Growing Army of Unemployed Nigerians: Eve of Revolution!

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The recent botched recruitment exercise by Nigeria Immigration Service which allowed millions of unemployed youths to write an aptitude test for 4,550 vacancies – leading to the death of about 20 Nigerians – is a clear indication that danger looms in Nigeria, reports James Opute                                                                                           

 

Senator Adeyeye Olusola (Osun West Senatorial District) while contributing to the motion presented by Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi Central Senatorial District) on the need for Nigerian Senate to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the incidence that occurred during the NIS recruitment exercise on Saturday March 15, said if nothing is done to check the problem of youth unemployment in Nigeria, the type of revolution that took place in a country like Bulgaria, Chez Republic will likely take place in Nigeria.

 

Senator Bugudu on Tuesday March 18 while presenting his motion at the Senate chamber described as unfortunate the tragedy that occurred during the recruitment exercise of NIS and called for serious investigation into the matter to avoid the repeat of such issue in the future.

 

Unemployment problem is worst than insurgency according to some analysts. Some quarters have argued that the government SURE-P lacks employment contents at local, state and federal level thereby aggravating the problem on the ground. It would be recalled that in 1983 when Nigerian Immigration Service carried out recruitment exercise, it only employed few people because people were not interested in joining the paramilitary agency then due to availability of several job opportunities.

 

Similarly, some years ago, people have options to choose where to work as they were graduating from primary and  secondary schools as well as tertiary institutions. But today people have to gather in the stadia to write aptitude test.

Senator Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North) affirmed that he will be ready to work with any good policy of PDP led administration but now that the party has failed woefully, it should be kicked out of power. According to Ahmed, the Nigerian economy under PDP government is not working  for Nigerians.

 

Some analysts have also stated that the World Bank policy is not applicable to Nigeria. Senator Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West) maintained that World Bank policies which are not applicable to Nigeria should not be implemented in the country. According to him, it is not good for the Senate to confirm the nomination of ministers without calling them to give account of what they were appointed to do. He said it is good to call the ministers on quarterly basis to know what they have achieved.

 

Millions of job seekers had thronged venues of the recruitment exercise, mostly stadia, for the exercise that was later cancelled by the federal government.

Each candidate was required to wear a white T-shirt, boxer shorts, socks and tennis shoe for the exercise. It was gathered that the candidates were expected to be tested in logical reasoning, English language and Mathematics.

 

The applicants, mostly youths, had certificates ranging from master’s degree to bachelor’s degree, Higher National Diploma, National Certificate in Education, National Diploma and Senior Secondary School Leaving Certificate.

About 8 were confirmed dead after a stampede at the National Stadium, Abuja, venue of the exercise in the Federal Capital Territory. Unconfirmed report said two of them were pregnant women.

 

Scores others fainted and sustained injuries and were immediately rushed to different hospitals by security operatives, who felt helpless in the face of surging crowd of unemployed persons. At the Abuja National Hospital where most of the fainted were taken to, the medical personnel refused to confirm number of the dead. But sources at the hospital hinted that about eight persons were on the list of those brought in dead.

 

Trouble started at about 9.20 am. The mass of applicants that arrived the stadium as early as 4.30 am for the exercise that was scheduled for 7.am reportedly tried to force their way into the gates, even as operatives laboured to screen them.

As a result of pressure from behind, applicants closest to the partially opened gates, were crushed against the gate.

 

The unprecedented turnout overwhelmed the 60,000-capacity Abuja stadium. Every inch of the edifice was taken by the mass of applicants, while thousands sat helpless outside the facility, casting doubt about the administration’s claims at job provision.
Others who could not stand the hassles decided to return to their homes. In Abuja alone 68,000 applicants were listed to sit for the examination. Minister of Interior, Abba Patrick Moro, had on Thursday 14 March assured the nation that logistic and security measures had been put in place to ensure a hitch-free exercise.

 

But that turned out otherwise, at least in Abuja, where a handful of police officers and men of the different paramilitary agencies and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) appeared unprepared for what happened. Three job seekers, out of the 11,000 candidates who converged on the Women Day Secondary School Minna for the recruitment exercise died when security agencies fired tear-gas at anxious applicants.

 

Security sources said that Immigration personnel were overwhelmed by the crowd that lined up to two kilometres from the venue of the examination. At least, five persons, including a pregnant woman, lost their lives during a stampede at the Port Harcourt Liberation Stadium venue of the recruitment exercise. Many of the applicants sustained injuries.

 

About 40,000 job seekers, clad in white T-shirts and shoes, had stormed the stadium at about 7am on Saturday for the physical and written NIS tests. One of the applicants, who gave her name as Blessing, said a pregnant woman, who was injured, later died in the hospital.

 

She said, “Five persons died. One of them, a pregnant woman, jumped the fence and hit her stomach on the ground. She was taken to the hospital. When we started leaving, we learnt that the woman had died. About 5,000 job seekers from Gombe and Borno took part in the exercise at the Abubakar Umar Memorial Stadium, Gombe.

 

NAN reports that there was a stampede as a result of struggle at the entrance of the venue. It was learnt that applicants from Borno were transferred to Gombe as a result of the security challenge in the state. At the Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi, the Benue State capital, no fewer than 17, 800 applicants took part in the exercise.

 

The state Public Relations Officer, NIS, Mr. Tersoo Ukeyima, said Makurdi that the service was overwhelmed by the number of applicants and did its best to accommodate them. About 10 people fainted on Saturday during the exercise in Jos, Plateau State capital. More than 30,000 job seekers sat the examination at the Command Secondary School along Zaria Road.Although no death was recorded, those who fainted where revived by the emergency medical team provided for the exercise.

 

Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker, Nigerian House of Representatives described as ‘unfortunate’ the death of some Nigerians on Saturday at recruitment centres of the Nigeria Immigration Service. He urged governments at all levels to work closely with the Organised Private Sector to tackle the unemployment problem facing the nation

Similarly, All Progress Congress, APC said it is unfortunate that instead of providing job for the millions of unemployed youths in the country, PDP led government decided to extort money from the applicants in the name of conducting aptitude test. The party said it is surprising that the government will sell forms to millions of applicants just to employ about five thousand of them.

 

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