[ARTICLE] Lessons From Nigerian Youth Suffering Competition (NYSC)
The title of this piece might sound funny but I mean no fun at all. Given our present condition in Nigeria, the truth must be told no matter how bitter it tastes and someone must be mad enough to give it his/her voice. While my heart bleeds and I sympathise with the families of the 23 job seekers who lost their lives in the recent immigration recruitment exercise, I still feel strongly that no lesson has been learnt.
The NIS recruitment attracted the attention of young Nigerians nationwide more than any other social, political, economic, religious or regional functions ever did; this premised on the fact that a common challenge that regards none of our differences and affiliations as Nigerians is unemployment. But we are yet to face the reality as a nation as we have resolved to fold our arms and say God go judge, when we are supposed to hold our leaders’ legs to the fire. I submit to us that before God judges, many Nigerians must have burnt to cinders in the hell our myopic and kleptomaniac leaders have turned our country to.
God has been so gracious and good to Nigeria. He has giving us large water bodies to be dammed to generate power that triggers industrialisation, sunlight for solar energy, arable land for agriculture, iron ore, gold, crude to meet our PMS need and generate revenue to better the lives of Nigerians and above all, he’s always protected us against natural disasters. If amidst these abundant resources we still expect God to fix things our leaders can fix, then, calling God to come mount a bulldozer to fix our bad roads will not be out of place or better still, we could invite God to contest the 2015 presidential election.
It’s only in Nigeria that young qualified graduates seek spiritual assistance or pay in cash or kind to get employed, yet we’re comfortable because we feel God will judge. Whereas in this same country, a criminal like Tompolo was awarded contract worth N15billion to protect oil pipelines while government is still on its kneels begging Boko Haram members to cease fire and name their price to restore peace in North-east Nigeria. I feel we should ask, is our government for us as democracy dictates? Because it appears it pays to be a criminal than to be a law abiding citizen in Nigeria.
Before now, 13,000 applicants who include 6 Ph.D, 704 Masters and over 8,460 bachelor degree holders applied as Graduate Executive Truck Drivers during Dangote Group’s recruitment. One could imagine how unemployment has severely plagued Nigerian youths for close to 6.5 million Nigerians to have applied for 4,500 job vacancies. It further proves false Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealla’s statement at the International Conference on Emerging Democracies in Africa organised by the National Institute of Legislative Studies in Abuja that youth unemployment in Nigeria is currently at 37%. President Jonathan must wake up from his slumber and stop boasting that his administration created 1.6 million jobs in 2013. We know unemployment predates his administration but the reason he was voted for was not to leave things the way they were or stand as a figurehead while corrupt men and women milk our country dry.
The recruitment jamboree scheduled just for formality while highly connected people have already been employed is what I call, NYSC: National Youth Suffering Competition. It featured: 1. The duplicitous N1000 registration fee, exploited from about 6.5million applicants. A smart person must be able to guess how much was stolen from jobless youths through this. 2. Applicants’ sleepless nights browsing to access the high-traffic site. 3. Internet charges and cost of travelling to examination centres nationwide. Yet, applicants were delayed beyond the scheduled time under the hot weather, horsewhipped and teargassed in some centres and above all, 23 good lives were lost due to stampede, courtesy, poor organisation.
Why are we at this again? In 2008, not less than 20 Nigerian youths lost their lives in similar recruitment madness. This simply means we are twice beaten, an example of a country that lacks direction and never learns from experience. What is the value of the life of a Nigerian youth to our leaders?
Whichever way we like to euphemise the disaster or apportion blames, blaming the stampede on impatience of the job seekers by the Minister of Interior, Abbah Moro is inhuman. Moro, whose children would have gotten the same immigration jobs without writing the exam or written same in the comfort of their home if they found themselves in the same tight corner job seekers in Nigeria have found themselves, lacks respect for human lives to have blamed the disaster on the job seekers’ impatience. Who else should be impatient if not the poor, deprived and unemployed Nigerian youths? This reveals how our leaders call us fools despite the agony they have caused us because we sheepishly resign to fate.
The public’s call for Moro’s head is no answer to the unemployment question on ground, holding our government responsible and standing our ground until something is done about unemployment should be our collective agitation rather than getting lost in the blame game. Not even the automatic employment offers for family members of the deceased and injured applicants should pacify us.