· Applicants queue for interview until 10pm
· How OBJ Masked Virgin Nigeria As National Carrier
By Kenneth Jukpor, Okuneye Moyosola & Effi Alphonsus
Over 50,000 Nigerians stormed the offices of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) in Kaduna, Enugu and Lagos, in what was concealed as a secret recruitment exercise by the Corporation in the penultimate week.
Our correspondent gathered that the NRC Management held interviews from 10am to 10pm on Monday May 20th in Zaria, Wednesday, May 22nd in Enugu and Friday, May 25th in Lagos, as applicants who were mostly graduates and Masters’ degree holders trooped to NRC offices at the several states.
The interviews according to the organization are meant principally for qualified graduates willing to work at the newly commissioned standard gauge line located at the Ajaokuta, Itakpe/Onne and Warri lines.
According to MMS Plus sources at NRC, the Managing Director of NRC, Engr. Fidet Okhiria had confided in friends that the job openings were exclusively reserved for indigenes of areas were the newly commissioned standard gauge line cut across, with special emphasis on Kogi, Delta and Rivers states.
However, nearly 20,000 applicants from various parts of the country were onsite at Enugu, Lagos and Zaria respectively and all applicants were interviewed in oral based screening exercises which lasted until 10pm at the three locations.
Although the NRC management was overwhelmed by the turn out of candidates in the supposedly secret recruitment exercise, the management resolved to interview all candidates who showed up at the venue in order to prevent pandemonium that would have ensued from any form of discrimination.
Consequently, texted or invited candidates as well as those who gatecrashed were attended to. However, uncertainty surrounds the exercise as the fate of those uninvited remains unknown.
Observers have expressed dissatisfaction over the recruitment exercise which wasn’t published in the media or via the NRC website, yet it was alleged to have been endorsed by the Minister of Transport, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi.
The manual recruitment exercise is also a strange development as most government agencies have upgraded to the stage of utilizing online platforms for recruitments.
One of the candidates who attended in Ebutte-Metta, Lagos, Mr. John Ogunleye, told our correspondent that he missed the interview at Zaria, where he was on a queue until 10:00pm.
“I was texted for the interview in Zaria but I was not able to do it after waiting on a queue until 10pm. I learnt that the process would continue on Friday, May 23rd in Lagos so I travelled down here to do the interview”, he said.
Ogunleye also revealed that he had links in NRC who had assured him to endeavour to participate in the exercise as that would be enough to enable him seal the job.
Meanwhile, another applicant also in Lagos, Mrs. Tessy Anyakhebe, told our correspondent that she had decided to go for the interview after she got the information from a friend.
“Honestly, I am not sure of being employed but I see it is as a good opportunity to try my luck in these perennial times of youth unemployment. I heard about it and decided to rush down here. Who knows, I might just get in?” she said.
Speaking with MMS Plus on this development, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of NRC, Mr. Mahmood Yakub confirmed that the Corporation had a secret recruitment exercise recently.
The NRC spokesman couldn’t confirm the number of applicants but disclosed that the certain persons were sent text message invitations for the recruitment exercise while thousands of applicants gate-crashed.
“The interview was done in three places; Enugu, Zaria and Lagos. I don’t know the number of candidates that applied or the number needed. The person who can give that information is the Director, Human Resources. That department would know the number of candidates that applied and the number that was invited as well as those who came uninvited who were also interviewed” he said.
How OBJ Masked Virgin Nigeria As National Carrier
Twelve years after Former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration ended, there are indications that the former president fooled Nigerians with the Virgin Nigeria which was privately owned, yet camouflaged as a national carrier project.
Virgin Nigeria which was the nation’s 7th attempt to float a replacement national carrier for the liquidated Nigeria Airways was owned by Obasanjo, Richard Branson and an unnamed third person.
Recall that the establishment of Virgin Nigeria had been perceived as a criminal act of deliberate concealment as Aviation activist, Capt Jerry Agbeyegbe went to court, seeking to stop Virgin Nigeria, but was murdered four days to the case.
A veteran Aviation consultant who was Corporate Affairs Manager of Nigeria Airways, Mr. Chris Aligbe revealed this during an exclusive chat with MMS Plus last week.
“With what has happened in our country in the past such as collapse of airlines and particularly what happened with Virgin Nigeria, the investors demanded for Nigerian government to begin the project before they can invest. Many people didn’t know that Virgin Nigeria was not a national carrier, it was an airline that was owned by three persons. It was owned by Richard Branson of Virgin Group, Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo and one other person” he said.
Aligbe who revealed this while analyzing the prospects and possible challenges of the proposed ‘Nigeria Air’ project also reveal that the ownership of Virgin Nigeria was hidden under UBA Capital.
“The ownership of Virgin Air was hidden under UBA Capital and that is where they used to mask their ownership. However, because of Obasanjo’s position as at then, he made it as if it was a national carrier. It wasn’t a national carrier and the project failed” Aligbe added.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday last week, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, revealed that the Federal Government approved N47.43billion for the ‘Nigeria Air’ project in the 2019 budget.
Sirika disclosed this while explaining that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, was misquoted in reports which stated that he (Amaechi) said the Federal Executive Council was divided over the mode of implementation of the national carrier project.
The aviation minister noted in a statement issued by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Affairs, James Odaudu, that “President Muhammadu Buhari directed that the viability gap funding for the project be provided for in the 2019 Appropriation which the National Assembly had graciously done.”
Meanwhile, private operators have refused to be drawn into the controversy surrounding the proposed national carrier, ‘Nigerian Air’ as well as the mysteries clouding the management of previous national carrier projects.
When contacted on this issue, the Corporate Communications Manager of Air Peace, Mr. Chris Iwarah maintained that he wouldn’t comment on other airlines particularly the proposed national carrier, noting that he would rather focus on the activities of Air Peace.
When asked about his refusal to speak about the project, Iwarah noted that as a private operator he thought he was awful to interfere in the matters of the government.