By Kayode Ketefe
There is a school of thought which believes writers are like prophet, sent to the world with some super-ordained obligations to minister to their fellow mankind. While I don’t necessarily belong to the school, I nevertheless momentarily regaled myself with the sublime feelings of a prophet who had just delivered a prophecy that came to pass.
Readers of this column would recall that in the very last week edition, I wrote extensively on the plight of the Nigerian youths; how they are being maltreated, psychologically tortured and unduly maligned by the senior generation. I wrote on the reasons why they found it difficult to survive in a world dominated exclusively by their callous older generation.
In that piece entitled “Deconstructing our youths’ incompetence tar” I stated inter-alia “We should learn to appreciate our youths and stop denigrating them as if they did not genetically descend from their progenitors, who have chosen to don the toga of unfathomable superiority?
Whatever vices now being exhibited by the youth were not inculcated in them by some subterranean spirits, the youth acquired them through indoctrination by the older generations many of whom now deprecate the same youth with unbridled passion.”
Then forty-eight hours after the piece came out, a classical live experience of the kind of treatment our leaders mete out to Nigerian youths occurred. This took place during the nationwide recruitment public examination of the Nigerian Immigration service. The examination which took place in various centres across the federation turned tragic as lives of innocent expectant job seekers were lost in avoidable stampede at the centres.
It was reported that seven people died in Abuja centre, three in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and two Minna, Niger State. Applicants were also reported to have died in Benin Owerri and Gombe centres. Altogether, about 22 innocent job seekers lost their lives at the prime in the NIS ill-fated job recruitment examination.
Rather than being repentant the authorities have being struggling to shift the blame on the applicants. For example the Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro’s argument that the stampede was due to impatience and non-adherence to laid down orderly procedure by the applicants is absolutely untenable. Crowd control is a serious practical activity that requires adequate pro-active efforts.
It goes beyond merely issuing a directive to hundreds of thousands of applicants and then folds your hands. What makes the argument more untenable is that the same NIS had experienced a similar disaster in the past, precisely in 2008, when a number of job-seekers also died during a similar recruitment exercise.
Shouldn’t the NIS have learnt from this? There is growing number of civil society groups calling for resignation of Moro on account of this tragedy and their anger is understandable.
Another annoying issue about whole affair is imposition of N1000 fee on each of the candidate. Why? Collecting a thousand naira each from over 522 million candidates for meager 4,556 slots of jobs is not only irresponsible but also constitutes mindless and wicked economic terrorism. Why on earth should NIS be milking impecunious job seekers?
This writer had once attended an interview in Nigeria by a world-class corporate organisation where money was given to all the invited interviewees to take them to their destination. I could recall that somebody who came by flight from Abuja had her flight fees to and fro fully refunded. That, to me, is the way to treat job seekers. But the NIS authorities were only interested in exploiting the hapless, impecunious job seekers.
Furthermore, It is certainly unreasonable and egregiously naïve to ask over half a million applicants to come and write a public job aptitude examination on the same day in a nation like ours. One should have expected the NIS authorities to have conducted preliminary screening to reduce the number based on some certain objective criteria and then invite only a manageable figure for the interview.
Let us even suppose they insisted that all the over-a-million job seekers should write test, couldn’t a saner procedure have been employed like staggered method while the candidates write their papers in batches?
Why should any conscientious authority even invite 522,000 for 4556 jobs? To them, it may be they want to make the slots to be open and competitive to all Nigerians, but to me, it is just like they are mocking the agony of the job seekers.
It is tantamount to throwing a loaf of bread in the midst of 50 hungry dogs and watch them with sadistic relish as they are leaping, yelling, tearing and snapping at one another to get the meal.
Moreover, every Nigerian who understands how our system operates will know that if there are officially 4556 jobs available, sizeable slots of these would have been pre-allocated to vested powerful interests like Ministers, Senators Governors, etc to such an extent that only a minute fraction of the actual figure would be truly available for meritorious appropriation by qualified candidates. This truism makes the whole thing more scandalous!
It is really sad that the Nigerian youths, after braving years of education amidst deprivation in the university, would still have to brave death before they can hope of getting jobs.
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