Final extract from my new book titled…Corruption Stop It!..Let my people go
Theodora left home early on the day of oral interview without eating breakfast. She did not want a repeat of what happened last time. The venue was crowded with job seekers and she wondered if everyone passed the aptitude test. They were called in threes into a room for the interview. Suddenly she heard a loud call out: Theodora Tom! She looked up and was directed to another room. Entering, she saw the manager who came out the other day to usher her into the aptitude test.
“How are you Theodora?” he asked smiling.
“I am cool,” she replied as she sat down.
“Your surname sounds foreign. Are you Nigerian?” he asked.
“Proudly Nigerian. Tom is my dad’s first name. I chose it as my surname to beat the Nigerian Factor.”
“What’s this factor all about? I have heard it so many times.”
“I can explain,” said Theo. “Your surname gives away your tribe, race, language, or religion instantly. Nothing wrong with it in societies where merit rules. But where merit is ignored, your name can work against you. Decision makers in such societies do not consider people for jobs, appointments, promotions, admissions, enlistments, or contracts based on merit, ability, performance, qualifications or competence. They demand bribe. They think tribe, religion, or geographic representation. The best no longer wins. Sometimes, a family quarrel can create the need to draw the line by changing surname. People believe a family curse that cripples life can cling to a surname. Your best bet is to drop it and take cover under a Biblical, American, or English name. Young people now want an identity that makes them stand out in the crowd. Increasing numbers of youths now use a stage name or their father’s first name to get attention, or scale over barriers of obscurity, tribalism, religious sentiments, and spiritual tangles. Check out the names of footballers, musicians, comedians, and actors and actresses in Nigeria’s movie industry branded Nollywood, you will understand what I mean.”
“What’s in a name? Maybe it’s all about branding. My name is Jack Jonki. You can call me JJ, I call you TT. I am in charge of this recruitment exercise. You did very well in the aptitude test even though you started late. Congrats.”
“Thank you Sir,” Theo replied as her face cheered up. “So, does it mean I am as good as getting the job? I was called into a separate room.”
“I asked that you be sent here for a private talk. You can get the job if you agree to my terms. You see, there are too many applicants for the available spaces. Many girls out there are throwing themselves at me to get a job. But I am not interested. I make my choices.”
The cheer on Theo’s face faded into worry. She did not expect this. But she tried to compose herself and look confident. This job might not come easy after all; something is amiss, she wondered. “So, is getting this job by performance or some other considerations?” She asked.
“All of the above,” Jack answered. “I like you a lot. Your hips trip me and you are portable. When I set my eyes on you the other day, I allowed you to do the test. I would have turned you back. If you agree to become my girl, you will get the job. And as long as you submit to me, I will protect your interest. Try and see me at City Guest House on Saturday night if you want this job.”
“No!” Theo declined. “Not every girl can play this game. I expect performance to be the basis for giving jobs, not favors. Besides, you must be a married man, and ….”
“Stop talking like a child,” Jack cut her short. “This is not a game but a deal. Nobody is playing games here. We are here for serious business. Think and grow up. A big girl like you should understand the market. There are few jobs in the country. Most of the applicants out there are as good as you, if not better. I am making you an offer to use what you have to get what you want. This gives you an edge over the crowd waiting there. If you don’t agree to my terms, you can forget the job. Period!”
“Sir, I cannot use my…my…body to get a job,” Theo stammered. Why did I go to school? Please give me this job. You just said I per…per…performed very well in the test.” She was downcast. Her stammer betrayed her fears. Jack noticed it and pressed on to break her will power.
“Well, the lesson here is that certificates alone cannot get you a job these days. They cannot take you the extra mile. For beginners like you, a Masters or professional qualification may not even be an advantage. You have to top them up with something extra to give you the edge in your job search. Many girls waiting out there would gladly jump at my offer. But you are proving stubborn. Think about it and get back to me. Give me your phone number?”
“My number is on my application form. In any case, I am not interested in your offer. You can keep your job,” Theo said dejectedly as she stood up to leave.
“Well, please yourself. But if you change your mind, you can get back to me. The sooner, the better,” Jack said.
Three hours after she left home, Theo walked into the family sitting room, slumped on the settee and burst into tears.
“What’s the problem my angel,” her mom asked.
“The manager said I must sleep with him before I get this job.”
“W-h-a-a-a-t!” Her mom screamed. “This is sexploitation!”
“Mom, whatever you call it, that is what this man wants. A terrible looking short and bald man. He is so ugly.”
“You mean he told you this. Did anybody hear it?’
“No mom. He called me into his office and told me point blank. He said if I don’t yield, I will not get the job.”
“God, what is happening in the job market? This is not the first time I am hearing this. Many girls have been victims and nothing is being done to stop it.”
“Mom, he told me they have more candidates for the available spaces. He took a strong liking for me on the day of the aptitude test. He said he really likes my petit size and curved hips. I pleaded with him to let go of his request and let me get the job all the same, he refused. He made it clear that many girls are throwing themselves at him but he is not interested. However, he is so deeply interested in me that he wants us to start a romantic relationship. And as long as I submit to him, he will protect my interest in this job.”
“And what did you tell him?”
“I told him to keep the job. He told me to please myself.”
“Well done. Now I understand why this company’s name is GoJobs,” Theo’s mom observed. “The jobs they offer are always on the go, never permanent. It is hard to get the job, but easy to lose it. They go-job you. The employment market in this country has become very difficult for youths. Who will rescue them from the vicious grip of unemployment? What are our leaders doing to provide jobs for the people? Years ago, jobs were going to qualified bidders. Later, they shifted to preferred bidders. Now they have negotiated a bend to desperate bidders as represented by these girls throwing their bodies at this man. Let him keep the job. God will make a way for you.”
Theo rested her head on her right hand as she brooded over her fate. She began to cry as her mom stood and watched her helplessly. “Time is going. I am not getting younger. I can’t get a job, I can’t get a husband. Suitors no longer want to marry jobless brides. What am I going to do to get a job? How can I get a husband? I can’t start sleeping with men now. They will destroy me before I get married,” the frustrated young girl sobbed.
(16 October 2013)
Eric Okeke is a CSR specialist and strategist in brand marketing and mobilizing support for corporate and social issues. He is the brand storyteller, writer, speaker, author and media consultant, with training in chemistry, marketing and business journalism. As a business writer and speaker, he has recorded a good career in media consulting and journalism which he started at The Guardian, Lagos.
Eric’s communications niche is storytelling which he is now using to empower professionals and improve business returns in Nigeria. Email him at, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Tel +234 803 301 4609; +234 817 301 4609.