JAF said government is culpable in the death of applicants at the March NIS recruitment.
The Joint Action Front, JAF, has demanded that the Nigerian government start the payment of unemployment benefits to all unemployed people in the country.
The group made their demands at a rally in Lagos, Thursday, organised in solidarity with “more than 50 million unemployed Nigerians across the country.”
JAF, a coalition of civil society organisations, also demanded for compensation for the families of all dead and injured applicants at the March 15 Nigeria Immigration Service recruitment test, as well as a refund of the N1,000 collected from the applicants and reimbursement for the expenses they incurred for the tests.
“Our position in JAF on the tragic incident of the death of scores of applicants during the Nigeria Immigration Service job recruitment exercises of March 15, 2014, is that governments at all levels (federal, state, and local), irrespective of political parties are culpable because they failed to provide decent jobs and enabling opportunities for gainful employments,” JAF said in a statement jointly signed by Oladipo Fashina and Abiodun Aremu, Chairperson and Secretary respectively.
“All the governments in the country are subscribed to the anti-poor neo-liberal capitalist agenda which create the conditions for unemployment, closure of industries, dependence on imported products including fuel, job insecurity, under employment, cheap and slave labour, casualization, poor wages and anti-workers policies.”
The rally began at the secretariat of the Nigeria Civil Service Union in Alausa, with the participants bearing placards and chanting solidarity songs as they marched for two hours, under the scorching sun, towards Ikeja roundabout.
JAF’s Deputy Chairperson, Achike Chude, called for the arrest and prosecution of those involved in the immigration recruitment tragedy.
“They should be prosecuted. And if they are found guilty of the manslaughter of Nigerians, they should be sent to jail. It is as simple as that. The culture of impunity that has enveloped this country should stop. That is the demand we are making and they have no choice because we have said that the federal government has an obligation. The primary responsibility of government as stated in the Nigerian Constitution is for the security and welfare of Nigerian citizens. That welfare includes access to jobs. It is the right of the people,” said Mr. Chude.
An unemployed person, Adebisi Adewole, who said that he had been unable to secure a decent job since his graduation in 2002, called on President Goodluck Jonathan to commence a social security allowance for Nigerians if Mr. Jonathan did not want “hungry people to become angry.”
“We have no food, no money, we cannot go to hospital, and we don’t want to steal. We don’t want to join Boko Haram. Jonathan should please help us, we are dying in silence. I graduated 2002 and I finished my service 2005 in Abia State. Up till now I have no meaningful job. It’s a job of N15,000, N20,000 from private schools; how can I cope with that, with two children? As I’m talking to you now, no food in my house,” said Mr. Adewole.
The rally had aimed at mobilising thousands of unemployed youths in Lagos, to send a strong message to the government, but only a handful turned up on Thursday morning.
Mr. Aremu said that it was just an “awareness rally.”
“Today is to give courage to the Nigerian people that if you don’t come out to fight for your right, you can never enjoy freedom,” said Mr. Aremu. “You cannot get that job unless you fight for it. You cannot be empowered by staying on the sideline.”
A member of the National Conscience Party, NCP, Ayodele Akele, said that he was disappointed with the low turnout of the youth.
“Most of the youths we invited are not here. If APC or PDP is having a rally here today, this place is going to be jam packed. It is time for you to take your fate into your hands,” Mr. Akele, a former gubernatorial candidate in the state, added.