EXCLUSIVE: Unemployment: Buhari Has Placed Embargo On Civil Service Recruitment Since May 2020, Cites COVID-19

President Muhammadu Buhari has suspended recruitment into the federal civil service since May 2020, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, thereby stagnating the opportunities available for the already teeming unemployed population.

SaharaReporters learnt that the President, by a memo through the Office of the Head of the Service of the Federation, approved the suspension of the recruitment.


The Federal Civil Service Commission, the body responsible for the recruitment, promotion and other issues relating to the civil service, also confirmed the development saying the OHSF in a letter dated May 15 gave the directive and the embargo had not yet been lifted.

The FCSC in a memo obtained by SaharaReporters stated that the agency did not recruit and would not recruit until a waiver was granted, while warning Nigerians about fake appointment letters.

The memo was signed by Babaoye Eniola, Director of Press and Public Relations Unit, saying “Section 153(1) of the 1999 Constitution, of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vests the commission with the power to appoint persons into offices, to promote such officers in line with the laid down procedures as well as to dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding such offices.”

The FCSC memo said, “On the issue of fake letters of appointment, the commission has spread out her tentacles to combat it maximally. Some of the steps taken include: the display of flex-banners in every nook and cranny of the commission’s complex.

“On recruitment, the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation forwarded a letter, dated May 15, 2020, of the general suspension of recruitments into the Public Service by Mr. President as a result of the effects of COVID-19 on the Federal Government’s revenue projections.

“Thus, the FCSC did not and will not recruit until waiver is granted by the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.”  

In November 2020, the Nigerian economy slipped into its second recession in five years as the gross domestic product contracted, going by a report from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The NBS had announced that the country’s GDP recorded a negative growth of 3.62 per cent in the third quarter of 2020.

It is Nigeria’s second recession since 2016, and the worst economic decline in almost four decades.

The World Bank also forecast the Nigerian economy would contract by 3.2 per cent in 2020, assuming the spread of COVID-19 was contained by the third quarter.

But the country is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics’ (NBS) Labour Force Survey, Nigeria’s unemployment rate was 27. 1 percent in the second quarter (Q2) of  2020, indicating about 21,764,614 (21.7 million) Nigerians unemployed.

The 27 percent is four percent higher than the 23 percent reported in the third quarter (Q3) of 2018. 

Nigeria’s unemployment and underemployment rate (28.6%) is a combined 55.7%. This means the total number of Nigerians who are unemployed or underemployed as at 2020 Q2.

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Saharareporters, New York

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