A contract staff with the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulation Agency, Mr Chinedu Ugwu, who was indiscriminately dismissed alongside 27 others by management of the organisation, has died.
Ugwu died as a result of depression and high blood pressure after losing his only source of livelihood and not being able to cater for his wife and four children anymore.
According to findings by SaharaReporters, he and the 27 other contract staff, who had served the PPPRA for over seven years, were unjustly dismissed on the orders of Executive Secretary of the agency, Mr Abdulkadir Saidu, a nephew to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Saidu used their slots to bring in children and family members of top government functionaries including Hadiza, one of the daughters of President Buhari, in order to secure his position.
Before the appointment of Saidu as Executive Secretary of PPPRA, the former occupant of that office, Mrs Sotonye Iyoyo, had secured an approval to regularise the employment of 134 contract staff and also employ more qualified Nigerians into the agency.
However, as is the norm in most federal ministries and agencies in Nigeria, management and board of PPPRA decided to share the slots amongst themselves and cronies rather than throwing it open to the general public.
The employment slots were allocated to powerful individuals in the executive, legislature, and judiciary arms of government in the country.
Narrating how Ugwu died of frustration after being kicked out of PPPRA with the others, one of his colleague told SaharaReporters that the management of the agency refused to reinstate or compensate them for their many years of service despite several appeals made to them.
According to him, those of them still alive are currently battling different ailments and challenges because they had no other means of livelihood to support themselves and their families.
He said, “Ugwu’s death is a very big loss to us and especially his family because he was a nice guy who gave support to everyone around him.
“He died on March 2 after falling into depression and developing high blood pressure.
“The PPPRA management dismissed them verbally without any sack letter and all efforts they made to be reinstated or compensated never worked out.
“This was despite earlier assurances by leadership of the agency that they will be reabsorbed into the system.
“As a result of this, he grew frustrated especially after not being able to take care of his wife and four children anymore.”
SaharaReporters gathered that Ugwu, who was stationed at the Capital Oil and Gas Depot, Lagos, and also oversaw other depots in addition, worked under unfavourable conditions during his lifetime. He was exposed to a lot of hazards while on duty including inhaling petroleum products.
He was also said to have worked under a senior colleague and area supervisor, Mr Amir Musa, who subjected him to all sorts of inhuman treatments. Musa was described as an indolent, incompetent, serial absentee, who flouted the civil service rules several times but was always shielded by the management and board of PPPRA.
But despite these atrocious acts against him, Ugwu carried out his daily tasks at work with diligence and dedication.
Rather than appreciate his years of labour and dedication, all the management of PPPRA could do was to use his slot and those of others to bring in children of powerful Nigerians into the agency.
His colleague said that the deceased had to relocate to his hometown in Enugu State after he could no longer afford the house rent in Lagos.
Everything around Ugwu crumbled all of a sudden.
“Ugwu called me up one day and was lamenting his inability to cater for his wife and four kids, worst of all, his inability to purchase drugs needed for his ailment.
“Despite doing some menial jobs, he was never able to meet up with his obligations again and this bothered him.
“He was forced to relocate to his village in Enugu State after being evicted from his rented apartment by landlord of the house in FESTAC, Lagos, due to his inability to pay rent following the loss of his job.”
SaharaReporters gathered that the young man had since been buried while his wife and four children now face a bleak future.
Other colleagues of the deceased told our correspondent that their lives was yet to find any sort of balance since they were unjustly dismissed from PPPRA.
A senior staff of the agency confided in SaharaReporters that anyone of them, who tried to raise the issue of the sacked contract staff, were threatened by management of the agency.
According to the official, the various summons served on the agency due to the ill treatment meted to the sacked contract staff had hit the management hard.
He said it was wrong to treat persons, who had given their best years to the agency in such a cruel manner.
He said, “They worked every day of the week without leave or decent pay and the agency’s unappreciative stance didn’t affect their commitment to helping it achieve its targets while they worked.”
The official blamed his colleagues for being too fearful of the Executive Secretary of the agency, who always threatened everyone with sack and early retirement because he was related to President Buhari.
He further disclosed that Saidu, his Chief of Staff, Yusuf Muazu, and the power-drunk General Manager Admin, Mr Victor Shidok, who initiated the ‘contract staff must go movement’, were running a corrupt scheme in the PPPRA.