Death for Jobseekers

ONE YEAR AGO – With over 50 million young people searching for non-existent jobs in Africa’s largest economy, the advertisement of any job is sure to attract many applications. So when the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) advertised vacant positions, over 6 million graduates applied. Fewer than 100 slots were available anyway.
The authorities had to do what they were used to doing: rake money from the jobseekers, organise an interview, and then share the slots among the people at the top. They requested each applicant to pay N1, 000 “processing” fee. With N6billion in their kitty, it was time to organise an interview. The practice then was to ask them to run a race – perhaps 2km – to determine their physical fitness. Then, a written interview to be followed by an oral interview.
NIS chose to start with the second one. Of the 6 million applications, fewer than 800, 000 were invited for the interview on March 15, 2014. Even then, every available space was occupied: stadia, football fields, community halls and large auditoriums across the country were interview venues. To ensure “security” at the venues, gun-toting and ill-trained operatives were there. In Abuja, Port Harcourt and a few others, the entrance gates of stadia were locked and only one or two left open.
Stampedes followed. At the end 20 jobseekers lay dead, three of them pregnant women. Hundreds were hospitalised. Interior minister Abba Moro shed crocodile tears. He set up panels made up of “experienced bureaucrats” to find out what happened. President Jonathan was aghast. The ruling Federal Executive Council announced that two members of the family of each dead victim would get the NIS jobs, and that every wounded applicant would get automatic employment.
One year after, the jobs have yet to reach the family members of the dead. Only hours before the first anniversary, at election campaign time, was it said that the president would “personally” offer the jobs to them. As for the wounded, nobody has the accurate statistics. Likely, the slots have been filled by the candidates of governors, ministers, directors, perm secs and The Presidency officials.
In Nigeria, you get a job only when it is offered to you by someone who knows you. You need not be qualified for it. Interviews are gimmicks meant to divert attention from the fraud public officeholders commit.
The 23 people killed on “the Ides of March” have just died for nothing – they lost their N1, ooo, the interview and their life. Interior minister Moro who was forced to accept responsibility for the tragedy has yet to resign. And nobody has sacked or transferred him. Nor has the controller-general of the NIS left his seat. Welcome to Nigeria where politics is everything. Beware the Ides of March.

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