In Desperation, Job Seekers Pay N48,000 To Enlist In Peace Corps
A money-for-job scandal is brewing in the Nigeria Peace Corps following the report that unemployed youths desperate for employment are being forced to pay a recruitment fee of N48,000 to enlist in the Corps.
LEADERSHIP Friday reports that in anticipation that President Muhammadu Buhari will assent to the Nigeria Peace Corps bill recently passed by both chambers of the National Assembly, the management of the Corps had allegedly embarked on a recruitment spree, collecting the sum of N48,000 from each job seeker wishing to be enlisted into the yet-to-be officially recognised organisation.
While some applicants say employment into Peace Corps is for sale, the organisation says the claim is not true, blaming the sudden hike on the price of recruitment forms on the activities of “black marketers”.
Emerging facts have shown that this exploitation came to its peak with the sudden hike in the purchase of the form from N1,500 to N8,000 .
LEADERSHIP gathered that applicants seeking to be enlisted in the Corps are asked to obtain an enlistment form at the cost of N8, 000 and to pay N40, 000 for kits and training.
The recruits are also made to pay another N10, 000 for boots and an additional N2,000 each for active handbook as well as N1, 000 for those who could not provide certificates of medical fitness.
LEADERSHIP learnt that, so far, the organisation had completed its recruitment exercise in Masaka, Angwandadi in Nyanya (for residents in Abuja and Nasarawa State), Lagos, Kaduna and other states, where over 60,000 applicants were recruited upon evidence of the payment of the stated amount.
The letter entitled, “Staff Officers’ Provisional Enlistment,” is said to be issued to applicants.
The letter reads in part: “Following your performance, including medical, at the interview conducted for admittance into the staff officers’ cadre of this Organisation, we hereby notify you of your provisional enlistment, which you will be required to participate in a four-week initial training and orientation.
“Admittance into the camp is subject to the payment of a highly subsidised camp registration fee of N40, 000, payable at the branch of the Zenith Bank in favour of Peace Corps Nigeria, with Account No. 1014255246.
“Please note that the reason for payment of the above subsidised fee is due to the high number of youths absorbed into this Corps as a result of our commitment toward making our unemployed youths to be fully engaged.”
The letter, signed by Mrs. Omolola Amao on behalf of the National Commandant, further reads: “Be informed that the camp will be an open exercise; as such, you are required to take care of your feeding and also come along with other necessary sporting wears.”
LEADERSHIP Friday’s investigation revealed that this is not the first time the yet-to-be officially recognised Peace Corps is extorting money from jobseekers under the guise of offering them placements in its non-existing offices across the country.
Reports also have it that two years ago, the Peace Corps, headed by Dickson Akor, who goes by the rank of national commandant, collected the sum of N50,000 each from some desperate job seekers when it conducted a fake recruitment exercise in some state capitals.
Months after rigorous military training, the youths were asked to pick the states of the choice but were never assigned or posted to any office. After several visits to the Peace Corps office in Abuja, the frustrated “recruits” gave up on the purported jobs.
When contacted on the allegations, the public relations officer of the Corps, Millicent Umoru, explained that to check the activities of black marketers, NPC now ensures that no applicant gets more than one form.
She stated that as an additional strategy to curb the illegal trade of the N8000 forms, the management cross-checks the names and serial numbers of those who pick their forms.
Umoru revealed that the Corps had not only investigated indicted officers but dismissed them in order to serve as deterrent to others.
She made clarifications on the N40,000 payment for the recruitment exercise, saying that the money is meant for training materials, kits, one-month accommodation and medical care for recruits in camp.
She noted that apart from subsidising the uniform and other kits for successful recruits, the aim of issuing kits to is to help check the purchase of unmatched colour material and low quality cloth material among others.
Umoru, however, could not tell the number of applicants PCN had so far recruited.
She said, “I don’t want to give you wrong statistics because we are still recruiting. We are presently carrying out verification and documentation of successful applicants; I can only give the figure when the exercise is concluded.”
She expressed optimism that screened and documented applicants whose vitals are in their data base will become full employees of the Peace Corps once the bill is assented to by the president.
An applicant (names withheld), who claimed to have sold his father’s goats to raise the recruitment fee, said :”This scandal is the worst kept secret. I am shocked that rather than work towards alleviating poverty, they are making desperate job seekers miserable.”
Another applicant who is currently undergoing training in a neighbouring state to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), said that the N40,000 he paid was given to him by an uncle, adding that some desperate youths may have to steal to raise the money.
Other applicants who spoke with LEADERSHIP on condition of anonymity regretted that months after completing the recruitment exercise and payment of the stipulated money, the Corps had not offered them jobs.
Many of the enlisted applicants that had undergone the training upon the payment of the stipulated N41, 500 are still waiting for the bill to be passed so that they can be gainfully employed.
They have, however, expressed the fear that once the bill is assented to, employment slots approved by the federal government will be sold to job applicants while others may be allocated to some top politicians in breach of due process.
They called on the Senate and the anti-fraud agencies in the country to wade into the issue of money-for-job scandal, just as they urged the Senate to mandate its Committees on Federal Character and Employment, Labour and Productivity to investigate allegations of kickbacks in the employment processes
LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that while the House of Representatives passed Peace Corps bill on June 8, 2016, the Senate passed its own version on November 24, five months later.
The passed bill gives approval for the establishment of the Nigeria Peace Corps as an agency under the Ministry of Interior.
Both chambers expressed the view that the establishment of the Corps will benefit Nigeria and create employment for the nation’s teeming unemployed youths.