By Bisi Lawrence
The tragic circumstances in which no less than nineteen young Nigerians recently lost their lives in vain search for jobs in the immigration office is heart-rending enough without the sloppy manner in which the authorities have reacted to it. The details are odious in the extreme.
To conduct a recruitment drive in the manner of a jungle mentality speaks volumes of our lack of sophistication in conducting our public affairs, and sensitivity to human values. If that indicated the level of our appreciation of our lives, all that can be said is that it is simply frightening.
The young people involved were all graduates of higher institutions. That was a heartrending aspect when consideration is given to the arduous nature of going through university training in this country today. The search for admission trough the tortuous route of JAMB is enough to dampen any spirit but that of a Nigerian youth, desirous of acquiring knowledge and the skills for providing a better future amid fierce competition, and eager to create a space for himself under the sun.
And then to grow through the sometimes hazardous experience of the “youth corps” exercise, once now stripped of most of its glamour only to end up with a search for jobs for months on end, is heart-rending, to say the least.
Yet this is how we prepare our next generation for their future, which is our future, because those who are in authority are wealthy enough to send their children over most of the hurdles, and can escape the vicious aspects of raising a child to a prosperous future in our country.
This then is the first point we have to tackle —that there are children must be provided the equal opportunities for training and advancement in life. The terrain is totally uneven as it is, and it is made more so by the machinations of those who should ensure equity and progress.
Men and women who wish to present themselves for public office should therefore be made to send their children to schools in Nigeria. This will ensure that our institutions will be brought to an appreciably high standard of excellence, in the first place, and reduce the advantages of privilege that the rich provide for their offspring.
The method of recruitment should be far removed from the barbaric mode adopted by the immigration authorities in the recent episode. However, the officials who should have been involved in it have openly denied that the Immigration Minister, Alhaji Abba Moro, was solely responsible for the organization of the entire fiasco.
That is why it is simply amazing that the man has been allowed to stay one day in office after that national horror. He not only dug in, but continued to insult the populace by spewing out filthy excuses and empty explanations about a disastrous exercise for which he ought to be prosecuted.
His retention in office is a sad commentary on our standard of public life and personal sense of honour. In more decent climes, he should have apologized to the nation and promptly resigned his appointment.
If he had hesitated to be decent about it, the man who put him there should have given him the boot, thus dissociating himself from the callousness of that hesitation. But Moro is still in the saddle. The man who put him there went off to Rome to visit the Pope, in continuation of his religious odyssey which must have a meaning beyond ordinary piety to him.
But in the real sense of the order of democratic norms, it is “we the people” who are supposed to have put him there, and there has been an incessant outcry against his remaining in office. That in itself is a blight on the record of the Jonathan administration, but he does not “give a damn” as long as he can parade himself with priests and prelates all over the globe.
One should no longer bother with the Immigration Minister. We should retain our dignity as a people and distance ourselves from the shame of shameless people.
After all, we have legislators, our representatives, who confirmed his appointment, and who should now need no prompting to represent our views and make it stick. Beyond the provision of good jobs for our youth, Alhaji Abba Moro’s stay in office must, and does, offend our self-worth as a people who are supposed to be in charge of our own affairs.
But let us turn to the larger picture in this matter of the provision of jobs for our youth. The “Prime Minister” — let’s be done with all those convoluted titles which mean the same thing—Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been reeling out figures again. According to her, the jobs that were being provided for came to some one-and-million in number.
That is reckoning from last year. It was not as though nothing was done —o no! As a matter of fact, all but two hundred of those jobs were provided, though it has to be remembered that there has been a backlog of some five million which came down with former years and for which provision still has to be made. But the government was doing its best, although they should try harder, she nicely agreed.
The word that came to mind as a reaction to all that hollow depositon should not be used for a lady.
This is a serious matter. We are talking about human life, human living, which ticks with every second in its existence. We are talking about urgent measures, urgent approaches, to cure a patent ill in the land, and this fine intellectual pretends that she can push all this forward as issues that can wait.
It has ever been so with the grand dame of our economic fortunes to dismiss matters of gripping importance as though with a wave of her fan. Young people are under the throes of perennial frustration.
They have been suffering quietly. Now they are dying openly right before our eyes in the search for a living, and all we can do is to glumly declare that “we have to do more? Where is the “more”?
We see nothing on the ground. “Job creation” is an empty slogan that fills no stomach. For people to work there must be places for them in which to work.
Even if the paltry number of a few thousands advertised as existing in the Immigration had been filled, could any sensible person equate that with the idea of “job creation”?
We are talking here of creativity in tackling an exigency that is spreading shackles around the feet of our development.
There must be a conscious approach embodying innovations and vision of a sustainable timbre. We must have factories in which young hands can strive to achieve a life of quality, in which young minds can thrive to attain a development for future endeavours.
Our sweet speaking Minister of Agriculture should design work for the graduates in agriculture in which to profitably engage on the farm, our Minister of Transport should employ young civil engineers in the building of roads. There are young mechanical engineers that that need factories where they can exercise their skills. Let us have projects, and sites and factories. That is how to try more.
No money? Then stop spending our money on subsidies that do not exist, and through loop-holes that drain our resources, and wasteful trips to see the Pope while our children our dying at home.
We must, however, congratulate President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. The three places offered each beneficiary of those who died during the mad recruitment Immigration riot—sorry, recruitment — came to no less than 57. Well, that’s something.
bumps and pimples
The National Conference— some people still call it “dialogue”— is all set to enter the second week. A few bumps and pimples that emerged at the opening may soon be removed. It had better. The confusion of about five hundred people residing away from their normal terrain may be difficult to contain, and could be devastating to whatever matter they may have in hand.
In this case, we are told it is a matter that affects the unity of the country. That accounts for why many of us are somewhat concerned about the issues that may disrupt meeting, the outlandish number not excluded, and the demand for more allowances for instances.
There are still areas of ethnic groups which have decried the worth of their representation. In fact, a place like Kaduna South laments about its non-inclusion among the delegates.
We would advise, at this time, that wise counsel should prevail in the matter of the voting structure to come to a decision. A two-thirds majority should be acceptable all round.
The so-called “rules of engagement” may also be somewhat toned down. These are not a bunch of errant schoolchildren but mature men and women of various ages, experiences and achievements in life, considered worthy of holing brief for their ethnic group in the consultations considered for the unity of our nation. At the moment, we may not know where we are going but we’ll be there soon.