Woes of Immigration and FAAN recruitment: Where is Nigeria heading to?

The All Progressive Congress (APC) has bored us with the slogan of CHANGE. Change has become a mere song we all listen to in order to ease boredom. I am not a cynic, I am very optimistic about the progressive revolution or probably evolution they will take Nigeria through. The bitter truth is that the 'change' if it will ever come will only benefit the politicians in the APC train as well as their allies. Nigeria has deteriorated in every aspect. Since independence the only sector that has achieved maximum progress is the "Corruption Sector" Nigeria is like a patient suffering from a new strain of Ebola, hence the need to get a serum before she we start thinking of a candle light session. I write this article with so much pains, tears and anger in my heart. One day the youths will wake up with arms and ammunitions to attack our present and past leaders one by one like the xenophobic attacks in South Africa as a result of accumulated hatred which aggravates the inhumane/beastial nature of every man.

There have been several governmental recruitment exercises in Nigeria. When you intend to apply for anyone, you get the frequent question which is "do you know anyone there" This is a clear keep off inscription for all children of the masses waiting on that microscopic chance of merit. A friend who has relocated to Dubai on educational pursuit refreshed my memory about the highly publicized recruitment exercise by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nigeria. It was all over the Newspapers, Radios and Television stations. The masses as usual moved out en masse to hijack the golden 'opportunity' by the government to make life better while the pot-bellied rich men's children stayed within the confines of their houses patiently watching the drama. Qualified graduates were asked to report to the nearest state secretariat in their geopolitical zone. Since I live in the South-West region, I was in Ibadan. The registration process was worse than the fuel scarcity queue at filling stations. Thousands of unemployed and under-employed graduates came out in thousands to 'fool' themselves. I was shocked to see the president of my department 4 years before I graduated with one big suit which could be safely called a 'coat'. Lo and behold, such a bright young man with stellar qualifications had achieved virtually nothing. He was approaching 31 without a job and probably thinking of marriage which is what makes a successful African man. He sat me down with some philosophical talks he must have gathered from motivational books. This is normal, when real hard times come; you find succor in one thing that keeps you going till the day death comes. That gathering was a reunion centre I hope never to remember or experience again. It all ended in pains. It will stun you that my friend's colleague who never applied for the job not to talk of sitting for the examination is close to marking his 3rd year working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja.

Well this is not where I am heading to, so I urge my readers to grab a chair and a cold drink as I share the ordeals of a Nigerian job seeker. I will briefly discuss the woes of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment of the year 2013 and 2015 after which I will address the recently concluded recruitment process by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). It’s so disheartening that Nigeria operates an anti-people government that lacks vigilance. I remember when NIS mandated job applicants to pay N1, 000 for the recruitment application, a lot of people frowned at it but nothing concrete was ever done to revert it. Some radio stations like the Beat FM in Ibadan used it as a topic to entertain people which gathered much audience. We all murmured like the Israelites against Moses and still paid because a lot of graduates were ageing and pushed to the wall. NIS amassed so much money, got drunk with the proceeds, ignored the alarming size of applicants and decided to organize an examination in a stadium setting with no adequate provisions for a conducive environment or crowd control measures. As expected, there was chaos; a stampede and the children of the masses, the unknown were the usual victims. The Minister of Interior Patrick Abba Moro charged with this responsibility is still in power shamelessly on his 'fart' chair. In a developed setting, such a leader wouldn't wait for the president to sack him but swiftly resign willingly with an emotional apology to the people. It’s on record that Patrick Abba Moro instead went as far as blaming applicants who already had jobs and businesses. Can you imagine? Who doesn't want to progress in life? That's the leadership system practiced traditionally in my country. You will not blame the subordinates when the leader is of no significant difference. President Goodluck Jonathan made a failed promise to compensate the families of those that lost their lives in the NIS mishap with employment as well as monetary facilities. It took him a whole year to redeem his promises driven by motivations of electoral campaign as well as criticisms from APC, the opposition party. That's so sad. This is a bad legacy. What is the offence of the poor? This accounts for the reason why every good man in Nigeria is only being good temporarily to qualify him for a power ticket so that he can expectedly become bad.

NIS and FAAN share many ills in common. FAAN seems to have performed better than the former but both on a scale of failure. Earlier this year, FAAN announced a MASSive recruitment process and as usual, the MASSes rushed out en MASSe to grab the opportunities. (I hope you can notice the similarities of the spellings). Thousands of unemployed and underemployed Nigerian youths applied. It was filled with youths because there were age specifications. The recruitment website of FAAN for registration collapsed as a result of unprecedented traffic that it took weeks for it to be fixed. What do you expect from a country where all hopes are only in the church rather than the government? Till date, nobody knows the criteria FAAN used in shortlisting a small size of candidates for the followed online test. Highly qualified friends of mine who graduated with 2:1 were disqualified and I was selected. A personal research revealed that the computer picked at random. I stand to be challenged if this claim of mine is false. It was a game of luck. Is this a free and fair system? Is our government so clueless that it has taken to gambling? These are rhetorical questions that will NEVER get answers. NIS 2015 recruitment process which is still at the physical fitness and interview stage took the same backward path. NIS recorded more applicants who were severally told to make modifications on their online applications to give them a feeling the applications were strongly being processed. Till date, NIS is yet to provide the criteria used in shortlisting the minute number of candidates for the online test as against the massive size of applications. I got disqualified anyway with just a friend qualifying from my long list of friends that applied.

