Physically challenged persons protest at NNPC over jobs

There was heavy security presence at the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in Abuja on Monday as physically challenged persons besieged the oil firm to stage a protest.

It was gathered that the protesters were members of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, Delta State Chapter, who demanded that the NNPC should fulfil its promise of providing jobs for physically challenged people.

 The protesters, who were more than 50 in number, displayed various placards in front of the headquarters of the corporation, a development that made security operatives from the Department of State Services, the police and the Nigerian Army to block the section of the dual carriage road that directly leads into the oil firm.

A riot police tank was used to block the particular section of the road that leads into the corporation, while several pick-up trucks with fully armed security personnel in them were strategically located close to the venue where the protesters staged their protest.

Many security officers were also on ground and they barricaded the protesters from gaining entry into the national oil firm.

It was gathered that senior members of the association were later invited into the corporation for a meeting.

The physically challenged protesters stayed in front of the oil firm for several hours. Some of them moved about using their crutches and wheelchairs, while others crawled on the floor as they demanded for job opportunities at the corporation.

“We are tired of the many promises of the NNPC management when it comes to providing us with jobs. We were here some months ago and they promised us, but since that time in April, nothing has been done,” one of the protesters, who simply identified himself as Austin, said.

The association’s Chairman, Isaac Obruche, and some executive members of the group were said to have met with senior officials of the NNPC.

But efforts to get Obruche to speak on the reason for the protest and the outcome of the meeting were not successful, as he did not answer calls to his phone. He also did not reply to a text message sent to him on the matter.

Speaking on the development, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, told our correspondent that the protesters also demanded that they be allowed to lift crude oil.

He stated, “It is the right of every Nigerian to make some demands and requests. However, when it comes to jobs, there are processes and procedures. We have some physically challenged persons on our staff list and virtually all of them are from the Niger Delta. They (protesters) visited few months ago and said they would like to lift crude oil.

“We addressed them and told them that the matter was being looked into. These demands are issues that require some time and they must undergo processes and procedures. As we speak now, the NNPC has not lifted embargo on recruitment. If you are talking about lifting crude oil, it is a competitive exercise and you must bid for it. Now, do they have the funds to lift crude oil or other products?”

On the increased security presence at the corporation, Ughamadu explained, “Security is always tight at the NNPC as a national oil corporation. Security there has nothing to do with them (protesters). Will we use maximum force on the physically challenged? Security is always tight here.”