The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) are the latest organizations to condemn the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) for last Saturday’s tragic recruitment exercise in which about one million youths showed up and 20 were killed in stampedes.
In separate statements, CACOL called for the sack of the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro and the Comptroller-General of the NIS, David Shikfu Parradang, while the NLC urged the government to investigate the NIS, including its collection of money from hard pressed applicants.
In a statement signed by its president, Abdulwahed Omar, the NLC also dismissed the explanation by the Minister of Interior, Abba Morro, that 520,000 applicants were invited for screening for 4,556 spaces and that the applicants died in a stampede due to their impatience and non-adherence to an orderly procedure, describing the arrangements as a call to anarchy and highly irresponsible.
Similarly, the chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, described the Minister’s statement as callous, and the collection of the N1,000 as the highest height of extortions.
“Hundreds of thousands of job-seekers attended job-seeking examinations organised by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in different centres in Nigeria to fill just 4,556 vacancies and each job seeker was compelled to pay the sum of one thousand Naira (N1,000),” he said. “That is the highest height of extortions because those applicants are supposed to be paid not that they should be ripped of the stipends they have. They shouldn’t take money from the people who don’t have jobs. Where did they expect them to get money from, to go and borrow or become beggars on the streets?”
CACOL also noted that no evidence exists that the sums paid by the applicants were remitted to the Federation Account as required by law.
“In all the places, these examinations took place in stadia, suggesting that the organisers anticipated large turn outs but they failed to make arrangements for crowd management and control,” CACOL pointed out. “At the end, many were killed and many were injured in stampedes caused by poor arrangement. This tragedy was avoidable.”
NLC said only crass opportunism could explain what it described as a heartless scam, and that a more rational and discerning recruitment process could easily have reduced the numbers by insisting on raising minimum standards.
“The Immigration Department willfully refused to employ this option in order to maximize the opportunity to bleed the applicants, each of whom was asked to pay one thousand Naira,” the statement said.
It said the demand of N1,000 per candidate follows a condemnable pattern, which has now become common, even in the private sector, where thousands of applicants, are invited in droves to compete for extremely limited opportunities.
“Ordinarily objectionable, this rogue method of head hunting, must count as execrable in the extreme, when adopted by a reputable department of government. This corporate conduct fills us with disgust and we hereby call on government to provide greater protection for the unemployed, vulnerable as they may seem. The current environment leaves them open to serial abuses, and the deaths which have resulted from the Immigration exercise, are an extreme indication, of a widespread dysfunction, and crass incompetence of government agencies.
NLC also reminded the government of the danger that unemployment, particularly unemployment of qualified youths, represents, warning that unemployment at the current scale is a grave challenge to the status quo and should shatter the complacency that some Nigerians feel.
“The specter of over 80,000 youths in a stadium in Abuja, assembled, not to watch an A-list football match, but rather, challenged by an epic hunger to have something to do, must break all hearts. We therefore call on government to tackle unemployment with increased commitment, and appropriately sanction those who have had a hand in causing these scandalous deaths.”