By Benjamin Umuteme
Work was paralyzed at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Headquarters in Abuja when persons with disabilities from the oil producing communities in the Niger Delta yesterday barricaded the entrance of the Corporation over alleged marginalisation.
The grouse of the protesters, who also blocked one of the lanes of Herbert Macaulay Way in the Central Business District, is that they have been excluded from various programmes of the corporation in the Niger Delta region.
This protest, which caused panic for motorists, attracted heavy security presence to the tower and obstructed activities at the corporation.
Delta State Chairman, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Obruche Omor, said they (physically challenged persons) were neglected in economic empowerment, employment slot, pipeline surveillance job, opportunity to load petroleum products as well as in skill empowerment.
Omor said the corporation, especially through its refinery in Warri, has continued to oppress and intimidate persons with disabilities in its programmes.
“We have people, who always go there to get tickets for loading but persons with disabilities have been excluded…’
The worse situation is that we are told some people are special and that whatever approval they get is from NNPC headquarter5.
“We have followed the rule of law and every diplomatic channel to ensure that this matter is resolved. We wrote to the GM Public Affairs, to the GMD, and the Minister, Ibe Kachukwu. We even wrote letters of protest.
“We were here in April and Kachukwu said the corporation would look into the issue but nothing happened. We informed NNPC before we embarked on the protest but it is still paying lips service.
“Those who are been given opportunities are not better than us. What we are saying is that we need equal opportunity. Disability can happen to anyone at anytime. Some of us here were not born like this,” Omor stated.
He further lamented the poor treatment of disables in the country, insisting that negligence of persons with disability remained a time bomb waiting to explode.