Senate Probes Immigration Recruitment Tragedy
As APC Senate Caucus Demands Abba Moro's Sack
SAN FRANCISCO, March 18, (THEWILL) - The Senate has ordered its Committee on Interior to probe last Saturday tragedy in which about 25 persons were killed during the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment stampede.
The committee, which was given one week to turn in its report was also directed to conduct public hearing on the unfortunate incident Also on Tuesday the All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus of the Senate demanded the sack of the Minister of Interior, Abba Morro,.
It also called for a state of emergency to be declared on employment.
The Senate also urged the executive to come out with a Marshal Plan to tackle the rate of unemployment in the country.
The resolution was sequel to a motion of urgent national importance sponsored by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Interior, Senator Atiku Bagudu, and Senator Ahmed Makarfi Moving the motion, Senator Bagudu noted with grief the tragic nationwide recruitment exercise of the Nigerian Immigration Service( NIS) during which 15 applicants died during the stampede that occurred at some of the test centres across the country .
However, he debunked some media reports, which claimed that lawmakers were given slots in the recruitment exercise, saying the allegations were baseless and false.
Senators in wide ranging contributions labelled the tragedy a national calamity which has exposed the rate of unemployment in the country However the call by some Senators for the Minister of Interior Abba Morro to be sacked was rejected by the Senate.
Also the call for the next of kin of the victims to be compensated with Immigration jobs was also unanimously rejected by the Senate Senator Victor Lar ( Plateau PDP) said the real issue in the tragedy is the unacceptable level of unemployment in the country and urged the Senate to resolve that the police and paramilitary organisation to undertake massive recruitment exercises.
Senator Ita Enang in his submission said in the last five to eight years only paramilitary organisation are offering employment as the manufacturing industries offer little or no employment and urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on employment.
He also stated that it is not a political party matter and asserted that unemployment is worse than insurgency.
He attributed the insurgency in the country to the level of unemployment in the country adding that in the UK and United States, progress is measured by how much job the government has created.
Senator Ahmed Lawan ( Yobe APC) said : "I don't pretend to be partisan, when there is any success by the Federal Government, there will be a retreat and celebrated in the banquet hall and when there is a failure, it is not a party affair.
" Senator Lawan also blasted the IMF policies being implemented by the Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, saying it is not working for Nigerians.
He added that "there are no foods on the table and no jobs".
Senator Smart Adeyemi ( Kogi PDP), said;.
"We must restructure this country so that it is not only the Federal Government that is creating jobs.
We don't have to be uniform in our development process.
We must create more states and create more states and create opportunities for the people.
" We should not concentrate in accumulating foreign reserves at the expense of developing our infrastructure.
Ministers should be summoned on a quarterly basis to explain their performance.
" Senator Olubunmi Adetunbi said, "we don't need forensic audit to know we are suffering from policy failure, our economy is not creating jobs and it's not working.
States will begin to create more jobs when some of the responsibilities are devolved to the state by the Federal Government " In his contribution, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu called for the provision of social security for the unemployed in the country, so that 'we can be our brother 's keeper.
' Meanwhile in a statement issued by the spokesman of the APC caucus in the Senate, Senator Babafemi Ojudu (APC, Ekiti) said the statement becomes necessary in the light of the latest tragedy last Saturday that befell applicants who sought jobs in the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).
"That sad incident has further thrown up the deep extent that Nigeria's unemployment problem has degenerated," he said.
The statement read in parts :"Our continued silence would deem a collective irresponsiveness of the entire Senate.
APC senators in the Senate are really troubled about the worsening unemployment problem, but are seriously handicapped by the proprietorial tendencies of the Nigerian leadership, to which the ultimate responsibility of solving the problem lies.
"Even here, there is just a little we can go in redeeming issues, as the majority muscles the opposition at every turn in our efforts to right the so many wrongs that afflict our great country.
"Unfortunately, the Nigerian leadership has not exhibited any serious commitment to addressing the unemployment problem, especially in the manner it has been appropriating its budgetary priorities and managing oil revenues, and in policy implementation "Rather than ensure budgetary votes for areas that will impact on job creation, the leadership has been consistently allocating spending for recurrent whims that can't drive the employment needs of any nation.
And for the paltry sums that are allocated to capital projects, release of funds by the Finance Minister has always been difficult.
"As in the past years since the current administration came into power, budgetary proposals for recurrent expenditure in the 2014 appropriation are three-quarters of the entire document.
The budget is loaded with proposals for spendings that are clearly frivolous - the Presidential fleet, travels and trainings, Office of the Secretary to the Federation, questionable welfare and purchases of computer software and vehicles, among many others.
There are also repetitions of purchases that have become a yearly affair.
So while the Executive has sustained its extravagance, attention to vital areas that could address the unemployment problem has direly suffered.
So the problem has been inevitably degenerating.
"Again, oil revenues that would come very useful in creating various avenues to solve the unemployment problem are continuously being mismanaged.
You are well aware of the unfolding developments on missing oil revenues and the questionable kerosene subsidy.
You are also well aware of money grossly misappropriated in buying bullet-proof vehicles.
These are monies that could be well applied in tackling the unemployment problem given the right leadership.
"Where the Executive has mouthed at providing mass jobs, crass corruption, unnecessary politicking, sheer ineptitude and insincerity of purpose have made nonsense of the idea.
You all know the numerous revelations that have trailed implementation of the SURE-P initiative in all the states.
Where the programme should have been faithfully implemented to ease unemployment, it has been rendered another avenue to enrich members of the ruling party at the centre.
Moreover, it has become one of the tools that the President has found convenient to deploy in the inordinate pursuit of his underserved re-election ambition next year.
So while party officials scramble for the SURE-P spoils, unemployed Nigerians have continued to suffer.
" The statement also added that:"It was in the mean pursuit of undue financial gains that last Saturday's tragedy itself happened.
Employment into government agencies has always been a social service and never a mercantilist aberration.
But the President Goodluck Jonathan administration has redefined the concept, giving it a new, capitalist meaning altogether.
It was hitherto unheard-of that government agencies would be requesting poor, unemployed youths to pay in whatever form before they could be offered employment.
" "But it has become a norm with the incumbent administration.
Considering the bureaucratic waywardness and tardiness of those in charge in government, the unemployment racket was bound to get out of hand.
Where a sizable number of forms should have been given out to allow for control during interviews, those selling forms would always go for selling as many millions of forms as possible.
The more thousands of naira that came in from sale of forms, the merrier.
The comfort, convenience and, actually, lives of the applicants at the interview venues don't matter.
And that was what happened last Saturday.
"The tragedy has further graphically underlined the insensitivity of the President Jonathan administration to the plight of the people.
In other countries, the deaths of these helpless applicants in such a circumstance would be enough for the Minister in charge to tender his resignation.
We are calling on the Minister of the Interior, Hon.
Abba Moro to resign his position, because he can't be absolved from the activities that eventually led to this monumental tragedy.
"We are very worried about the worsening unemployment rate and are, hereby, calling on President Jonathan to tackle the problem sincerely and decisively by declaring an emergency on unemployment and urgently come out with a marshall plan to tackle the problem.
We would be deceiving ourselves not to admit that joblessness is an indirect effect of the spate of insecurity that is bedeviling the country all over.
If the President continues to dither on addressing the problem, we are afraid the insecurity situation can only get worse.
" EMMA UCHE, ABUJA