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Employment : Physically challenged people protest at NNPC, lament exclusion

…Protesters seek revocation of OPL 245

By Michael Eboh

A group of physically challenged persons, under the auspices of Physically Challenged Applicants of Nigeria, yesterday, held a protest at the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, calling for inclusion in the ongoing recruitment exercise of the corporation.

fFile Photo: ASCEND is not a political party as it is only poised to see that good governance which also sees to the welfare of the physically challenged is brought to Nigerians

The group lamented that the recruitment exercise did not accommodate physically challenged people, especially blind people and others with other forms of disabilities.

Addressing newsmen, President of the Physically Challenged Applicants of Nigeria, Mr. Godstime Onyegbulam, said the association had written to the NNPC several times over the ongoing recruitment exercise, noting, however, that the NNPC had consistently ignored its letters.

He bemoaned the fact that in the online application form, there were no provision to identify the specific disabilities a candidate might have, while he added that during their numerous attempts to visit the NNPC to engage management of the corporation, security personnel attached to the NNPC had always embarrassed their members.

He said, “There is a law in Nigeria that states that five per cent of every opportunities should be reserved for physically challenged people and we are here to ensure that the NNPC comply with that law.

“We also want to know why there were no provisions for physically challenged people in the recruitment exercise. Irrespective of our various disabilities, we are qualified to work anywhere, even in the NNPC. There are gadgets that help me and some of my members to work. For instance, though blind, I can work; I can type and read. We have these gadgets and we can do any job.

The physically challenged people disrupted activities at the NNPC in Abuja for a few minutes and it took the efforts of security personnel attached to the corporation and after several appeals, before they allowed free movement of vehicles and persons into the corporation.

In a related development, another group led by the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, CSNAC, also staged a protest to the NNPC, demanding the immediate revocation of Oil Prospecting License, OPL, 245 allocated to Malabu, which was later sold Shell and Eni.

The protester also called for the prosecution of individuals involved in the controversial deal.

Some of the protesters carried placards with the inscriptions: “OPL 245: Nigeria stand to lose $6 billion”; “OPL 245: Etete, Adoke should face justice”, “Stop OPL Shell & Eni to deprive Nigeria of $6 billion.”

Speaking on behalf of the protesters, National Coordinator, National Malabu Awareness Coalition, Shina Odugbemi stated that six years ago, reports were rife that one of Nigeria’s richest oil field, OPL 245, was sold in shady circumstances.

He pointed out that the former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, who was convicted for money laundering in France owned Malabu Oil and Gas adding that he had registered the company with a fictitious name Kweku Amafegha.

He noted that half of $1.1 billion paid to Malabu for the procurement was consummated through bribes to Nigeria politicians and intermediaries who helped to secure the controversial deal.

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Odugbemi explained that some officials of the Federal Government acted as conduit for the fund after Shell and Eni raised fears over transferring the money directly to Malabu due to Etete’s earlier conviction in France.

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