Jonathan, Tambuwal furious over job seekers’ death
There was outrage yesterday over the death at the weekend of no fewer than 19 Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) job seekers at the recruitment centres.
About 520,000 applicants were programmed to undergo tests at various centres across the country on Saturday.
There were only 4,556 openings and each of the job seekers paid N1,000. They bought Tee shirts for N500 each at the centres.
The deaths occurred at the centres during stampede as a result of the poor crowd management. Among the dead are four expectant women.
The body count include: Abuja (eight), Port Harcourt (five), Minna (three) and Benin (three).
A report yesterday said two (both women) died at the Kano centre.
Seven of the over 20, 000 applicants at the Indoor Sports Hall of the Sani Abacha Stadium, were injured.
The NIS spokesman in Kano, Ahmed Lawal Kanoma, denied the deaths. He said: “No person died at the venue of the examination.
“The only thing that happened was that two female and five male applicants sustained injuries during a stampede and were treated and allowed to sit for the exam.”
Some applicants recalled that there was “a sudden surge, which led to the collapse of two female job seekers. One of them – an expectant woman, suffocated and became unconscious.
Minister of Interior Abba Moro, whose ministry supervises the NIS and indeed the recruitment, chided the victims.
He said: “The applicants lost their lives due to impatience. They did not follow the laid down procedure spelt out to them before the exercise. Many of them jumped through the fences of affected centres and did not conduct themselves in an orderly manner to make the exercise a smooth one. This caused stampede and made the environment unsecured.”
The test in Lagos was cancelled.
President Goodluck Jonathan, House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, senators, the All Progressives Congress and others were angry.
Dr. Jonathan reportedly demanded an explanation from the minister of Interior.
The President was said to be in receipt of how the Ministry of Interior outsourced the recruitment to Drexel Nig. Limited.
Also, there were indications yesterday that a top NIS official has been queried.
Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) demanded Moro’s prosecution.
It called for the immediate dismissal of NIS’s top officials and the Federal Ministry of Interior.
The President was unhappy with security reports and personal findings on the recruitment module adopted by the NIS.
A source said: “The President, who was personally devastated by the incidents, demanded an explanation from the Minister of Interior on what went wrong.
“The minister and the Nigeria Immigration Service are expected to turn in their responses latest by Monday (today).”The mood at the Presidential Villa was bad and heads may roll where any case of negligence or tardiness is established.
“All other security agencies and para-military organisations involved in the process have turned in their reports.”
Another top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Ideally, in a nation where there is conscience, the minister ought to have turned in his resignation on Saturday night.
“The international embarrassment created for Jonathan administration by the death of these innocent souls does not warrant those in charge to remain in government.
“The minister’s comments did not help matters. He was busy blaming the applicants for the stampede.”A Presidency source said: “Last year the Ministry of Interior under Abba Morro outsourced the recruitment into the Nigerian Immigration Service to a company, Drexel Nig Limited. Over 700,000 (734,000 actually) applied, and paid N1000 to the company.
“Last week, the Minister instructed the NIS to conduct the placement test for those that applied.
“NIS was said to have applied for funds to conduct the recuitment but the company replied that funding the test was not part of the agreement. NIS couldn’t pay for any of the venues as at 9 am on Saturday.
“At the Abuja National Stadium, for instance, while the applicants had massed at the gate from 6 am, the Service could only pay the Stadium authority about 10am and the gates were thereafter opened, hence the surge and stampede.
“If the ministry and the consultants had allowed us to conduct our interview the way we normally do it, we would have segmented it into categories of vacancies, with different dates in different zones. How do you conduct a test for over 700,000 people for 4,560 vacancies in one day? What was the work of the consultants? Couldn’t they have shortlisted the applicants.
“If someone collected that much money, he should take pains to screen their certificates, their ages and other requirements and weed out the unqualified. And how do you ask an organisation to conduct the test of that magnitude without a kobo?”
It was gathered that the minister and top officials of NIS were battling to save their jobs.
“There is no way heads will not roll; this is really embarrassing to the nation. Many security agencies have begun independent probe into the incidents.”
Tambuwal described as “unfortunate’’.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, the speaker said the death of the innocent youths was sorrowful and regrettable.
He said it was more regrettable, considering the fact that they were at the screening centres in search of jobs that would better their lot and that of their loved ones.
Tambuwal urged the authorities concerned to investigate the tragedy and advised them to map out strategies to prevent future occurrence.
He urged governments at all levels to work closely with the Organised Private Sector to tackle the unemployment problem facing the nation.
The speaker condoled with the families of those who lost their loved ones, and prayed for quick recovery of injured ones.
Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba described the death of job seekers as an unimaginable tragedy for the country.
Ndoma-Egba said the deaths were particularly worrisome, adding: “As a nation, this is an unimaginable tragedy. These deaths are coming at a time when the nation is grappling with the unwarranted deaths of innocent citizens at the hands of Boko Haram sect.
“Regrettably, this is a tragic reminder that our nation must do something very urgently to create opportunities for young men and women. We must do everything to generate employment for our people.”