On Saturday thé 14th of March 2014, graduates converged in several stadia across Nigeria to partake in a recruitment exercise organized by the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS.
More than 500,000 applicants turned up for the tests at the various centres for which about less than 5000 vacancies were available.
In what later turned out to be a repeat of events witnessed a few years ago, about 16 applicants (according to official sources) of which 4 were pregnant women lost their lives in the stampede that occurred at four of the centres.
According to one eye witness report at the Abuja National Stadium (which was filed ‘to the brim’ with massive spillover outside) recruitment exercise centre, only one entry point of the several around the stadium was opened to allow some of the applicants in and was shut after a while leading to attempts by those locked out to force their way into the already filled stadium.
This eye witness claims that in the ensuing stampede a pregnant woman was pushed, fell and was trampled upon, attempts by bystanders to revive her came to nought.
The staggering number of applicants at the recruiting centres makes a mockery of the whitewashed comments and statements by the Finance Minister and other government appointees to the effect that many Nigerians have been provided with employment since this government came to power.
Minister of Interior, Abba Moro rather than take responsibility for the unfortunate turn of events blamed the applicants for been impatient and unruly. Sadly, conducting a recruitment exercise in the way he and David Paradang, Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, just did is his own idea of making the process free and fair, even when many know that a large part of the positions have been taken by the children and wards of highly placed Nigerians, many if not all of whom were not even present for the exercise.
Unfortunately, many Nigerians lose thousands of Naira to Scammers within and outside these ministries and government parastatals routinely, who promise prospective applicants that they surely would get these jobs, hence you’ll find that some of the applicants already work in the private sector, then plunge their wages into trying to secure government jobs.
Besides being a politician, the civil service is the next lucrative job in Nigeria. The fact that it is pensionable may be a factor, but that falls in the face of the fact that even now in the private sector, places with about 10 staffers are compelled to make their employees pensionable and even the formerly secure civil service ones are being stolen by corrupt pension officers.
Jobs like that of immigration (and other paramilitary organizations like Customs) are considered lucrative simply because of the ease of corrupt enrichment associated with the jobs.
Unfortunately, the spaces available in these parastatals to accommodate the teeming unemployed youths are few and in most cases are usually already taken even before recruitment exercises are carried out, and regardless of the good intentions of the minister except he personally oversees the conduct and process of recruitment, his effort as already evidenced with last Saturday’s shame will fail.
It is instructive to note that the federal government have seen through the current plans and the senselessness of it, in canceling the recruitment exercises in ministries, parastatals and government agencies (except for the Army and Police) for now and setting up a panel to review the recruitment processes headed by the Head of Service of The Federation. President Goodluck Jonathan has also ordered that three employment slots should be reserved for members of the families of the dead applicants, as well as automatic employment for those injured during the stampede.
Unfortunately knowing how things work in Nigeria, this panel will only arrive at means which will reduce deaths, but may not be free and fair enough to guarantee that employment will go to those who merit it only.
The days are definitely gone when on graduating, the Nigerian student/applicant already has job offers waiting with a car and accommodation. Even doctors and paramedicals whose employment used to be a given are now feeling the pinch with few spaces available for Housemanship, and even fewer for residency etc. Some are even doing internship WITHOUT PAY!
It has therefore become trite that applicants and future applicants (students) begin to look inwards to figure out ways in which to make money beyond looking for one government job or another, while the government must take serious, the provision of enabling environments that’ll encourage the building of entrepreneurs, and stop paying mere lip service to encouraging Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.
Many graduates today find themselves helpless seeing that there are no places to practice their trades, finding it not out of place to work at jobs unrelated to their field just so they can make ends meet, satisfied with being underemployed.
The Nigerian education system lays no particular emphasis on entrepreneurial training, or even teaching students to develop the mindset for such.
Graduates, also find demeaning so many jobs that the uneducated in society have explored to great financial benefits. Interestingly, a few educated and enlightened people have gotten engaged in these jobs, bringing innovations in and maximizing profits for their own good, at the end of the day even employing others.
Nigerian job seekers must realize that the honeymoon is over, and that their fate must be taken by no other hands than theirs. Nigeria isn’t even making enough for the looters in government (whom I thought the applicants should have peacefully marched against in protest after Saturday’s shame) now for the “Polithievians” to consider the already impoverished Nigerian applicants.
Our education system must now be modified to cater for and accommodate the awakening of the entrepreneurial potentials inherent in students, to the end that the sort of embarrassment Nigeria was subjected to last Saturday will be a thing of the past.
It’s difficult not to be overwhelmed with emotion about the loss of lives and hasten to demand the resignation and sacking of those involved in this shame, sham and scam of a recruitment exercise, but we know how these things end in Nigeria. The last government action we may possibly see may not go beyond the “one-minute silence” President Jonathan declared to be observed for the fallen, as he inaugurated and declared open the National Conference on Monday.
May the Soul of the Faithfully Departed Rest in Peace!