More than two weeks after a botched recruitment organised by his ministry resulted in the death of 16 applicants, Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, found the humility to apologise to Nigerians.
“Whatever outcome we got from this exercise, positive or negative, I am the minister and I take full responsibility for it,” Moro said, as he lamented the unfortunate deaths.
The News March 15 recruitment exercise organised by the Interior Ministry and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment at the different venues across the country attracted over 525,000 people and shoddy arrangements resulting in a stampede led to the deaths.
Moro, who until now had refused to acknowledge his ministry’s culpability in the deaths said on Sunday: “I want Nigerians to understand the motive and intention behind the entire process of an open and transparent exercise.
“This was the first of its kind in the ministry and it was intended primarily to give employment to Nigerians, irrespective of background and connections,” he stated.
Moro said the decision to conduct the recruitment at stadiums across the country was because the ministry did not want to be accused of job racketeering and to correct the mistakes made in the conduct of previous exercises.
Said the minister: “The deaths of these young Nigerians who would have added value to the human resource of the country is highly regrettable.
“I crave the highest level of understanding of every Nigerian. If we had foreseen these deaths, we would have stopped the exercise,” he added.
According to him, after the botched exercise of 2012, intense preparations for a successful exercise in 2014 commenced with the recruitment board of the ministry meeting many times and decisions about the procedures for conducting the exercise were taken.
Hos words: “If these meetings were held with board members and immigration officers in attendance, how can some persons say now that they were not aware of the procedures leading to the exercise.
“The steering committee helped the board to organise the venue and modalities for the exercise, and immigration told the press on March 6 that the exercise will take place on March 15.
“The Senate committee was the one that approved the date for the exercise and so every stakeholder in the organisation of the exercise knew the date, time and venue for this exercise,” Moro said.
The minster also said that the denial could have stemmed from the outcome of the exercise and fear of the anger Nigerians expressed in the matter, adding that all due procedures in the procurement of mechanisms for the exercise and recommendations made by the Senate committee were followed.
He noted that on March 15, the ministry executed decisions taken and advice given, until circumstances in some centres led to the tragic deaths and that even in the midst of the tragedy, the exercise was successfully conducted in most states.
The embattled minister also denied having any relationship with the consultant that was selected to conduct the e-recruitment.
He stated said: “The board took a decision in its 36th meeting that neither it nor the ministry should be involved in collection of funds.
“So, the collection and use of funds for the online recruitment was the sole responsibility of the consulting firm.
“We did not want to create a scenario where it would seem that the ministry, the board or immigration was taking from the public to enrich government,” he added.
He said that the award of contract to the consultant was done by the tenders board, adding that he was not a member of the board.
The minister appreciated the decision of the Federal Government to compensate victims of the stampede.