Posted on :
15 Apr, 2011
15 Apr, 2011
As graduate unemployment bites harder, some dubious recruitment agencies in urban areas are smiling to the bank as they exploit desperate job seekers. MOTUNRAYO ABODERIN in this report, highlights the antics of these firms and what job seekers should look for before patronising a job recruitment agency.
Graduates in Nigeria are losing out on two ends. While unconfirmed statistics indicate that three out of 10 graduates in the country are unemployed, some of them have become commercial motorcycle operators and petrol attendants just in a bid to make a living. To add to their frustrations, some smart but dubious recruitment agencies are capitalising on their woes to exploit them under the guise of securing profitable jobs for them.
Investigations conducted by our correspondent revealed that many graduate job seekers were falling victims of these tricksters, who operate in urban areas such as Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. In Lagos, for instance, some of the graduates who spoke with our correspondent on their experience, narrated different tales of woes. According to them, some alleged fake recruitment firms collect N2, 000 for registration and make them to write aptitude test with a promise to secure employment for them in some profitable companies. But to their chagrin, these agencies most often fail to deliver their promises.
Some of these recruitment agencies, according to investigations, realise about N200,000 per day. One of the victims, Miss Seun James, who graduated from the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, with a degree in Clothing and Textiles, alleged that she was fleeced by a job recruitment agency known as Esther Breakthrough, because of her desperation to beat unemployment.
“After hearing about EBT from a friend, I logged on to their website and filled out their form. Immediately I completed the form, I received a mail within a few minutes, saying that I’ve been scheduled for an aptitude test for that weekend. When I arrived at their office at around 9am, there were so many applicants there already. We were over 200. Then a man came and asked us to queue up. We actually thought we were being ushered into a hall that would contain us all, but to our surprise, the office where we had to write the test was very small. So, every 30 minutes, about 20 to 30 applicants would go in to write the test.”
James continued, “When it was finally my turn, I got into the office, then there was this man that just started shouting at us like we were kids telling us to fill in our correct details. Later that day, I now received a text congratulating me on my success in the test. At that moment something suspicious then happened. In that text, they said I got 71.7 per cent, and that I should come on Monday with N2, 000 to collect a recommendation letter. Apart from the money, another thing that made me suspicious about EBT was, just when I got the text, my flat mate who also wrote the test got a text saying she got 71.7 per cent. Apparently, they didn’t know that we were staying together.”
Mr. Bimbo Samuel’s story with EBT was not any different. Bimbo, who graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, said he was shortlisted for a test but was shocked when the firm told him that he would only be allowed to participate in the screening after the payment of N2,000.
“I thought that was unfair. They didn’t inform us about the money; maybe we would have come prepared. I thought if I failed to write the test, all my efforts would be in vain, so I gave them all that I had on me. Some days later, I received a text from them saying that I passed the test, and that I should come to their office to collect my recommendation letter. But after the money issue, I was already discouraged. I didn’t want to get there and be forced to pay some money again. I had also heard so many negative reports about the company that suggested that it was fake, and that it only offers recommendation letters, which do not guarantee that you would even get the job.”
Samuel also narrated another experience, but this time it was his friend, Mr. Kehinde, who was involved. He said that Kehinde was only given a recommendation letter that reads, “We at EBT recommend this individual for the job.” This letter does not guarantee that they will be given the job. So if the company refuses to give you a job, the applicant will have to return to EBT to get another recommendation letter.
Samuel said a job seeker was not likely to get preference because there were hundreds of people like them on the list.
But when THE PUNCH visited EBT, the firm’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Sunday Udeme Okon, denied all these allegations, saying that he was not running a fake organisation neither was he collecting money from jobless graduates without providing jobs for them.
He also had all the company’s documents including the list of successful applicants who, according to him, were granted jobs for 2010.
He said, “I’m not threatened by the sort of negative remarks written about EBT. When you are doing well, people will always criticise you and look for faults. This is not the first time I am being accused. I have been arrested and taken to the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, but at the end of the day, I win. So I’m not threatened.”
EBT, he said, had been in existence since 2000, adding that the firm only provided link between companies and clients. “We help source for jobs for the unemployed. I have no other reason running this company other than to provide service. In 2010 alone, I provided jobs for about 100 candidates.
