Lawmakers failed to ask Minister Abba Moro why he signed a rogue deal that allowed a consultant keep all the funds raised from applicants.
A shocking agreement allowing a recruiter handpicked by Nigeria’s interior minister, Abba Moro, to exploit Nigerians seeking Immigration Service jobs, and not deploy the nearly N1 billion raised for the applicants’ screening, surprisingly missed out from a line of questioning from lawmakers probing the deaths of 19 of the job seekers last week.
For more than six hours that the Senate committee on interior, headed by Abubakar Bagudu, grilled Mr. Moro, immigration officials, the board supervising Immigration, and a representative of Drexel Technology Nigeria Limited, the firm that provided online services for the exams, lawmakers refused to asked Mr. Moro about the terms of the agreement.
Central to the irony of how the recruiters raised so much but had no funds for the test is a puzzling agreement stating that despite collecting the huge funds from the applicants, Drexel Limited will not pay for the examinations. The ministry, which had no budgetary provision, will be responsible, the pact said.
But for hours that the minister spent taking questions from senators last Thursday, no lawmaker pressed him about the authors of the rogue agreement, its motive, or whether government lawyers took part in its drafting.
The closest the lawmakers came to asking that question was when they raised concerns about the lack of funds for the exams.
Lawmakers probing Mr. Tapgun asked whether that did not indicate the government had lost control of a firm it claimed to have hired. Stuttering repeatedly and shifting his gaze, the board secretary gave no solid response. He merely said he arrived at his post to meet a standard and wished to retain that standard.
But when the minister, Mr. Moro, whom other officials accused of taking all decisions alone, took the podium, those or similar questions were not asked.
Lawmakers instead asked the minister to merely confirm whether it was true he acted alone and did not consult with the board supervising the Immigration Service. There was no query regarding how such an alarming agreement was arrived at.
Defending his decisions, Mr. Moro said the lawmakers and Nigerians should, before arriving at any judgement, be cognizant of his intention for the exercise which he said was to cleanse a system ridden with corruption, job racketeering and nepotism in the past.
He said his board and the ministry decided to meet with Drexel after the test to reconcile the financial issues arising from the agreement, and at one point said he should seize the opportunity of the hearing to correct Nigerians on the real name of the company.