 FAAN recruitment came with terrible complications which exposed the mediocrity of the web service company awarded the contract of developing a fragile and nearly dead website for recruitment. I was sent my access codes for the Computer-Based Test (CBT). At the scheduled date, I went to the cybercaf√© but I couldn't login till my time expired. It was so dramatic and shameful. I went to a busy cybercaf√©, well dressed and oozing from a borrowed perfume. I ordered for the time and tried accessing the website. I had already read for three straight nights in preparation for the test. In no time after several failed login attempts, I saw myself sweating profusely and calling the attention of everyone to assist me in logging in. In less than an hour, the entire cybercafe's customers were on my case with different ideas about accessing the test portal. It was so embarrassing. Two hours elapsed, I bought an extra time with the amount I budgeted for my transport fare and was forced to trek home under the hot sun on a suit. What an executive manner to suffer! As an African man, I had a feeling that I was being bewitched until I called friends who confirmed the same challenge. It was further confirmed on a Nairaland forum.

 FAAN swiftly circulated apologetic text messages and attributed it to technical hitches. The test was rescheduled. The next test failed too but this time I was already used to the pains. It was nothing.
FAAN shamefully circulated another round of text messages telling applicants to kindly sit for the test at their own 'free time'. After two days, I got bored while using the internet, I visited the recruitment site and successfully I logged on to it to my greatest surprise. The pass mark was 50% and I hit 75% as a graduate security officer (Security Officer II). I was excited; I saved and printed my details for record purposes. Something fishy baffled me; I realized on Nairaland forum that several people that had almost 70% in the test from certain states were disqualified for no definite reasons. They all groaned in pains but had no means of pursuing their claims.

A week later I was invited for a fitness test and interview in Lagos which is outside where I stay. It came with a very short notice. In less than 24hrs I was expected to buy training kits, go for my medicals at the hospital and travel down. With the aid of my parents it got sorted out and I headed for Lagos. The invited crowd in Lagos at the Nigerian Customs Training Centre in Ikeja wasn't that alarming. Nationwide, the rumoured figure of invited candidates were almost 4000 with about less than 500 candidates absent. (They were later rescheduled for another session). The fitness test was hectic. During the fitness test, one officer kept taking pictures of us incessantly with a professional camera which is expected for a window dressing motive. This will be published on media platforms in the nearest future to deceive people that the government has moved to tackle the issue of unemployment in Nigeria with some lazy scholars/debaters using it as a point reference without any concrete investigation of their claims.   

To cut the long story short, the whole exercise was well organized and for the first time in my life I had a short-lived proud feeling of being a Nigerian. I qualified for the final stage which was the interview stage. It was a group interview. A case of 10 people in a set. Another fishy incident came up when the interviewer frowned at me and my colleague when she heard that we are masters degree holders. She had to ask me personally for the school I got it from. My school is quite reputable, actually the number 1 in Nigeria. The 2-day process ended and I returned home patiently waiting to be called for my appointment letter. This came with so much anxiety. My parents celebrated this imminent success with readiness to eat the fruits of their labour. I started having a mental picture of my future and considering getting married at this time next year. This great feeling gave me strength to stand the hardships of Nigeria. My world came crashing 2 months later when FAAN released a list. My name was absent. In compliance with the Federal character provisions, candidates were evenly selected from each state in Nigeria. Just one male was picked from the category of Security Officer II in my state and then matched with a female probably for gender equality. I was bitter but I accepted it in good faith and then, reading further made me realize that no masters degree holder made the security or aerodrome officer list. I probed further and read about the criteria for selection. Shockingly, it was stated that you could be disqualified for OVER QUALIFICATION. This means even if you passed with the highest score but possess MORE than the required qualifications for the post you applied for, you would be disqualified. A postgraduate degree should give any individual an edge rather than a disadvantage. Is our government celebrating mediocrity? On what ground should that procedure be made? Is it a sin to get higher qualifications after the first degree? I wish FAAN could answer these questions. A total of 461 successful candidates were finally shortlisted, an average of 8 per state after the millions at the registration stage. I am glad about the successful recruitment event and I congratulate the individuals shortlisted; but taking a look at reality, 461 candidates out of a country 170 million people with a over 60% unemployment rate is too minute. That is a disaster. A national shame. Any administration or individual that calls it a 'progress' must be using an 'Igbo-made' dictionary. Back to my initial statement, when we chant CHANGE, we should think deep about the reality of this. We will never stop speaking the truth and publicizing the ills of governance in Nigeria even if it will have no definite impact but certainly it will go on record. History will keep taking notes.

The recent barbaric xenophobic attacks in South Africa came as a worldwide shock but certainly it has roots, it was nursed, it was watered, it then germinated, gathered prominence and matured over time. It gave birth to the action of a black man hunting for a fellow black man for no just cause. Without a concrete plan of the ideal CHANGE rather than selfish interests, the Nigerians masses will one day eat the rich as payback for their historical sins.

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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on smile2georgex@yahoo.com Phone number: +2347053302356.
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  1. Most of this job sham and recruitment fallouts happen when you don't have an organized way of arranging this of thatvkind in a country...