My Experience with Nigerian Immigration Service Recruitment (NIS)
This is a true life story about my involvement in the 2015 immigration recruitment exercise which President Buhari has now nullified.
Some years ago I visited my hometown in Delta State to spend the vacation. During a political meeting that was held in one of the towns close to my hometown, I had interactions with some councillors and some youth leaders. During that interaction, I discovered that many people were not aware of the two major ongoing federal government recruitments at that time. I was surprise. The one councillor that knew of the recruitments did not care much whether his people were participating or not.
If community political leaders were not aware of such recruitments, how then will youths located in the remote villages along the lower Niger be aware, how much more participate in the process. I did not like this.
Later on I discovered that alot of people located in the rural areas were completely not getting information about ongoing opportunities. Farmers were not getting information on how to access grants and loans and qualified youths were not getting information about public and private recruitments. There was a communication gap and it was quite simple to bridge it. So I decided I was going to build the bridge by establishing an information linkage centre.
I dicided that I was going so set up a small system that would allow me communicate directly to the rural people once there is an opportunity. I will simply send bulk sms to local leaders and the youths whose contact I have and direct them to try their luck on the opportunity and share same with others. I could do that from anywhere, all I needed was to get as many contacts as possible. In the long run, I also planned to establish newspaper vendor stands in as many villages as possible to be managed and funded by the locals. I also had plans to open an information center in my hometown where people could be assisted to process all forms of applications for free. I intended to start with my LGA and then move on to as many LGAs along the lower Niger area as possible. Everything was going to be free of charge to the people. Where applications required little payments from the applicants, I had a strategy I would use to raise funds from the few political leaders I know so that at the end, the local applicants would not have to pay any money or whatsoever. Local politicians will not find it hard to fund our operations as long as Tony Osborg was heading the team.
In 2015, there became an opportunity to test-run the initiative. After the initial Immigration exercise in which some persons lost their lives, the federal government launched annother system to process the immigration recruitment. The new process was far better than the previous one in which people died. Applicants would register online (free of charge), shortlisted candidates would be invited to write computer based exams in different cities, further shortlisted candidates would be invited for physical and health screening afterwhich appointment letters will be issued to the finalists. I liked the process and decided to test run my initiative with this particular immigration recruitment.
I got in touch with one of the youngest serving commissioners in Delta State who is also from my hometown, Mr. Ebifa Ijomah, and the Communication Manager to Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, Mr. Paul Odili, both from my hometown. They both liked the idea. Commissioner Ebifa Ijomah agreed to fund the whole process for the immigration recruitment. Funding was therefore not a problem.
We got started. I got together a small team. We designed and printed several forms and distributed to about 15 out of the 60 councillors of the three LGAs we were to cover and asked them to distribute to their people and return to us within two weeks. We also distributed to community youth leaders.
I was aware of the quota system in practice in Nigeria and suspected that slots might be shared to politicians and LGAs, but all the same, since govt said it was going to be based on merit, I felt my people at that local level should have at least opportunity to participate in the process.
Some of the forms returned. Some with incomplete information. Some we had to call to get more information. Some we disqualified. All we had to call to confirm their email messages. Many did not have email accounts, we created for them until Yahoo and Gmail barred us from creating more emails. It was challenging but we got through that stage and submitted over a hundred applications.
Eight out of the over hundred persons we registered were shortlisted for computer based test in Port Harcourt. We got medical reports from a govt hospital; all paid for. We organized CBT tutorials for a week, transported the short listed persons to Port Harcourt, provided accomodation, and even pocket money. They did not believe what was happening. We ensured that none of the shorlisted persons spent their own money all through the process; courtesy of our sponsor. Soon the exam was over.
Four persons made it through the exam to the next stage; one lady and three guys. They were invited for physical evaluation and document verification after which appointment letters would be issued to the finalists.
I was happy with the whole process. It was truly competitive and transparent, but surprisingly, none of the four persons got final appointment letters. None!
I was heartbroken, disappointed and depressed.
Anyway, I just assumed that maybe all our people failed the physical tests!!! I informed the commissioner about the final outcome and got all the applicants to thank him for his support. We were all disappointed.
Few months after President Buhari took over as President, while the successfull candidates were undergoing training in various states, the Presidency released a statement nullifying the whole immigration recruitment exercise. I was not surprise. President Buhari stated that the recruitment was skewed to favour Jonathan/PDP people so therefore he was sacking all the successful candidates. While this sacking was going on under President Buhari, CBN, FIRS and Nigerian Prisons were secretly recruiting Buhari/APC people into their agencies without even any open competition like the immigration recruitment. This would later be exposed in the media and President Buhari would deny it even in the face of incontrovertible evidence. President Buhari, up till date, did not show any evidence to support his claim that the immigration recruitment was skewed. I would have loved to see how Jonathan/PDP did it since I personally followed the recruitment till the end. Nothing has come up till date.
In as much as I do not know whether Jonathan/PDP skewed the immigration recruitment to their favor, I admired the whole process but remained surprise that none of our candidates made it through to get an appointment letter.
After my experience with the immigration recruitment, I decided to disband the initiative about communicating opportunities to the rural people. I lost interest in the project and still do. Maybe in the future, I could revive the initiative. Maybe.
President Buhari, after failing to show how how the immigration recruitment was skewed to favor Jonathan/PDP candidates, is now considering reversing his nullification of the recruitment after much pressure.
If there is anything I have learnt about Nigeria, it is the simple fact that Nigerian government is a bitch that cannot be trusted by its own citizens.