by Ajewole Bejide
When in October my wife told me about the Nigeria Immigration Service recruitment, I thought to myself, why not try this and see if I can be lucky. It’s not that I don’t have a source of income but being that what I have is not secured thing, I saw the Immigration job as an opportunity to get a secured and reliable job.
I logged on to the portal, filled the necessary fields and got an acknowledgement slip which is more like a payment advice asking me to pay 1000 Nigerian Naira. The payment was broken down as follows: 850 for application charges and 150 as transaction charges which brings the total to 1000 Naira.
Now as an applicant, I should be turned off with the idea of paying for employment going by my experiences in the past. I had paid 1000 Nigerian Naira for employment as Information Officer 2 (Media) in University College Hospital Ibadan on 9th November 2012 but till this moment, I am yet to get any response. I also paid another 1,000 Nigerian Naira for employment into Federal Medical Center Idi Aba Abeokuta to which we were asked to come for an entrance examination. I waited till 2pm for the exam that was to start by 10am and when there was no sign of seriousness, I left the place to catch an appointment in Akure the next day.
My reservation about the money notwithstanding, I paid the money via debit card on 19th October 2013 and got a payment successful message as well as a validation number. With this number, I printed my acknowledgement slip complete with my photograph and details and waited for the examination.
On Thursday 13th March 2014, I got a text message with the following details ‘Exams into Nigerian Immigration holds Sat Mar 15 2014 at 7am in your preferred exam state. Contact your state command for more info.’ This was coming close to 6 months after the 1000 naira worth application.
On Saturday 15th, I was at the CAC grammar school, Ondo road Akure, venue of the examination as early as 6:20 am and met a large crowd of people in white shirts and shots. I quickly changed to my white shirts and shorts complete with white canvas and socks. There was traffic building on the Ondo road while men of the NIS were on ground to control traffic and the crowd while a handful of them with guns maintained guard.
At some minutes after 8am, the gate of the school was opened and the NIS officials started checking applicants in. This was very slow due to the large crowd and with just 4 or 5 NIS officers doing the check while some with guns were on the fence maintaining security.
At this point, applicants were pushing and shoving one another to get into the school while the NIS officers used horsewhips and belts to maintain orderliness which resulted in more push. After an hour or two, the gates were thrown open when the officers saw that the population of those outside was outrageous and with their pace could not achieve any success all day. At the opening of the gate, the rush to get inside became something else, people pushed and shoved to get to the gate while some ended with bruises and cuts on their legs.
Beside me, a lady was in tears as she struggled to free herself from the crowd pushing and pressing her. I asked if she was pregnant and she responded in the positive, at that point I screamed that a pregnant woman was beside me and needed protection. Thankfully, we were guys surrounding her and so we formed a circle round her and made sure the impact of the push was lesser.
We eventually got in and the lady was taken to a side of the field where she laid on the floor. I saw another lady whose legs were bruised while there were papers, shoes etc on the entrance of the gate apparently lost in the struggle. We were asked to stay by the side while the ladies were asked to come to the main field, the personnel on ground were clearly outnumbered by the applicants, I learnt 11,000 applied in Ondo state and we were clearly close to that figure.
The people on the side of the field seeing that there were some activities going on at the main field decided to jump to the main field, at this the officer with the gun corked his gun and made to scare people but instead the crowd ran to the field while the officer just made way.
On the field, the officials were clearly confused; they were at a loss as to where to start from seeing the sea of heads. They kept giving various conflicting directives and at the end of the day asked that HND and Bsc applicants go to another part of the school while the O level applicants remain on the field.
I moved to the back of the field and there the struggle began again. We were asked to queue up so our acknowledgement slips could be stamped and signed. The pushing and shoving started again, the officers were at a crossroad, things were not working and they obviously had not bargained for this kind of crowd.
A brilliant officer came up with a suggestion that someone collate and submit all slips, this was quickly done and without bothering to check any more details, the papers were stamped with the inscription ‘IMMIGRATION PASS’ and signed with date.
Then the wait started, some were yet to sign and stamp while those who had signed and stamped like me had to wait. The few classrooms were occupied; I had to go to the filling station nearby to relax in a friend’s car. On my way out, I met Mayowa who was a fellow corps member in Rufus Giwa Polytechnic sometimes back. Mayowa told me of his lack of job since passing out in 2012 and said he took to phone repairs but with Techno and other cheap phones, business has been terrible. We were joined by a security guy whom I knew at Alagbaka and another store attendant who both has Bsc.
Outside the school, I heard various stories of how some had graduated and finished NYSC years back but with no meaningful employment. A graduate of one of the private universities in Nigeria said he has been jobless since he finished and even got a masters but situation remained same. The bitterness and agony was obvious, we all knew we probably had no chance of landing the NIS job but we only tried hoping we do land it eventually.
We made our way back to the school at some minutes to 4pm where some sheets of papers were being passed round for people to write their names, qualification, state of origin and other details. The venue for the examination had been sorted out, O level were to have it on the field, OND and HND just behind the field and Bsc in the classrooms on the right. Meanwhile, some people were still struggling to sign and stamp their paper.
At some minutes to 5pm, the O level applicants started the exams; they sat on the floor on the field and wrote while the Bsc applicants started a little later some in the classrooms and a lot more sat on the floor. The HND applicants started much later with some in the classrooms while majority sat on the floor.
The struggle to collect question paper was as intense as that of entering; a lot of questions were torn during the struggle. At some point, an officer was seen pursuing an applicant and when he did eventually catch him, he landed him some slaps and with a kick brought him to the ground. He was whisked away while another commotion was caused by an officer who was alleged to have hit an applicant with his car earlier.
Submitting the papers after the exams was also intense. After submitting, we made our way out and the crowd getting out affected traffic on both sides of the road. We trekked long distance while the rain started to complete the torture. What a day, I paid 1000 Naira to get all these for myself, maybe I’ll learn not to pay another further 1000 for a phony federal job.
Ajewole Bejide is a Nigerian youth whose only desire is a Nigeria where everything works normally. He tweets via @Da_Megadon