© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Physically challenged protesters lay siege to NNPC headquarters
The Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) in oil-and-gas-producing communities in Delta State on Monday picketed the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to demand “the emancipation of persons with disabilities in Delta State”.
The scorching sun didn’t stop the group from raising placards, sitting on the floor and angrily stopping motorists from driving in and out of the building, thereby causing traffic gridlock in the area.
Comprising the blind, deaf and crippled, members of the group all wore worried looks. Some of their inscriptions read: “PMB save our souls”, “Give us our right”, “Give us products loading tickets”.
Speaking with the ICIR on behalf of the association, Comrade Njoarinma Raees said their action was all about marginalization.
“The government in general and NNPC in particular is not carrying the physically challenged along,” he said.
“They are not giving us what belongs to us; they’re always telling us that physically challenged will not be given slots because we are not capable.
“There are so many able people, some directors in their offices who don’t do their jobs but just sit at their tables, yet they call other people to do the work they are supposed to be doing. Is the person not physically challenged?
“That we are physically challenged doesn’t mean we are mentally challenged. There are certain things I don’t need to do with my legs; I can do them with my voice and hands.
“According to the constitution, whatever employment or empowerment done in the country, the physically challenged should be given 5%. Presently, we are not getting anything.”
A second protester who asked to remain anonymous said they submitted to the Nigerian National petroleum Corporation (NNPC), a proposal to undertake pipeline surveillance for the government.
“We no get work, even hospital care for our community, nothing wey dem do for us; we even tell them say make dem give us ticket to load tankers to go and sell, they refuse,” he said.
“In April we came here and met with Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources. They (NNPC) promised to do it and till now nothing has been done and now they are depriving us of our right.”
Another protester added that there demands were three: pipeline surveillance job slots, to be taken into skills acquisition centres and to be given petroleum product loading tickets.
When ICIR got to the scene of the protest, Ogbuche Isaac Omoh, Chairman of the association, alongside other representatives, were holding a meeting with the NNPC management while the rest of the protesters remained outside.