Chinedu Ugwu, one of the thirty four (34) contract staff sacked by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to pave way for the employment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter Hadiza and children of other Nigerian elites, has died of high blood pressure, SIGNAL can report.
Ugwu, 37, just like other contract staff had given over six years of work at the PPPRA with the promise that he would be permanently employed. But his hope of employment was dashed when the PPPRA sacked him and 33 others in 2017 only to secretly recruit Hadiza Buhari among others for limited job slots in November 2019 without any public advertisement or consideration of the promise of employment initially made to the contract staff.
Frustrated and jobless, Ugwu who was based in Lagos with his wife and three kids, could no longer afford to pay his rent and was forced to relocate to his village where he died on Sunday. Before his death, he had gone into a bout of depression.
“See what has now happened to my colleague? We had opportunity to make ourselves rich when we were working as contract staff at PPPRA, but we refused and served the country with integrity. See how they now paid us? We did not engage in any fraud. They can ask EFCC to check, we did our job well. We didn’t do anything fraudulent. Our working conditions on the vessels were very tough. We even worked on Sundays. Some of us fell ill without any health allowances to take care of ourselves. One of us Folasade developed cancer of the blood and the family had to raise money to send her abroad for treatment. Till this moment, she has not been able to return to the country”, one of the contract staff who did not want to be named told SIGNAL on Tuesday.
SIGNAL exclusively broke the news of the secret employment at the PPPRA two weeks ago through a whistleblower who revealed the details of the injustice. The Nigerian Presidency had initially denied that none of the President’s children had secured any employment at the agency. SaharaReporters subsequently did a follow up report to the story with more details on their findings. The Nigerian Presidency has now gone quiet in the face of new revelations on the development.
The secret recruitment which secured a job for President Buhari’s daughter was carried out by the current Executive Secretary of the agency, Abdulkadir Umar Saidu an indigene of Buhari’s Katsina home state. Saidu is said to run the agency like his personal business knowing he has the full backing of the President.
“The ES has told us we cannot do anything. He said if we like, we can go anywhere and nothing will happen”, one of the affected former PPPRA contract staff told SIGNAL. Indeed, nothing has happened despite a series of petitions written by the former staff to the National Assembly to look into their case.
Federal House and Senate committee members with oversight for the Petroleum sector are said to have abandoned the case after they were offered employment slots at the “juicy” petroleum agency. The employment slots were reportedly also allocated to powerful individuals in the executive and judiciary arms of government in the country.
Three out of the 34 contract staff were eventually employed raising concerns among the remaining 31 that this is a clear case of nepotism and favouritism. “One of the three they employed is the daughter of a director at DSS and another is the son of a former top manager at NNPC”, an informed source told this newspaper.
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