It is nothing short of tragedy, as a minimum of eighteen (18) Nigerian job seekers lost their lives and scores more injured, nationwide, during the Nigerian Immigration job recruitment test, on Saturday, March 15th 2014.
The test which was scheduled to take place same day and time, in the thirty six (36) states of Nigeria, and FCT, was an exercise aimed at filling about three thousand (3000) job slots for the Nigerian Immigration Service.
Eye witness account from a participant in Abuja, who identified herself as Joy, said that there were very poor logistics on the part of the organizers, poor crowd control and late arrival of officials. The factors she enumerated combined to cause a stampede, as more than fifty thousand (50,000) participants struggled to find their way into the stadium and access test materials, causing a stampede that led to the death of seven (7) applicants in Abuja and different degrees of injuries to many more.
The situation is similar in Portharcourt and Minna, where five (5) and three (3) applicants lost their lives respectively.
According to the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, on Sunday while speaking with Journalists, he said that the choice of stadia across the nation was to accomodate the anticipated high turn-out as well as enable physical fitness test, that was supposed to be part of the overall test. He also said that the number of applicants totaled five hundred and twenty six thousand, six hundred and fifty (526, 650), as against insinuations that more than one million applications were duly received.
The number of applicants is a vital data, as applicants paid a non-refundable processing fee of one thousand Naira (N1000,00).
In response, President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the cancellation of the conducted recruitment exercise, and ordered a re-run, in a more civilized manner. However, a special committee headed by the Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission will be responsible for the recruitment rerun, and not the ministry of interior that supervised the cancelled one.
As a form of compensation to families of the dead applicants, President Goodluck Jonathan approved three automatic employment for young candidates presented by each of the affected families, which must include a female. Those that were injured during the exercise are to receive an automatic employment.
With all said, the question is when will the nation see the last of these avoidable deaths? This is not the first occurrence, and it still repeats, with no one held accountable. As usual, the Federal Government would set up an investigative panel to look into the “remote and immediate causes” of the stampede, as if it is so difficult to establish. At the end of the day, the report of whatever panel or committee would be dumped somewhere, while the nation awaits another tragedy.
In Nigeria, the culture of being accountable by public office holders is alien, and as long that remains, public officers will continue to act with reckless abandon, knowing that their recklessness or deliberate exploit will boil down to committee reports, whose reports and hardly implemented.