Hundreds of physically challenged persons protested on Monday over non-inclusion in the employment of primary school teachers, the SURE-P programme, and other entitlements as they accused the Ughelli North Council Chairman, Mr Godwin Adode, of allegedly denying them employment opportunities.
The protesters, who came under the auspices of the National Association of Persons with Disability, Ughelli Chapter, barricaded the main gate of the Ughelli North Local Government Council Secretariat.
In a chat with newsmen, the chairman of the association, John Omokiniovo, said: “We are here to agitate for our rights in Ughelli North Local Government Area. We in JONAPWD have clusters such as the visually impaired, physically challenged, deaf, albino, and ex-lepers.
“We are here to make our demands known to the chairman of the local government, Chief Godwin Adode, for not keying into the Federal and State government policies of the 5% employment opportunity, especially with the ongoing employment in primary school teaching.”
He said the 5% opportunity for persons with disabilities has been enshrined since the time of Chief James Ibori as governor and was observed by the immediate past administration.
He explained that with the policy, people with disabilities are guaranteed to benefit from all employment opportunities in the local government.
“That we are disabled does not mean we are sick in the head. Here with me are Master’s degree holders, pharmacologists, OND, HND, BSc, BEd, and NCE holders, so it is wrong to deny us the little 5% given to us,” he stated.
Omokiniovo further alleged: “I have made several efforts to meet with the chairman, but anytime I visited his office, the chairman would be in the office, but his people would tell me he is not on seat. They won’t allow me access to see him, but the good thing is that I have dropped off all copies of our memorandum for him to see. All we want is for him to give us what is due to us, and if the federal and state governments have acknowledged this, I see no reason why the local government should not listen to us.”
When contacted on the phone, Ughelli North Local Government Council Chairman Godwin Adode denied all the accusations levelled against him.
He claimed that he had reserved two slots for persons with disabilities in the employment of primary school teachers.
Adode also said the accusation of SURE-P is also not true as the funds were used for projects in the local government, but he neither specified nor named the projects to which the funds were channelled.