Ejuma was excited when she had the opportunity to be employed by the Peace Corps of Nigeria last year. What made it even better was that she would be posted to Kaduna State where she grew up.
It wasn’t that she didn’t have a job. Her job with a electricity distribution company in Jos was not convenient to her. Thing is, she wanted to be close to her old mother living in Kaduna to be able to take care of her very well.
Everybody was happy for her. And many people, mostly siblings, and family members, pitched in with whatever money they had to help her get the job.
At the time last year, the Senate had already passed the bill that would make the Peace Corps the latest agency in the government.
The only thing that remained was harmonization of the bill by both houses of the National Assembly before being taken to the President to be signed into law.
The idea that the Nigeria Peace Corps would be the saving grace of unemployed youths was the rave last year. Somehow, was started as a voluntary organization has turned into a national debate.
The commandant of the organization, Ambassador Dickson Akoh, had used all his contacts in and out of government to create a powerful buzz that convinced lawmakers the country needed to fund his organization.
As for Ejuma, after paying over a 100k to the people who promised her a management job in the organization, she was asked to go home and wait for deployment soon.
She resigned from her job and went back to Kaduna to wait for the letter. She waited and waited. It took a while before she realized no job was forthcoming. She had been scammed.
Many unemployed youths around the country fell for the same scam too. This scam had nothing to do with the real Peace Corps of Nigeria though. Some clever con artists had taken advantage of the situation to promise jobs to people like Ejuma who didn’t know any better.
However, even those that went through official Peace Corps channels don’t have a better story to tell. They were ordered to pay a sum of 40k after buying the registration form.
The payment of 40k entitled the applicant to attend a 3 weeks training camp where they would be provided with training kits and go through some rudimentary military training. This is in addition to orientation on what is expected of a Peace Corps member.
Thousands of Nigerians paid the 40k on the strength of the passage of the bill in the National Assembly. And after the harmonized version of the bill was adopted in November 2017, still more rushed in to pay up as a means of getting employed.
As noted several times by Nigeria News, in a country suffering from serious unemployment, the desperate unemployment situation made 40k is considered small price to pay get a job in a Federal agency.
The catch for all those who paid and were trained was this: There was no job yet for them. They were told, like Ejuma, to go home and wait to be posted. They didn’t mind though, after all, President Buhari would soon sign the bill and make it law.
Peace Corps of Nigeria: obvious scam?
Ambassador (Dr.) Dickson Akoh is the head of the organization. He counts among his personal friends, ex-Senate President Senator David Mark. With such a strong string to the center of power, it is no wonder he was able to convince the National Assembly to commit time and resources to the idea of another paramilitary agency in the country.
At a point during the debate of the bill in the National Assembly, there were reports that Akoh had been going around lobbying powerful legislators.
There is nothing wrong with lobbying though. But in Nigeria, lobbying implies giving out huge bribes. We all know that.
David Akoh and his top officers denied giving bribes to anybody. Legislators too denied it. That is to be expected as nobody ever comes out to admit accepting or giving out bribes to influence government decisions.
But if Akoh were to go down that route, getting the funds wouldn’t be a problem. Remember, thousands of Nigerians were paying 40k each to get that job.
And another thing many people don’t know is this; once you are a confirmed Peace Corps member, you have to keep on paying regular membership dues. In other words, Akoh had access to millions of naira to bribe anybody if he wanted to.
Apart from bribes, other reports emerged that the commandant made some concessions to the legislators if they succeeded in passing the bill and making it law. For instance, he promised to make hundreds of job slots available to them to give to whoever they wanted.
Legislators use opportunities like these to give jobs to their constituents. In effect, many people that didn’t pay that 40k would have been employed by the Peace Corps of Nigeria.
In any lecture on how to spot a scam job offer, applicants are told that anybody that demanded money from them before giving them jobs is a con artist. There would be no job waiting for them at the end of the day.
The problem many people had with Dickson Akoh is that he kept collecting 40k from hapless people assuring them of a job. He knew for a fact he couldn’t guarantee they would get a job even if the Corps was made a federal government agency. What was his game?
(read conclusion here)