The Nigerian military has given a recipe on how to conduct death and stampede-free mass recruitments in the country.
This comes barely a week after 17 job-seekers lost their lives and several others were wounded in stampedes at the Nigerian Immigration Service’s recruitment centres across the country.
Responding to a PREMIUM TIMES enquiry, the Director of Defence Information, Chris Olukolade, said the military does not compromise on merit in its recruitment process.
He said relevant Information Technology applications are used to weed out unqualified applicants before the actual recruitment exercise.
Mr. Olukolade, a Major General in the Nigerian Army said, “Once we receive applications, we screen each one and eliminate those who are not eligible to apply in the first place. That helps us to prune down the number of candidates.
“With the advent of IT, the process of screening is helped by technology. The computer sorts out those who do not meet the criteria for applying. While doing this, it depersonalizes the process because it cannot be accused of eliminating unqualified candidates because it does not like their faces.
“We then proceed to the next stage during which we shortlist eligible candidates for screening. We check the credentials they present to determine their genuineness. More candidates are dropped at this stage.”
After sorting out genuine credentials of the applicants, Mr. Olukolade said successful candidates are subjected to physical and medical screening during which many more people are eliminated.
Continuing, he said, “Those who passed the physical and medical screening now move on to the final phase: the written examination.
“The gradual elimination of candidates that takes place in each of the stages leaves only a few making it to the end of the process.”
With the stringent and systematic weeding that take place at different levels of the recruitment, the number of applicants who physically congregate on any spot for recruitment is drastically reduced, Mr. Olukolade said.
He added, “Our recruitments are also highly decentralized so we ensure that only a few people gather at any one place.
“That way, we have been able to avoid incidents during recruitment exercises.
“I also like to add that recruitment into the armed forces is done in strict compliance with the Nigerian quota system. We take the places of origin of candidates into consideration.”
At least 17 job seekers died and several more were wounded on Saturday in stampedes across Nigerian cities as hundreds of thousands of applicants overran recruitment centres as they struggled to access locked venues.
The more than 520,000 applicants were made to pay N1, 000 each for their registration.
Outraged Nigerians have called for the minister’s sack, as well as the removal of the Comptroller-General of Immigration, David Parradang.
The Nigerian government said the exercise has been cancelled and that a committee will oversee another test.
President Goodluck Jonathan promised an investigation in a brief mention of the tragedy on Monday.
In 2008, no fewer than 20 applicants died in various states of the federation during a similar exercise conducted for the Nigeria Prisons Service, the Customs Service and the immigration service.
But while immigration and other para-military outfits have continued to falter in their recruitment programme, the Nigerian military and the police have continued to conduct incident-free mass recruitments.
In October 2013, the Nigerian Army began the massive recruitment to tackle the security challenge in the country.
Already, over 9,000 soldiers have been recruited all over the country in the processes which have largely been incident-free.
This post is supported by the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, funded by DFID and managed by a consortium led by the British Council
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