Life Is Cheap In Nigeria
It is a period of harvest of deaths; a sad period for the country. The Boko Haram’s bumper harvest of deaths in the northeastern States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have received national and international condemnations. The faceless Mercenaries who slaughtered over one hundred and ten people in Kastina villages have been called wicked. The Fulani herdsmen who continually massacre people in Benue, Kaduna and Plateau States have been described as callous. The stampede at the Nigerian Immigration Service recruitment test centers, which has claimed twenty avoidable deaths, was described by Mr. President as SAD. News of deaths is sad news indeed. It becomes very bad and worrisome when the deaths are avoidable; when the deaths result from human error and incompetence; it is also more disturbing when the deaths are caused by greed, selfishness and corruption.
The death of 20 applicants in Stampede at the employment test for recruitment into the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) conducted across the country Saturday, 15 March, 2014 has raised more questions concerning our value for life. Life is too cheap in Nigeria. Our value of life is still primitive and unreligious. Many Nigerians receive President Goodluck Jonathan directive that three employment slots be reserved for the families of those who died during the stampede with mix feelings. To some it is a good way of providing succor or relief to the bereaved family. To others, it is insulting. Must one loss a family member to get job, they queried?
Mr. President also directed that all those who sustained injuries and are currently hospitalized be given automatic employment in the Nigerian Immigration Service. He did well by ordering that the ill-fated exercise be cancelled. He also set up a committee led by the Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, to conduct a fresh exercise. This committee has the Comptroller-General of NIS as well as representatives of the Inspector-General of Police and the Heads of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, Nigerian Prisons Service, State Security Service and the Federal Road Safety Commission as members.
But, it is necessary to ask, what is the Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro still doing in the office? Is the blood and painful death of these young Nigerians, whose only offence is that they presented themselves to serve their fatherland, in his hands not enough to make him hit the door?
Nigerians are still pondering why Abba Moro, thought the offence for which these Nigerians died and for which they stand liable and accused is “impatience” and “not following the laid down procedures spelt out to them before the exercise”. Are those words enough to explain away the life of 20 young Nigerians?
He further blamed, “Many of them jumped through the fences of affected centers and did not conduct themselves in an ordinary manner to make the exercise a smooth one. This caused stampede and made the environment unsecure”. Is our Honourable Minister of Interior aware of what it means to be unemployed in Nigeria? If the Minister says that, for instance, the 67,000 people invited into the FCT, Abuja Center is not a crowd that requires proper crowd control and management, what then is his own definition of crowd? Because, if two is company and three is crowd, then 67,000 is a bigger crowd. Besides, if standard crowd control mechanism was too expensive compared to the life of thousands of Nigerians invited for the recruitment assessment test at various centers why was medical emergency personnel not on hand to handle the emergency situation? By bluntly refusing to put in place all necessary contingency plans, the Ministry of Interior and Nigerian Immigration Service violated the applicants’ rights to life and dignity. They also conspired and connived to kill them.
Our investigations have revealed that over N7billion was collected from 734,000 applicants for only 4,556 jobs; and that 520,000 job seekers were invited to write an assessment test for the only 4, 556 vacancies. Why should the Nigerian Immigration Service under the leadership of the Comptroller General of Immigration Service, David Parradang, exploit jobless Nigerians and supervise their murder in the name of recruitment test? What are our expectations for including Davis Parradang in the new NIS Recruitment Committee?
Who is Drexel Nigeria Limited? What role did the company play in the whole drama? How was the company engaged? What are the terms of its engagement? What services did the company render to the Nigerian Immigration Service? Why was the company chosen above other qualify and competent firms?
The call on the Federal Government to institute a powerful Panel of Inquiry into the remote and immediate causes of the death of these innocent Nigerians is very necessary and timely. The world is watching us. Nothing should be swept under the carpet. Let human life be properly valued in Nigeria. The investigation should extend beyond usual rhetoric and jamboree to a full scale inquiry into the circumstances culminating in these avoidable deaths and those responsible in one way or the other should be brought to book