By Eseoghene Emuke
Nigeria’s economy may be taking a downturn with the continuous shutdown of operations of the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company (WRPC), operator of the Warri Refinery in Delta State.
More than 500 support staff since Wednesday locked the entrance of the company demanding their conversion to staff.
However, the protest took a new turn Friday, with the placement of a coffin at the entrance of the oil refinery.
The protesters remain adamant that the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, come to resolve the issue.
According to the workers, this will be the third time they are protesting, the last being in May where the management assured that the conversion will be finalized by mid-June.
The company seemed to have breached the agreement to facilitate their conversion to staff, giving the protest of the past three days.
Most of the protesting workers have reportedly worked for 8 to 28 years support staff.
Meanwhile, a closed-door meeting between representatives of the WRPC and the Community Relations Committee (CRC), of the host communities has ended in a deadlock.
The meeting took place at the NNPC Senior Staff Club, Warri with the Executive Director of Services (EDS), Dr. Francis Ololo Sokare.
The WRPC management had appealed for the suspension of the protest and another two weeks to enable them facilitate a meeting with NNPC officials, the Chief Operating Officer of Refineries in Nigeria and the CRC, in Abuja.
However, the CRC insisted that officials in Abuja should come and resolve the issue.
The chairman of CRC Ijala-Ikeren, Adolphus Tosanwumi disclosed thus: “We told them that they should bring in the Abuja management of NNPC tomorrow, if the protest must stop.”