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Unemployed graduates scammed by fraudsters

By Boluwatife Akinola

In Nigeria, finding a job after graduation has become a tough journey filled with disappointments and unfair treatment. Many graduates share stories about their tough experiences where they encounter people trying to trick them or demand money, or even worse, sexual gratification  in exchange for  job.

At the start of 2023, fewer people in Nigeria were without jobs, as statistics showed unemployment dropping from 5.3 per cent to 4.1 per cent, compared to the end of 2022. But for those who have jobs, some still wanted to work more hours but couldn’t, staying below 40 hours a week. This stayed somewhat similar, around 12.2 per cent, up from 13.7per cent at the end of 2022.

 These numbers, shared by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), showed that many Nigerians mostly work in formal sector or do farming to make money. They’re trying hard to earn a living, even though there aren’t strong systems to help people who don’t have jobs.

Graduates in Nigeria hope for a better future, but often face the harsh reality of job scams. They ended up feeling let down and hopeless when the promises of jobs turned out to be fake or come with unacceptable conditions by the job racketeers.

Job racketeering involves illicit activities where individuals manipulate unemployed people for personal gain, often exploiting job seekers through fraud or deceptive practices. These actions include bribery, extortion, sexual harassment, or promising jobs in exchange for money.

In Nigeria’s public service, the widespread prevalence of bribery and corruption has fostered a grave issue: job racketeering.

One of the most distressing aspects is the recruitment process for government jobs, which is steeped in corruption. Rather than openly advertising job vacancies, applicants are influenced into paying exorbitant amounts to secure positions.

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Shockingly, this is not limited to the federal level; the issue plagues state and local levels as well.

For Nigerian graduates, finding a job is really tough. Even after dealing with money problems and university strikes, getting a job is still really hard. What makes it worse is that many of them ended up being tricked by people promising jobs that don’t actually exist.

It is upsetting how often these graduates face harassment when applying white cover jobs. They are sometimes forced into uncomfortable situations or asked to do things they shouldn’t have to, just to get a job.

Their stories showed how hard it is for them to find work without having to go through unfair and sometimes humiliating experiences. Even though they try to stay hopeful, it’s clear that things need to change so that graduates can find jobs without facing exploitation.

However, unemployment has forced graduates to take up low-paying jobs because they were promised better opportunities by fraudulent job providers. Some of these jobs involve working as event ushers during weekends, earning only N5,000 by serving food and drinks. Unfortunately, some of these menial jobs still involve harassment and bribery.

Interviews with some of these graduates by The Hope has revealed how job racketeers operate and how they a graduate of the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, Opeyemi Akinnanu, who is in her service year, told The Hope how she almost got scammed into joining an ushering team.

 Hear her: “There was a time I wanted to join an ushering team for an event, and the person in charge told me to pay N25,000; I told him I couldn’t raise the money, and he told me he would talk to his boss on my behalf that I should pay part of the payment before I start, then pay the balance when I start the job. I didn’t have the money either, so I decided not to do the job again, but he kept calling and calling me to tell me many people wanted the job, but he chose to give it to me. I told him to give the job to someone else, and he started calling me names. From there, I knew it was a scam.”

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 A Lagos State university graduate Oladimeji Mayor, told Hope about his experience with an organization( name withheld) in Lagos for a customer service post that called him for an interview, which he passed and requested for his two-month half-salary upfront. He declined, and he ventured into forex trading.

 “So I went for this interview with a company. It’s a big company. I did an interview with them, and honestly, they called me and told me I did well. It was the post of customer service representative. So after above two days, I was called and told to come to their office for a second-stage interview. In my own mind, I was happy. When I got to the office, they told me that I did well, but I can’t just get the job like that; I have to do this and that. I was even thinking it’s sleeping with someone and all that.

 “I was told that before getting the appointment letter, I would forfeit half of my two-month salary.”

 Similarly, a female graduate Deborah John, revealed how she got her job in Abuja from a job racketeer via a WhatsApp group chat and forfeited 20 per cent of her first  three month salary.

 “I got my job through that process. She is a woman. She has a WhatsApp group chat where she gathers job seekers. She used to have slots for jobs, so she would post available jobs on the group chat, and whoever meets the requirements sets the job.

 “I did no interview because her work was always automatic, but she would collect 20per cent of your first three months salary,” she added.

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Another graduate, who prefers to remain anonymous, shared her close encounter with sexual harassment while seeking a job. She explained that she posted her job search on her social media platform (Facebook), seeking opportunities. A man responded, offering to take her to his friend’s organization, assuring her he could help secure the job for her.

 “I met a guy on Facebook who said he would help me get a job. He claimed to be a soldier and asked me to come to Sango-Ota. I didn’t have enough money for the trip, but he said he would give me some cash to come. When I got there, he picked me up in his car and said he’d take me to where I would work, but instead, he took me to a hotel. I asked if his friend’s organization was the hotel, and he told me to calm down and follow him. I obeyed because I needed the job.

“Getting to the hotel room, he tried to do things to me that I didn’t want because I thought we were there for a job, not that kind of stuff. I got really scared and cried. Luckily, he stopped and eventually dropped me off, calling me names afterwards,” she disclosed.

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