A privately-owned national television station in Lagos, which is popularly perceived to be among the best in the country, seems to have made its operational policy to recruit interns of various levels of academic qualification and convert them to domestic workers without any form of remuneration or stipends.
The engagement negates the original plan to provide them with opportunity to acquire hands-on skills in the field of broadcasting and other studio experience.
Internship is seen as an opportunity offered by an employer to potential employees or students in training to work at a firm for a fixed, limited period of time. Interns are usually undergraduates or students, and most internship last for any length of time between one week and 12 months.
The particular TV station appears to be taking advantage of the high number of students and graduates seeking placement with it, and after subjecting such applicants to rigorous entrance tests, the best of them are selected on conditions of “No Pay,” just as they look forward to acquiring relevant practical skills as their only benefit throughout their relatively short stay.
The absence of remuneration could be considered as the least of their worries as they are soon made to settle into such a hostile and inhuman work atmosphere, where they are engaged in work activities that could only be likened to that of indentured slaves.
Speaking with New Telegraph, some interns, who are attached to the television’s newly launched breakfast show, revealed that the management of the organisation, which is said to be headed by a Caucasian, deliberately refused to engage blue-collar employees, such as cleaners, stewards, janitors, or even office assistants. This is because interns are made to do such odd jobs.
One of the interns, who just obtained her Post-Graduate Diploma in Mass Communication, was a victim of this slavish engagement. As part of the requirements for her post-graduate programme, she was unfortunate to have secured a space to work as an intern with the television house under a contract, which is meant to last for four months. She had barely spent three weeks when she turned in her resignation, as she could no longer bear the inhumanity that was meted out to her and her colleagues.
She said, “We got into the organisation with the aim of learning the art of broadcasting, we ended up as janitors. We were made to resume work at 6:30am and we were expected to close by 6pm every work day. “They made us to clean dishes, mop floors, serve tea and even clean the toilets. Efforts to protest were met with all forms of intimidation, such as threat to fire us, or summoning us to various disciplinary panels, where we were talked down on like slaves. We never got to learn anything about the job for which we were engaged.”
Another intern on a different TV programme with the same organisation, Miss Aminat Busari, a graduate of Lagos State University, and also an alumnus of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, also narrated her ordeal.
She said: “Interns are treated with disdain by the staff and management of that station. We are not allowed near any of the production activities, except on occasions where we are expected to run errands for them or clean up their mess. It is a place where you are made to lose your self-esteem and confidence. Students should be advised to look elsewhere for their internship, rather than coming here to be used for odd jobs.”
A mid-level official of the media house, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said, “The management refuses to provide cleaners or office assistants to do those menial jobs. You don’t expect a staff like me to get to the office in the morning and start to dust my desk or make my tea. Those are jobs meant for low level staff and the people available to do that here are the interns.