Nigeria's government has launched a mass online recruitment drive to offer training and employment opportunities to young people. The initiative has been met with enthusiasm, and a fair bit of frustration from users trying to access the site.
The Nigerian government is hiring. The state rolled out an online recruitment tool, N-Power, this month and said it will hire half a million university graduates to work across the country in various sectors, mainly health, education and agriculture. The site also advertises job training for non-graduates in areas like animation and technology.
But job applicants say there is a problem. The web site keeps crashing.
Usman Mohammed, 25, has a master's degree in environmental management, and it turns out he had the right URL: N-Power.gov.ng.
“Well I have been experiencing some difficulties. For more than three days now, whenever I try to login, I’m facing error problems. So I even think that maybe the website is not correct," said Mohammed. “The problem did not change. But maybe I’m thinking if I try again today maybe I will be among the lucky people to access the website.”
Sometimes, clicking the register link brings up an error message. Other times, the register link is not available at all.
Try again in a few minutes. That’s the advice the N-Power team is offering through its official Twitter handle. But 42 percent of users responded to a survey last week to say that they cannot submit an application.
The National Bureau of Statistics says about a fifth of Nigerians below the age of 34 are unemployed.
The heavy traffic reflects the thirst for opportunity in Africa’s most populous nation, but some, like Bulus Mungopark, who lives in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, are still skeptical.
“Yes, I’m skeptical about it, because over all these years, there’s nothing that shows Nigeria is even ready to employ youth,” said Mungopark.
The government said 400,000 Nigerians registered on N-Power in the first 36 hours. And the site has received over 35 million hits. It’s a virtual stampede.
Previous government recruitment schemes have led to actual stampedes.
In 2014, seven people were killed when tens of thousands of Nigerians flocked to the National Stadium in the capital of Abuja to apply for jobs at the immigration department. In 2008, another job recruitment exercise left 12 people dead.