But in spite of Okon’s denial, other jobless graduates insisted that EBT always presented half-truths to its clients.
For instance, Miss Rachel Olabode, a graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State, said that the firm only had some faceless and possibly unregistered companies as its clients. “We don’t expect to get recommendations to big multinational companies, but at least the companies chosen should be on the average side. We are being sent to companies that are totally unrealistic. Imagine being sent to a company to be a freelance marketer, and at the end of the first month, you will still have to give EBT 20 per cent of your first salary. He says he has provided jobs for over 100 applicants, but if on Friday alone, he gets over 200 applicants, that means in a year he would have about 20,800 candidates since he operates only two days per week. And he only succeeded in getting jobs for just 100 applicants, what happened to the rest, and where has their money gone?”
Another company making waves, but on the negative side, according to some graduates, is Primesavic Solutions, located somewhere in Ikeja, Lagos. Our correspondent, who visited the office a few weeks ago, discovered that the firm was operating from a boy’s quarter, where a receptionist directed our correspondent to another lady, a senior officer of the company. The lady after discovering that our correspondent is a journalist, refused to grant interview relating to the complaints that some of the jobless graduates had raised against the firm.
One of the affected jobless graduates, Mr. Daniel Ajayi, who also studied Zoology at OAU, narrated the ordeal he was subjected to by the firm. He said lack of jobs in the country had led to the creation of so many fake recruitment firms. However, he advised job seekers to be wary of these companies.
“There is an upsurge of fake human resource consulting firms and a number of these new consulting firms are in search of money, not service. These organisations are feeding on the desperate nature of unemployed graduates. They make you feel like you will be given a job but that is a lie. Graduates need to be at alert. A good consulting firm is not meant to collect money before giving you a job in my own opinion. A real consulting firm will get you the job, then later require that you pay specific amount of your salary once you receive your first paycheck.”
It will be recalled that the Imo State government once asked interested unemployed graduates to pay N10,000 to a recruitment firm jointly floated by the government and a private firm. This money was for mere registration and did not in any way guarantee employment.
Some Nigerians who spoke with our correspondent said that unemployed graduates kept falling into the hands of fraudulent companies because of inadequate jobs.
“On the streets of urban centres like Lagos, you will find hundreds of job seekers frantically moving up and down in search of jobs. The sad note is that most of these fake consulting firms post their adverts in newspapers, which help to promote their authenticity. So, you cannot blame jobless undergraduates for falling victims of these dubious people,” one of them, Mr. Fola Adigun, said.
Speaking on the issue, the Managing Director, Ashton Consulting, Mr. Johnson Ojo, said that job seekers should not patronise any firm that first makes monetary demand on them. He also said that it would be difficult to stop the illegal practice because a significant percentage of these fake recr uitment firms already had a strong link with the police.
“These fake recruitment firms cannot be easily brought down. Some of them have been operating for years, so they have already created a strong bond with the police. It’s just left for graduates not to fall prey to these fake recruitment firms,” he said.
Ojo said that the business had a lot of risks. “In this business, you either find fake recruitment firms or graduates who have a negative intention to rip off genuine recruitment firms. I cannot begin to count how much I’ve lost from graduates who get employed through the agency but refused to pay the 30 per cent of their one month salary as agreed. I don’t require any other fee from the graduates who apply to the agency apart from the 30 per cent of their one month salary. But still some of these applicants refuse to pay the 30 per cent after the agency provides them with a job. That is why I say there are a lot of risks involved in this business. It is either the graduates are cheated or we the employers get cheated.”
Meanwhile, THE PUNCH gathered some information from applicants about how a typical test is being conducted. When you apply to EBT, a notification via text is sent to your phone asking you to come to its office with your curriculum vitae, no mention of you paying any money. On your arrival, you are greeted by a caliber of young-looking members of staff who counsel you on how the organisation operates. According to some sources, kind phrases such as ‘don’t worry you will make it, the Lord will grant your heart desires’ are used to make you feel relaxed.
On the day of the test, which takes place every Friday and Saturday, over 200 applicants are made to queue-up at the office. A neighbour to EBT who chose to remain anonymous, said the queue goes as far as the main road, sometimes obstructing traffic. Under the scotching hot sun, these desperate graduates are made to stand for over an hour, because the room where the exam is being written can’t contain them all.