- Title: NIGERIA: Deadly job recruitment stampede highlights Nigeria's unemployment burden
- Date: 24th March 2014
- Summary: LAPTOP SCREEN READING: "ONLINE RECRUITMENT PORTAL"
- Embargoed: 8th April 2014 13:00
- Location: Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVABTDRIS9WQZVHOPUG90W3ROIND
- Story Text: Twenty eight-year-old Ukadike Chisom has been searching for a job since he graduated with a higher diploma in Estate Management Technology in 2011 from Imo State University in south east Nigeria.
Today he lives with his elder sister in the commercial capital, Lagos where he spends his days searching for formal work of any kind.
"It has been a very difficult one, because you keep searching, you keep submitting CVs and they keep turning you down, you know. It has not been an easy one," he said.
Chisom was among hundreds of thousands who crammed stadiums nationwide about a week ago for a recruitment examination for the immigration service. The exercise turned fatal after at least 7 of the jobseekers were killed in a stampede in Abuja. Local media put the death toll at 15 across the country.
"We got there quite early enough, and they were unable to do anything, people were suffocating, we were even lucky in our centre non died but like eleven casualties... in the long run they were given medication there you know to survive, but what... the most annoying part of it is that I think they have already gotten, made provision for their own candidates and they are just doing it to fulfill all righteousness," said Chisom.
While the Service was looking to fill about 4,500 vacancies nationwide, examination centres like the Abuja National Stadium with about 60,000 seats was filled to capacity.
The incident shows the desperation for jobs in Africa's second biggest economy and most populous nation, where oil wealth has enriched the elite and grown the economy by more than 6 percent a year, but has failed to create employment.
There has been anger across the country not only over the deaths but also over the way the exercise was carried out. Some online publications highlight the lack of organisation and how the applicants had to write the exams.
Protesters took to the streets in Lagos.
Chinedu Ekeke, a public affairs analyst and blogger says Nigeria needs to curb corruption so that funds can be invested in development that creates jobs.
Nigeria is currently in the middle of a high-profile corruption scandal where 20 billion US dollars went missing from oil revenues.
"If you want to handle unemployment, number one is that the government has to realize that it is a serious issue, it is a ticking bomb, and it's waiting for us. Invest massively in public works, invest massively in infrastructure. Where are we going to get the money from? Curb corruption. 20 billion dollars is missing, we know how much we lose to crude oil theft every day, block the loopholes," said Ekeke.
Some experts say there needs to be a diversification in education to help deal with the massive unemployment.
Nigeria was once regarded as the one of the best destinations for higher education in Africa. Universities in Ibadan and Nsukka were globally recognized.
However, the country's history cast several shadows on its education system, from political interventions under successive military governments and strategic appointments in the 90's, to various financial constraints after a dramatic fall in oil prices in the 80's and the sector has never recovered.
Earlier this year, the West African Examination Council introduced 39 new subjects to its curriculum to include practical training in painting, plumbing, upholstery, decorating, and photography among others, as part of an initiative to promote entrepreneurship.
Critics of the plan, which takes effect this year have raised concerns that there are not enough qualified teachers for these subjects but the council says the initiative followed extensive research in improving the secondary school curriculum.
Derin Ologbenla, an associate professor of Political Science at the University of Lagos says vocational training is valuable for Nigeria's youth but there must be enough avenues to financially support entrepreneurs.
"There is a need for curriculum overhauling throughout the university system so that we can get the benefit of new ideas and new initiatives for people to be more self reliant, but again it is not easy to be self reliant because of financial difficulties. If you want to stand on your own two feet where is the finance going to come from? How are you going to get the capital to start your business?"
The Federal government has offered jobs to the families of those who died or were injured in the stampede.
The number of Nigerians living in poverty and unable to afford food and shelter has risen to about 60 percent even as growth is forecast to increase at 6 percent, faster than Africa's biggest economy, South Africa.
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