Nigeria never ceases to amaze me. Unarguably, this must be one of the best countries to practice journalism because like is the common saying in the fourth estate of the realm, “Bad news is good news because bad news sells” and indeed in Nigeria they never seems to be a dearth of bad news.
Without going too far back in time, it only takes a little re-examination of some of the issues that have made major headlines with just about 180 days into the turn of the New Year.
Nigerians all arose in the New Year with the developing story of fuel subsidy removal and were immediately faced with its imminent concomitant challenges, then came the anticipated furore and public outcry leading to a nationwide strike which brought about the grounding of the socio–economic life of the nation.
Just when we were taking respite in the N97 compromise between Government and labour and the return to normally in every facet of life, the Boko Haram sect commenced their incendiary acts which till date leaves sorrow, tears and blood. Then came the drama of the budget defence and the bribery scandal involving the Securities and Exchange Commission and the House of representatives Committee that was set up to oversee it.
Then the failed rescue attempt of the kidnapped foreigners, then the shame on the Justice sector brought about by the guilty plea and subsequent sentencing of James Ibori (Former Governor of Delta state) by a London Court, then the erroneous name change of the University of Lagos, then the unforgettable June 3rd Dana Air crash that has left an indelible spot on our nation’s time-line, then of course the fuel subsidy Oil Probe report.
The litany of issues seems endless, but of all the sectors of the nation, it seems it’s the Oil sector that can’t get out of the public domain.
While the Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Allison Maduekwe’s assiduous efforts at revamping the egregious sector are highly commendable, the oil and gas sector of the nation since the turn of the year still seem to be in an insalubrious state suffering from inexplicable asphyxiation.
The stability in the sector which has seen an increase in the amounts of barrels of oil produced per day is highly commendable and her other efforts in ensuring petroleum products availability are highly plausible.
But regrettably, the mass media more often than not is usually agog with doleful news emanating from the sector, most of which could have been easily avoided.
From increase in pump price occasioned by fuel subsidy removal, agitation over the delay in passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, a certain call for her removal earlier in the year, bribery allegations over the house of reps fuel subsidy report and continuous oil theft in the Niger Delta, the plethora of issues seem unending. And now questionable recruitment!
In March 2010 the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) publicly advertised vacancies through a consulting firm Era Professional Services (EraProserve) for different cadres of required skilled and unskilled personnel.
In furtherance of its pursuit to recruit, two sets of aptitude tests were conducted at different times in the year 2010. The first of which was on the 12th of June (while most Nigerians were glued to their Television sets, thrilled and entertained by the Nigeria/Argentina match in the then ongoing FIFA World Cup, a collection of Nigerian youths spread across the various center’s nationwide were scrabbling with answer sheets in the pursuit of their dream careers) and the second took place on the 4th of December 2010 (almost six months later).
In May of the preceding year 2011, the DPR assembled the successful applicants from all over the nation for a one-month thorough and intensive interview which led to the list of successful candidates sent to the Federal Character Commission for ratification and approval.
It is interesting to note, that for both the aptitude tests and interview , applicants had to travel from all across the globe (some suspending their overseas Msc programmes) and different nooks and crannies of the nation to attend the aptitude test without any form of financial reimbursement.
But all that is in the past as the present speaks volumes for itself. The applicants who created for themselves an online forum as a means of interaction and information sharing recently had to “mark” a two- year wait on their dream job. This are on the heels of a few things that gives one a further source of concern such as; a merit list that has been sent and approved by the Federal Character Commission (FCC) , a Presidency that places job creation as one of its most utmost priorities, a Department and Ministry of Petroleum Resources Budget Defence that generated so much rancour during the various budget defence hearings and was only approved because in defence to the budget, “a certain number of new intakes are been expected”.
It is more mind boggling, heart breaking and pitiful to know that the UNEMPLOYED awaiting online hopefuls after countless prayer sessions are in the process of contributing their meager resources to finance a full page publication in one of the major newspapers so as to appeal to the relevant authorities to bring the recruitment to an end in their favour.
Other initial ideas such as a peaceful walk across the nation were reneged on due to the present security situation in the country.
With the rising cases of oil theft in the Niger Delta and a widely acknowledged under- staffed DPR and with a concluded recruitment and recruitment funds approved in the 2012 budget and half of the year gone already, the continual delay in the release of appointment letters to successful candidates leaves one bemused and in a state of utter bewilderment.
More so, when the NNPC applicants whose recruitment process only commenced last year (2011) and whose list of successful candidates was not sent to the Federal Character Commission (FCC) have already been issued their offer letters of employment. It leaves one wondering therefore, is this a ploy by the management to have funds approved for a recruitment exercise, have this tax payers fund expended on the guise of an unarguably thorough recruitment only to have the recruitment go ‘cold’ and vacancies filled up through the ‘back-door’ by less qualified but ‘connected’ individuals at the expense of the more qualified and deserving candidates?
Should such trivial things like recruitment become issues competing on the front burner as headline news? Has it become a disadvantage to be part of a list of merited candidates whose recruitment followed due process and was sent to the FCC unlike the recent NNPC employees?
While we commend the DPR for identifying the loopholes within their system in terms of manpower and further commend the efforts of Ministry of Petroleum Resources Diezani Allison Maduekwe, we however humbly request that the successful candidates be called up to serve their father land with the hard earned knowledge they toiled to attain in their tortuous years in the University and National Youth Service.