptly. It does not need self-confessed felons.

Indeed, two victims of the job racketeering testified that they paid N1 million and N2 million each for job placement in the commission.

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The revelations are only a glimpse of the extensive stench of corruption in the public service. There were several petitions to the Senate from aggrieved jobseekers last year alleging that the Niger Delta Development Commission management did not allow them to carry out any documentation despite issuing them letters of employment. One petition signed by a former deputy governor of Ondo State, Agboola Ajayi, alleged that some NNDC staff regularly sold employment slots.

President Bola Tinubu should initiate action to cleanse the service. He had recently expressed concern over the large number of personnel and voiced his determination to review the system. This is a good place to start. He should order the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission in. The FCC chair and all other commissioners should be suspended to allow for an unhindered probe.

Of the 40 MDAs so far summoned by the Reps ad hoc committee, only four have so far responded. Tinubu should wield the big stick. He should order the Head of Service of the Federation to enforce compliance. Officials hesitating should be swiftly punished to drive in the message that he means business.

Corruption reigns in federal agencies; in recruitment, salary payments and procurement. As many public institutions have since stopped advertising vacancies, reports say some job applicants pay as much as N5 million to secure employment. Job racketeering is also prevalent in the states and local government councils. To secure a teaching job in some states, applicants are made to pay large sums.

Various surveys reveal that ethnicity, nepotism and favouritism come into play in public service recruitment. A UNODC report observed that 32 per cent of Nigerians who secured jobs in the public service in 2019 paid a bribe.

Unfortunately, the IPPIS IT payment platform emplaced to checkmate the racketeering has been circumvented. The HoS, Folashade Yemi-Esan, said corrupt officials connived with job racketeers to beat the system and fleece the treasury.

All the officials indicted must be prosecuted. Extensive reforms of the service should follow.


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