Listening to couple of graduates narrate their ordeal in the hands of the management of the federal government Subsidy Re-Investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) in Lagos state recently, one will definitely be moved into tears going by the trauma and hardship these innocent job seekers were made to go through in the last two years; yet, none of them have been given employment letter let alone salary.
The management of SURE-P in Lagos led by a politician named Alhaji Abdul Razak Rafiu Otto has made life miserable for the graduates who had high hopes of getting employed through the President Jonathan’s SURE-P initiative, is alleged to have been extorting money from applicants through different means for almost 2 years.
Surprisingly, one of the top managers at SURE-P usually called Alhaji was caught pants-down with one of the female applicants doing it right inside his office.
The discovery shook the establishment that management had no choice but to show Alhaji the exit door.
Many road users would have definitely witnessed thousands of job seekers besieging an office by the old Toll Gate close to 7up Bottling Company along the Lagos Ibadan Expressway on daily basis. These job seekers converge every day to either process their employment or training under the SURE-P/FERMA programme. But it will interest the public to know that none of the thousands of heads seen at the SURE-P office has been given a dime for almost 2years; the expected training allowance or salary has become a mirage of sort.
Investigation revealed that top management staff of SURE-P has been selling all free items meant for processing application to the almost 50,000 applicants. The female amongst them are said to be losing in two ways; apart from coughing out their money, they are turned to s ex slaves just because of the promise that their cases will be facilitated swiftly than their male counterpart.
According to some of the applicants approached by SOCIETY REPORTERS, it has become a common knowledge that what SURE-P means to them is nothing but SCAM. One of the people who spoke with us, Kehinde Akeem says “it’s a pity we are being exploited because of our situation, I have paid about N180,000 in almost two years; some of us paid about N300,000 in total. The money we first paid was N35,000 for Federal Road Committee on Surveillance Patrol Against Road Abuse (FERSPARA), we also bought another form from SURE-P for N25,000. We bought Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi FIIRO for N10,000.
Incidentally all these forms were meant to be for free, in fact its written boldly on the forms that ‘Not For Sale’, but because we don’t have choice since we were assured of getting the job, we obliged anything they tell us.”
Another applicant, Biola who corroborated claims by his colleagues says, “I made my wife to close-up her shop because of the money I collect from her regularly to pay all the fees we are being charged; at present my wife is at home now and we strive to live as a family. They promised us jobs, that is why we pay for everything; we paid, N37,500 for SURE-P kits, N2,500 for Vest and Cap, N5,000 for Medical, N10,000 for Identity Card. We did two photo capturing 1,000 for each, in fact there is nothing that we didn’t pay for; I can’t even remember some of them again. Many of the females among us are being messed up daily; they sleep with them and cajole them with empty promises of securing jobs for them, it’s close to two years now and nobody has been given employment letter”
Some of the applicants disclosed that sometimes ago, they had considered staging a protest, but they had to fall in line when a top shot in SURE-P warned them to desist from such act because different weapons were alleged to have been kept inside the offices in case of such uprising.
In another development, We gathered reliably that, the management have made sure all the applicants have been given Permanent Voters Card (PVC) for the forth coming elections and their phone numbers written down to make sure they are persuaded to vote for PDP.
They have equally been told to go home, that they can only be employed if President Goodluck Jonathan is re-elected.
Interestingly, if Gen.(rtd) Mohammadu Buhari emerges as the new Head Of Nigerian States, it means the 50,000 Lagosians that have been made to cough out huge amount will not only lose the money forever but also their hopes will be dashed completely. This reality is because, it has been spelt out to them that they will be employed only if Jonathan retains his seat.
When we tried to reach out to Head of the SURE-P programme in the State Rafiu Otto, he didn’t respond to our calls or even reply text messages.
We will publish all the revealing documents in our next edition.