The Honourable Minister of Interior, comrade Patrick Abba Moro, and the Nigeria Immigration Service are in the news again – still on the very bad side as almost always. Not too long ago, it was the same Nigeria Immigration Service then under the leadership of Mrs. Rose Chinyere Uzoma that allegedly recruited over four thousand officers into the Service which we (Nigerians) were later told did not go down well with the Honourable Minister, comrade Abbah Moro, and members of the Board of Nigeria Immigration, Fire Service, Civil Defence and Prison Service, reportedly because of the failure of Mrs. Uzoma to abide by the due process guiding such an exercise. As was the question then which still desires to be addressed, if the Honourable Minister, who at the time was reported to be ignorant of the happenings pertaining to his ministry vis-a-vis the recruitment racketeering that rocked the Nigeria Immigration Service under the control of Mrs. Rose Uzoma, was a member of the foregoing board or ably represented at the time by a proxy, then how on earth would comrade Abbah Moro ever exonerate himself from the subsisting public impression that he was the leader of the people who masterminded the recruitment scam under Mrs. Uzoma? And like I did submit at the time that “comrade Abba Moro could hardly be isolated from the scam since it allegedly took place under the ministry he oversees and as such has lost or rather lacked the necessary moral ground to be the one to set up a panel to investigate Mrs. Uzoma” (see Daily Independent of January 24, 2013 under the rubric: Issues in the Immigration investigation Panel).
However, if the ugly incident of the last few days (March 15, 2014, to be precise) arising from the tragedy called the Nigeria Immigration Service recruitment test which saw the death of no less than fifteen persons, including pregnant mothers, amounts to anything serious in the estimation of the government of President Goodluck Jonathan, then one is inclined to think that comrade Abba Moro has no more business presiding over the affairs of the Ministry of Interior. To begin with, how do we rationalize a situation whereby the Nigeria Immigration Service under his watchful eyes decided to go the whole hog of “extorting” the sum of one thousand naira each from millions of unemployed Nigerian youths all in the name of giving them hope of being considered qualified to participate in the recruitment test that unfortunately ended up consuming the precious lives of scores of them? Of course, hearing it from the Honourable minister that no less than four thousand, five hundred and fifty six thousand vacancies were apparently what Jonathan-led government has approved for recruitment into the Nigeria Immigration Service, one wonders with hindsight why Mr. Abba Moro and his board members – saddled with the recruitment responsibility – went as far as allowing the sale of millions of recruitment forms to job seekers for more than three weeks. It is though understandable that these job applicants were not forced to purchase these recruitment forms, the truth of the matter is that the Honourable Minister under whose jurisdiction and/or supervision this glaring case of extortion took place can hardly be free from complicity in the loss of lives of our fellow compatriots struggling to become useful and responsible by attending this ill-fated Immigration recruitment exercise.
Bad enough, as if the demise of these promising young Nigerians was of no consequence or something worth trifling with, the Honourable Minister while being interviewed on the Nigeria Television Authority did make a statement to the effect that some of those who died before the exercise were squarely responsible for their deaths. Little wonder that this seemingly careless remark provoked different headlines in the national dailies. And as one daily aptly captured and captioned it, “You killed yourselves – Honourable Minister of interior”. Agreed that one way or the other, some of these victims of immigration recruitment exercise may have through their actions and/or inactions contributed to the fate they suffered, but do we really need/expect a responsible minister of Federal Republic of Nigeria to callously blurt out such gaffe all in an attempt to blame these hapless Nigerians, even at the expense of considering the farcical arrangement put in place for the recruitment test? Now come to think of it, considering the nature of seats and the seating arrangement that characterized the venue, is the national stadium a conducive/befitting place meant for such exercise? If indeed the Honourable minister of Interior and members of the Board of Nigeria Immigration, fire Service, Civil Defence and Prison Service did not in their inner most hearts consider the recruitment exercise a mere formality orchestrated to be used as a ploy to justify the (mis)appropriation of the huge proceeds accruable from the sale of millions of Immigration recruitment forms, why then did they not deem it necessary and convenient for the applicants to stagger the recruitment test, at least bearing in mind the fact of different categories of job applicants alongside their qualifications? Or, better still, why must all categories be subjected to the test on the same day and at the same time and venue?
Incidentally, it is one speculation still making rounds that the consulting firm that handled the entire exercise has the wives of comrade Abba Moro and that of the Senate President, His Excellency, distinguished Senator David Mark as the key vested interest. But whether this is true or false, it remains quite unfair going by media reports that the Nigeria Immigration Service was not adequately carried along in an exercise that originally belongs to it. Even though comrade Abbah Moro has quickly denied these allegations, particularly the one bordering on the outsourcing of the entire exercise to a consultancy firm allegedly belonging to Senator David Mark’s wife, it is high time Nigerians be told the naked truth as to the real names of the owners of this malfunctioning firm whose farcical arrangement occasioned the untimely and avoidable deaths of scores of job seeking Nigerians. This matter is such that we must not trifle with it and neither does it make sense for us to still pretend that all is well. This is the time to call a spade a spade.
In the circumstance, however, it is instructive to state the obvious. The Honourable minister of Interior, comrade Abbah Moro, just like in the previous case of Mrs. Rose Chinyere Ozoma, stands unqualified to be the person to institute a panel of inquiry into the circumstances of the travails of these young Nigerians who sustained various degrees of injuries as well as those who died while striving to participate in the recruitment exercise. For one thing, comrade Abba Moro could not have concluded based on whatever preliminary reports hastily made available to him by whoever that claimed that the victims of this recruitment tragedy were responsible for their ordeal due mainly to what Moro branded “lack of patience” on their part. Yet here he goes again, this same man is now tinkering with the idea of constituting the so-called high powered panel to investigate and unravel what he has already told us was the primary cause of the alleged stampede that precipitated the regrettable deaths of these hapless job seekers.
But lest forget, leaving/entrusting the Honourable minister of Interior with such task to set up a panel to dispassionately look into the remote and immediate causes of the misfortune that befell job applicants at the various centers of the Immigration recruitment test is clearly tantamount to putting the would-be members of the intended panel under brief to re-echo what we have already heard from comrade Patrick Abba Moro. This is why it has become imperative for President Goodluck Jonathan to swiftly step in and do the needful by instituting a presidential panel that would rather carry out a thorough and objective inquiry in this regard, with a view to redeeming the increasingly dwindling fortune and image of his government. A stitch in time saves nine.
Onyiorah Chiduluemije Paschal (08037738607),