…as Moro blames doctors, bankers, teachers, others for disaster
President Goodluck Jonathan has directed immediate cancellation of last Saturday’s Nigerian Immigration Service recruitment exercise where about 17 applicants lost their lives across the country.
Jonathan also directed that young members of the deceased families, one of which must be a female, are to be given automatic employment, so are all the injured currently receiving treatment in hospitals across the country.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting which lasted exactly an hour and presided over by the President, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, said Council members took turns to condole families of the deceased over their loss and send their best wishes to those injured, in the exercise which they described as ill-fated.
The President according to Maku has warned all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) henceforth not to embark on such exercise again with the exception of the Armed Forces and Police, warning dare consequences will be metted out to defaulters.
He said the entire Council meeting was dedicated to condolences to the families of the deceased.
“FEC noted with grief and deep regrets the tragedy of those who died in the ill fated Nigeria Immigration exercise. FEC in sending condolences to the families of the deceased and also in sending special wishes to those who are injured and receiving treatment in various hospitals in different parts of the country expressed total regrets that this tragedy took place at all.
“Council members were full of grief when the issue was discussed. We expressed our condolences to the President and Vice President and we indeed reassured Nigerians that all of us who have the privilege of servicing this nation at this time are feeling the pains with the families of our young ones who lost their lives.
“We reaffirmed our commitment to ensuring that this kind of tragedy does not repeat itself in this country”, Maku said.
The Information Minister said, the President has also directed that as soon as he returns from his trip abroad he will meet with the families of the deceased to express his personal condolences to them over the sad tragedy that took place on Saturday.
“He instructed all MDAs henceforth never to embark on any exercise of this nature in recruiting people into the public service, because what happened could have been avoided altogether.
“He has directed that henceforth no one outside the Armed Forces, Police, who usually recruit people through physical exercises, no other MDA or department of government is allowed to embark on this type of exercise that we witnessed on Saturday.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the deceased, this nation is fully behind them, the grief is not their own, the grief is the grief of all Nigerians and the grief is the grief of the government and the people of Nigeria. We regret it and pray for the souls of those who have departed”, he said.
Maku further stated that Council noted that “It is regrettable that this took place at a time that every effort was being made by government to increase spaces available for employment. For example last year we were able to get 1.6 million employed in the various sectors of the economy and the public service. However this incident is so painful to all of us and we will not want to see in this country young job seekers looking for job and losing their lives in the process.
“We assure the nation today that every step will be taken to look into the various lapses in recruitment exercises into the public service to be sure that all those who are qualified get access into the public service without going through this kind of experience”.
The President has also set up a special committee headed by the Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Deaconess Joan Ayo, to conduct a new recruitment exercise to fill the vacancies in the Nigeria Immigration Service at a yet to be determined date.
Other members of the committee include: the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, David Paradang, a Representative of the Inspector General of the Nigeria Police, Representative of the Comptroller of the Nigeria Prison Service, Representative of the Corps Marshall of the Federal Road Safety Corps and a Representative of the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
Meanwhile, the Interior Minister, Abba Moro has blamed last Saturday’s stampede at the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment centres across the nation on doctors, nurses, bankers, teachers and others in paid employment.
According to him, these already employed individuals thronged the various recruitment centres in their numbers.
Moro said though these categories of persons never applied for jobs with the NIS, they gate-crashed into the venues of the recruitment, with the hope of getting foreign postings and being pensionable if employed by the NIS.
Moro’s aide, Mallam Salisu Dantata Muhammed, who spoke on behalf of his boss in Abuja yesterday, said contrary to reports, the ministry put in place logistics to contain crowds at the centres.
He also blamed the social media for the stampede, saying that many of the applicants were inviting friends and relatives who did not apply for the job to the centres through Facebook, text messages and other portals.
Muhammed said: “It’s odd that many of those who turned up included employed bankers, engineers, medical doctors, nurses, teachers and others who wanted to cross over to the Immigration Services at all costs.
“The Minister and officials of his ministry considered last Saturday’s incident as very regrettable, more so as the unexpected huge crowd shattered the near perfect arrangements they had put in place against anticipated huge crowd.
“The Interior Ministry made adequate provisions for the expected mammoth crowd at the National Stadium meant to conveniently sit 75,000 people.
More than 45 percent of those who eventually turned up were not supposed to be at the centres.
“About 520,000 applied for the recruitment exercise across the federation. For instance, we had in our record that applicants totalling 68,000 were to be at the Abuja Stadium. But at the end, nearly 70 percent of non-applicants forced their way into the stadium.
“Apart from the committees that planned the exercise ahead, we had security personnel drawn from the Immigration, Civil Defence, Prisons, Fire Services and others to complement the Police. We made adequate preparations.
“But they overpowered the security personnel. Many of them got impatient and very desperate to get attention, and in the process, they began to climb and jump across impossible places in order to gain access to the stadium. That was the beginning of the stampede.
“The crowd got more desperate when they learnt that they could get foreign service postings and then become pensionable. So doctors, nurses, teachers, engineer, and all manners of people who had paid jobs turned up and increased our dilemma.”
The minister’s aide said the scathing criticisms that greeted the stampede were uncalled for, arguing that the critics did not bother to find out what caused the stampede.
According to him, the minister and top officials of the ministry have gone into special intercessory prayers, specifically for the applicants who died.