Nigerian job stampedes led to the trampling death of 16 job-seekers, desperate to land one of only 5,000 government jobs. Half a million Nigerians showed up at five locations where open applications were being held over the weekend, packing stadiums and overcrowding facilities in a frantic fight for employment.
According to NBC News on Sunday, the economics in Nigeria are dire. Says NBC: “Nigerians are desperate for work, with official statistics putting the unemployed at 24 percent of the 170 million people or nearly 41 million unemployed. Unemployment among young people aged under 24 is even higher — 38 percent according to official statistics and nearer 80 percent according to the World Bank.”
At least 16 individuals died in riotous crowds that were allowed to overfill facilities. Officials expect that death toll to rise.
Nigerian Interior Minister Abba Moro blamed the deaths Saturday, not on a disorganization of the job event, or on a failure in crowd control, but on his own people. Moro said the victims “lost their lives through their impatience.”
Moro was quoted by the official News Agency of Nigeria as saying the applicants “jumped through the fences of affected centers and did not conduct themselves in an orderly manner… This caused stampedes and made the environment unsecured.”
Nigerian activist group the Education Rights Campaign blamed Moro and his ministry cabinet for opening the job invitation to so many individuals at one time, and for allowing Nigerians to pack stadiums that were not meant to hold so many people.
Over 65,000 people were invited to the Abuja National Stadium, home to the Nigerian national football team, which has a capacity to hold only 60,000. Seven of the 16 died there.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the news of the untimely death of the young citizens who were at the exercise not only to secure jobs but to be allowed the opportunity to contribute towards the development of the nation,” said Olisa Metuh, spokesman of Nigeria's ruling People's Democratic party.
According to NBC, “applicants said they each paid 1,000 naira (about $6) — apparently for the right to write tests on Saturday at the application centers. The Education Rights Campaign said it was scandalous that the government had collected about $3 million from applicants and demanded the money be returned.”