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By Uche Aguoru
A few days ago the state government through the Local government service commission declared open the purchase of forms for employment at the cost of one thousand naira per document, typical of every hoax transaction, the bait is always tempting, thousands of unemployed Abians began the 1000 naira contribution to the purse of the state government through a dedicated bank account domiciled at ECO BANK PLC with account number 1362002300, while I appreciate the governments seeming intervention through the commissioner for information by coming out with a press release discouraging people from further payment and advising a refund for those who have already paid, but the directive was not enforced as our interaction with the Permanent Secretary of the local government service commission reveals that the directive was not transmitted to the commission either verbally or via any letter and at such they are not aware of any counter directive stopping the sales of such forms, deeper investigation reveals that over twelve thousand job seekers have paid in to that account causing the commission to run out of forms and unable to give out more forms to those that have paid and receipted, while more are still making payments into same account.
While it looks in the surface as a cheering news, My worry in the whole process is that in 2010 Abia state engaged in sale of forms for jobs, it ended up as a scam with those who paid losing their investment and the managers of the fund enriching their accounts with the proceeds from the sale of forms, it’s a familiar scam known to all in the state and this one has not come in a different format except for the volume of sales and the spread of proposed employment windows.
My investigation revealed that each local government was allocated 50 slots for employment with a directive to the council chairmen to accept only recommendations for employment through the stake holders within their local governments at the ratio of 35 for school certificate holders into grade level 1 to 6, while the state will handle the recruitment of graduates into level 7 and above also on testimonial from party stalwarts and government officials , the question that comes to mind is, if the government that has been complaining of over bloated labour force and huge wage bill as reasons for their inability to meet up with monthly salary payments and council staff, secondary and primary school teachers, pensioners and workers in parastatals and agencies are still being owed from three months and above, what is the economic balance in recruiting more staff if you are unable to pay those already in your employ, when employment slots have already been given out to council chairmen with a directive, is it not fraudulent asking gullible Abians to make payments for employment that has already been concluded?
Is the Abia civil service now a criminal enterprise that extorts money from helpless and unsuspecting Abians with the promise of a non-existing job offer, why issue a vague order to the local government service commission on orders of stopping payments without a follow up enforcement order?
Since the job openings as advertised is only 850 slots and with a clear instruction on how the slots will be shared why go ahead to deceive the gullible public into purchasing employment forms, does it not amount to hoodwinking the unemployed and desperate Abian in search of how to make a decent living?
Who authorized the payment of the money and who are the signatories to the account, what was the money meant for abinitio, and what purpose was the fee meant to serve if not for purposes of capitalizing on the frustrations and helplessness of the poor and unemployed to rip them off?
When will the state government come open with a clear and fair employment policy designed to serve the generality of Abians on merit rather than selective treatment based on political party affiliation, fraud and parochialism?
Writes from Umuahia