Persons living with disability in Bayelsa State, under the aegis of the Joint National Association of People Living with Disabilities, took to the streets on Monday to press home their demand for inclusion in the recent employment of 1,000 graduates into the civil service.
More than 200 physically challenged persons took part in the protest, which caused traffic gridlock in the Ovom axis of Yenagoa, the state capital, compelling motorists to take other routes.
The aggrieved persons, led by Comrade Eric Ikilowei, the group’s state acting Chairman, blocked the entrance to the Government House, displaying placards with various inscriptions, and requested to speak with the Governor.
Addressing the press, Ikilowei stated: “We are only demanding the employment of seven of our members who are graduates and this is not even up to the seven per cent or more that should have been our constitutional quota and right.
“We have made our request known to the government on several fora, but they still keep blank ears to our plight.
“We have as much right as our counterparts, who are able indigenes. So, we should not be short-changed! We had embarked on several protests earlier to no avail.
“We are giving the government a week’s ultimatum to grant us employment or we shall come back by Monday for a bigger protest to shut down this government house and the whole state until our demands are granted.”
The protesters were addressed by some government officials, including the aide-de-camp to the governor, chief whip of BYHA, Hon. Tonye Emmanuel Isenah, the Commissioner for Empowerment and Social Welfare, Honourable Faith Opene, who assured the protesters that their requests for employment have already been looked into.
To confirm her statement of assurance, the disabled persons put a phone call through to Dr. Peter Singabele, the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission, who told them that letters of employment for seven of the disabled persons are already being worked out and settled.
He stated that they shall get the letters on Friday this week and that there was no need for the protest.