The weekend tragedy that casually ended the lives of 23 Nigerians seeking recruitment into the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) should be seen for what it was-state murder. The state should be held squarely responsible and made to pay for this dumb idea of assembling hundreds of thousands of abled and not so abled but certainly distressed Nigerians seeking legitimate ways to live, in a venue that could only accommodate half their population.
That was criminal. The process leading to that catastrophic end was itself criminal. It portrayed the government in the unflattering colours of a grand scammer that gleefully fleeces its citizenry without qualms. It betrayed this administration as roguish and supercilious, poignantly disconnected from the people. Charitably stated, this is an anti people government. It is a government of a few for the few and by the few.
It is no cheer that President Jonathan has cancelled the recruitment exercise and queried the Minister of Internal Affairs, Abba Moro. The wind has blown exposing the backside of the fowl. It is not pretty. It is also no cheer that he has offered employment to relations of the deceased. The quick response and job offers could only mean the president is seeking votes. With that mindset, nothing is sacrosanct.
A similar gesture like that to the embattled people of northeast would have cast him in the unfading colours of a statesman. But nay, our president is a mere politician interested only in the next election.
The query of the minister by the president should be followed up with a sack. This is more so considering the very public disowning of the entire exercise by the Customs, Immigrations and Prisons Services Board (CIPB).What it said yesterday confirmed public gossip that a powerful firm owned by the wife a visible politician is behind this catastrophe. Clearly the whole saga reeks of a scam. Charging hapless citizens caught in the quagmire of a rapacious government’s ineptitude , was criminal.
The journey to the recruitment calamity began with a N1000 charge on each of the two million applicants that sought to fill the 526,650 vacancies. Unknown to the candidates, 4000 of the slots have been shared among politicians in the category of governors and lawmakers. What, in essence, was available to these two million citizens was a paltry 126,650.This alone raked in N2billion.
In Abuja, over 100,000 desperate applicants squeezed into the 60,000 capacity national stadium. Because the N3 million naira charge was not paid for the use of the facility by the Consulting firm , the managers flatly refused to open the gates to the anxious job seekers compelling the more agile to scale over the fence. The story was no different nationwide. An armada of job seekers blurred the skyline across the states. Deliberately scamming citizens is an act of violence. Obtaining money under false pretense is contrary to Section 419 of the Penal Code. This was precisely what the Internal Affairs Ministry and the Consultant have done.
That was not the first time the state will do violence to its citizens. Successive governments treaded this path of ignominy in treating citizens like cow dung. The Nigerian citizen is easily the most molested by the state in peace or wartime. In the last 30 years, the state and its leaders have systematically abused the Nigerian youth. Some of the characters in cozying in the corridors of power have been there in the last three decades. They contributed ,significantly, to the nation’s woes as manifested in the weekend mishap. Such self-seeking rulers sabotaged education, deliberately obliterating the public school system and encouraged dependency culture and tacitly caused infrastructural decay just so to perpetuate themselves in power. Under the incumbent president’s watch, these reprehensible traits have assumed legendary proportion.
By acts of commission or omission, the body language of the president, some have said, including the Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, encourages graft and grand larceny.
Consider, if you will, the sledgehammer treatment of the gadfly and ex-CBN governor Sanusi L. Sanusi, the whistle blower and the kids glove treatment of Stellar Oduah, the armoured cars princess. This is an act of violence on the psyche of the Nigerian youth.
Years of iron fist military and chronically myopic civilian rule led to the present dreadful situation of colossal unemployment among the youth population. One account puts youth unemployment below 30 years at as staggering 80 million. This is more than half of the nation’s population roughly put at 140 million people.
This is criminal. In saner climes heads will be rolling. But this is Nigeria undergoing “transformation”. In this kind of “transformation”, human lives don’t count. In saner climes, any kind of transformation is centered on lives. Not so here.
The value of human life is directly proportional to the region of its location. That may help explain in part, why the president could budget a paltry N2 billion to the North-east region devastated by insurgents to the over N300 billion budgeted to the Niger Delta region.
Many a job seeker has come to sobering conclusion that to get hired into government job, they have to bribe their way. To join any of the uniform service a non-refundable charge of N250,000 was the necessary qualification. There exists, a job barons in all government departments and ministries enjoying the same anonymity with drugs barons
It is not enough to just cancel the exercise. It shouldn’t be in the first place. It was clearly illegal. Statutorily, only the CIPB could conduct such a recruitment. But the barons having links with certain citizens in high places over powered the BOARD. One day, the downtrodden would have nothing to eat but those ogas at the top. Mark my words!