It should have been simple: go to school, earn a degree, graduate and secure a job based on your skills and qualifications.
Unfortunately, it’s now more like: get jammed by JAMB a couple of times before getting into school, get struck a million times by FG-ASUU before finally graduating, and then entering the “labour market” hoping to hit the ground running.
Some are able to secure great careers, but then for most young people in Nigeria, it just doesn’t happen. This has encouraged a lucrative job racketeering market aka “pay something if you want a job”. We spoke to five Nigerians about their experience with this market and here’s what they had to say:
“I was asked to pay ₦450k for a ₦55k job”
— Daniel*, 32
I’ve been trying to get a government job for as long as I can remember because I believe it comes with great job security. I also only have a Higher Diploma, so I haven’t been able to get a really good job.
Around 2019, a family friend connected me to someone in a federal parastatal, and he was supposed to help me get a job. Recruitment was lowkey, and he explained that I could only get a grade level six job and that I’d need to claim that I only have a National Diploma in order to qualify.
I agreed to it and was already thanking my stars when I learnt that I would need to “sort the people involved” with ₦450k. Where was I supposed to find that? Even if I got the job, it would be more than one year’s salary.
I begged them that I’d pay part and then pay the rest when I got the job, but they refused.
“I had to do it”
— Nike*, 37
My husband lost his job during the pandemic and hasn’t been able to secure another since then. I suddenly had the responsibility of providing for all our financial needs while earning just ₦60k.
Sometime in April 2021, my uncle introduced me to the person who helped me get my present job at a private firm. I submitted my CV to him and kept following up, but he kept posting me. No one needed to tell me to suggest paying for his help before I did.
He immediate became more responsive and told me plainly that I’d need to pay him ₦100k before he would secure my employment letter, assuring me that my salary would be twice that. I reported it to my uncle, but he advised me to just try it.
I got a loan and paid him, and I still don’t know how he did it, but I got a job offer within the week. I’ve been too scared to try digging into who he paid or how he did it.
“I was scammed”
— Jojo*, 28
Around April/May 2019, I learned that the Nigerian Railway Corporation was recruiting. I applied and miraculously got an interview invite. When I got there, there must have been at least a hundred people present as well.
I couldn’t get interviewed that day or even the day after, and by the third day of pushing sweaty bodies, I was exhausted. Then I noticed a small group of people around this man. Apparently, he was a staff and was gathering a small list of people he could help sort their employment.
To cut the story short, I paid ₦70k but didn’t get the job. Till today, nothing.
“I was asked to pay ₦200k”
— Jack*, 39
This one is even more annoying because the guy that was charging me was supposed to be my friend.
He works in a state ministry, and I badly needed a job in 2021. I shared my problems with him, and he told me there was a quiet recruitment ongoing, and he’d get me a spot if I could pay ₦200k. According to him, he had many people he’d need to settle to ensure my employment.
Well, I didn’t pay and, you guessed it, I didn’t get the job.
“He wanted to date me”
— Precious*, 25
I applied to this accounting firm in November 2021 for a personal assistant role, and I eventually got invited for an interview.
It was a physical interview with the managing director, and this man was legit telling me I’d need to work from his hotel room on Saturdays, all while he was ogling my chest.
I told him I’d be open to working in an open location within reasonable work hours, and he never reached out to me again. It was obvious that I needed to play to his tunes to get the job. He can keep it.
*Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity, and answers lightly edited for clarity.
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