NIS: Senate gives committee one week to probe recruitment tragedy

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The Senate on Tuesday in Abuja ordered its Committee on Interior to investigate the nationwide recruitment exercise of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) that resulted in the death of 16 applicants.

A member of the committee told Naija247news.com that the time frame for the submission of the report is one week

The Senate also urged the Federal Government to come up with a “marshall plan’’ to address the unemployment problem in the country.

The Senate, while regretting the loss of lives and the several injuries sustained by applicants, mandated the committee to hold a public hearing on the issue within the one week ultimatum.

The mandate followed a “Point of Order’’ on “Matter of Urgent National Importance’’ raised by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Interior, Sen. Atiku Bagudu, at Tuesday’s plenary.

Bagudu observed that as a result of the cancellation of the exercise in 2013, the NIS contracted, Drexel Technical Global, a consulting firm, to provide an online platform for applicants.

The firm thereafter imposed a charge of N1, 000 per applicant.

“An attempt was made to conduct the recruitment exercise by the former Comptroller-General, Mrs Rosemary Uzoma, but was cancelled in 2013 because the conduct became controversial.

“The introduction of consultants and the charging of N1000 are new. 700,772 were said to have applied nationwide with 70,000 applicants registered for the Abuja test centre,’’ he said.

Bagudu said the public hearing was necessary so that Nigerians would follow the process that would eventually lead to any recommendation by the committee.

He said the motion did not pray for cancellation of the recruitment exercise because it did not want to pre-empt the outcome of the investigation in any way.

“We did not call for cancellation because we felt any investigation should not be judgmental.

“That is why we prayed that the Senate allows a public hearing to take place so that Nigerians will see the process which will lead to any recommendations that we may call for,” he said.

In his contribution, Sen. Sola Adeyeye (APC-Osun), urged the Senate to shun partisanship and come together to find a lasting solution to the problem of unemployment affecting the citizens.

“We must put our heads together to find a solution to the problem of unemployment. Our people must begin to put the fire under the feet of our leaders.

“If we don’t address this problem accordingly, a time will come when the youth may rise in revolution against us the leaders,’’ Adeyeye said.

The Deputy Senate Leader, Sen. Abdul Ningi, said the Senate must engage itself with taking actions that would engender the creation of jobs across the country.

“We must not reduce this incident to an issue of politics. It is our collective failure, guilt and responsibility that brought that tragedy.

“We should concern ourselves to doing the needful to create employment, Maybe 20 per cent of the national income should be set aside annually to address the problem of unemployment,’’ he said.

Sen. Ita Enang (PDP-Akwa Ibom) canvassed that a state of emergency should be declared in the employment sector.

Enang also called for serious scrutiny into the employment component of the SURE-P, which he said, was not delivering the desired result in the area of job creation.

“I pray that we declare a state of emergency in the employment sector. We need to see the records of jobs created across the states under the SURE-P employment component.

“What we are facing and what is standing before us is worse than a revolution. Unemployment level in the country is capable of causing a revolution,’’ Enang warned.

Also contributing, Sen. Smart Adeyemi (PDP-Kogi), called for urgent restructuring of the country to enable component units deploy their resources to address peculiar problems.

He decried the high level of nepotism which had become the norm in recruitment exercise within the public and private sectors in the country.

“We must restructure this country so that it is not the Federal Government only that is creating jobs. We do not have to be uniform in our development process.

“Ministers should be summoned on a quarterly basis to explain the number of jobs their ministries have created to alleviate unemployment in the country,’’ Adeyemi said.

Sen. Abdulkadir Jajere (APC-Yobe) described the engagement of a consultant to handle recruitment for a para-military organisation as a breach of the national security.

“It is a security breach for a para-military organisation to contract a consultant for its recruitment exercise. This does not augur well for our national security,’’ Jajere said.

Sen. Olubunmi Adetunmbi (APC-Ekiti), blamed the high level of unemployment in the country on the failure of the economy to create jobs because it was not expanding.

Adetunmbi called for the devolution of powers to the states to enable them use their resources to develop those sectors that would have direct impact on the people.

“We don’t need any forensic audit to know that we are suffering policy failure.Our economy is not creating jobs because it is not working.

“States will begin to create jobs when some of the responsibilities are devolved to the states by the Federal Government,’’ Adetunmbi said.

In his contribution, Sen. Gbenga Ashafa (APC-Lagos), called for an audit of all the jobs purported to have been created by Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).

“There should be a forensic audit of all the jobs claimed to have been created by government ministries and agencies.

“This will help us know the actual number of jobs generated by the government,’’ Ashafa said.

The Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over Tuesday’s plenary, stressed the need to create more jobs as well as provide social security for jobless citizens.

Ekweremadu  condoled with the families that lost their members in the exercise, and hailed them as patriots who died in their bid to serve the nation.

“We must do all that needs to be done to ensure that we increase the quantity of employment opportunities for our people.

“So, there is need for us to provide a social security network for those who are unemployed or out of employment so that we can all be our brothers’ keepers,’’ Ekweremadu said.

The Senate condoled with the families of those that lost their lives and observed a one minute  silence in their honour.