The brutal scam by a government against its youth, the ‘NIS recruitment tragedy’

by Godwin Akanfe

Its been a year since the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro unlawfully took advantage of his position and defrauded about 700,000 poor, job seeking Nigerians with job vacancies in the Nigeria Immigration Service. In doing so, he also took advantage of the high unemployment rate in the country, and a knowledge that 90 percent of the applicants would never get the job. Facts soon surfaced showing that there were only 3000 available vacancies in the Nigeria Immigration Service.

In perpetuating this travesty, Moro set a death trap, which claimed the lives of no less than 15 of the applicants, job seekers who lost their lives in a complicated and ultimately fruitless pursuit. The application process saw a large crowd of people, turn out in the various immigration recruitment centres across the country in April, 2014, in order to be recruited into the Nigeria Immigration Service.. The incident also witnessed several minor injuries sustained by those who given what happened, could be called lucky.

This is to show the extent of which greed has eaten up the minds of people who are suppose to be public servants.

This, when compared to other fraudulent and scam activities perpetrated by hell bound “leaders” and politicians in our country, will go down as one of the biggest scams perpetrated by a government on its own people, and probably the most brutal.

Showing no penitence, sorrow or shame in the year since that time, Abba Moro has gone on record saying that the incident should be blamed on the victims because they failed to exercise patience. The applicants lost their lives due to impatience; they did not follow the laid down procedures 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 insecure.

What a callous statement to make!

From that moment, it was very clear that there was no hope for many graduates who have struggled to make it out of the university. The huge turnout of about 700,000 young Nigerians in various part of the country seeking for employment brought to the fore the chronic unemployment problem in the country despite becoming the biggest economy in Africa. What hope then for Nigerians who did not attend the university?

Shortly after the NIS incident, the Senate President David Mark on vowed that there would be no sacred cows nor a cover up of the tragedy. But, up till now, after a year, and despite the President’s largesse to the families of the victims on Friday, no one has been suspended, sacked,jailed or questioned regarding the tragedy. It has been one cover up or the other. In any sane country, a minister in such capacity would have humbly resigned or better still, been shown the door. What has happened
here though is that the peculiar Nigerian phenomemon, man-know-man has played out.

The Minister of Interior, Abba Moro is from Benue State, a close friend and companion of the Senate President, David Mark.

After this scandal broke out, many Nigerians opined that nothing would happen to Abba Moro because of his close relationship with David Mark and because of that, President Jonathan would do nothing. Tragically, they have been proved right. Abba Moro is still the serving minister of Interior. The manner in which President Jonathan has toyed with a very grave issue like this shows how low the youth, poor and the less opportunied are rated under his watch.

After one year, and in a bid to remain the country’s President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan finally on Friday in Abuja presented letters of employment to members of the 15 families who lost sons and daughters during the NIS recruitment exercise last year.

We must, in the spirit of fairness note that it was absolutely right to pay compensation to the families of those who died as a result of our government’s errors. However, simply throwing N5 million their way is not justice.

Justice would have it that that compensation would include both an initial lump sum and a recurring monthly payment for the lives of each deceased’s dependents. Justice would have it that family members will also receive training and perhaps even access to capital to become entrepreneurs. Simply giving jobs to people and negating a merit-based recruitment process is in itself creating a new injustice to other unemployed people who may be more qualified for those jobs.

Having said all of that, the worst part of this tragic story, is that the perpetrators have gotten clean away.


Oped pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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