ABUJA: At least seven people were killed and dozens more injured in Nigeria’s capital Abuja on Saturday after thousands of panicked job-seekers stampeded during a government recruitment drive at the national stadium.
Survivors said that thousands had gathered to apply for jobs with the immigration department in the Abuja stadium.
One witness said the stampede broke out as applicants surged towards a central stage. They said only one entrance to the 60,000-capacity stadium was open. It was unclear how many people were inside at the time of the crush.
The public hospital was forced to turn victims away due to a lack of capacity, according to spokesman Tayo Haastrup.
The recruitment drive was being held at several stadiums around the country on Saturday.
President Goodluck Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party said it was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the deaths of “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”.
Already Africa’s top oil producer, Nigeria is predicted to soon replace South Africa as the continent’s biggest economy, but recognition is growing that the landmark will be largely symbolic and do little to address major problems.
On paper, the future looks bright for Nigeria: the International Monetary Fund has forecast 7.4 percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014, up from an estimated 6.2 percent last year.
But the healthy growth figures reflect the country’s unhealthy dependence on the oil sector, which provides minimal employment in Africa’s most populous nation.