Barivule Goni is a physically challenged staff of INTELS Nigeria Limited. A graduate of Economics from the University of Port Harcourt, Ms Goni shares her experience working with Nigeria’s oil and gas logistics giant.
Q: Can you say a few things about yourself?
A: My name is Barivule Angela Goni. I am with physical disability of the legs caused by polio few months before my first birthday. I am from Rivers State, a graduate of Economics from the University of Port Harcourt and a likeable personality.
Q: How long have you been working with INTELS?
A: I have been working with INTELS for three and a half years. Although I came for a one year Graduate Trainee with INTELS, I was immediately employed after successful completion of the programme.
Q: When did you become a beneficiary of the INTELS scholarship for physically challenged persons?
A: I was a beneficiary of the INTELS scholarship in 2005 – the very year I got admission into the university after presenting a proof of my admission to the company.
How long did the scholarship last?
The scholarship lasted for four years – the duration of my course at the university.
As a person, what difference did the scholarship make in your life?
I must confess, the scholarship made a lot of difference in many areas of my life. Most importantly, it enabled me to fulfill my dream of becoming a graduate.
I almost lost hope of going to the university due to lack of finance and family support. But the scholarship made this dream a reality. It took care of my tuition and daily needs while in school.
I was able to meet the day-to-day demands of the school. As a person with disability, it would have been difficult. For example, paying my transport fares to attend lectures.
How has your experience been working in INTELS with the physical challenge?
INTELS has created an accessible platform that enable me carry out my job/responsibilities daily without hindrances.
Although I work on the third floor of the company office building, I have no difficulties or in need of any human support to get to my office despite being physically challenged. There is a provision by the company for a special lift for the physically challenged. This is one great experience that makes the company special for me.
Moreover, this is only seen in overseas where physically challenged persons do not have to be assisted to work. INTELS has created an inclusive platform, which most government institutions and other businesses (especially multinational companies) in this country have failed to do.
There are no laws in this country compelling owners of public buildings to install special facilities to aid persons with disabilities access such places.
For many companies, investing in the lives of those living with disabilities is wasteful. They would rather give working aids (wheelchairs, crutches and or walking sticks) as the case may be.
Some of these things are often of low standards. Or they share a few foodstuffs during festive periods occasionally. But INTELS has shown that people living with disabilities are employable. The company has always done everything to give these people a sense of belonging and make them happy in the community.
In the past, physically challenged persons were cheated out of their own share of the resources of the land. They werere seen as beggars and of no use. The universities and other public buildings are always inaccessible to them.
But INTELS is changing all that through their scholarship and employment of the physically challenged.
One thing worthy of mention here is that I am not treated by my colleagues with pity just because I am physically challenged.
I am accepted and respected as everyone else. I am allowed to carry out my daily tasks according to the job description for my level.
To say INTELS has changed my life is an understatement. INTELS has greatly changed my life. It is getting better and better every day.
I wake up daily with a sense of purpose, hope and fulfilment. I know that by the grace of God all my dreams will come true.
Today, I own and drive my car. Therefore, mobility problem has been solved. I pay my house rent – shelter issues taken care of. I feed myself, take care of my personal needs and contribute my quota in any association or social group I belong.
In addition, I have been able to assist my siblings and take care of my parents in my little way. I am not a burden or liability to family. I am not only an asset, but someone with prospects.
Thus, dependency issues have been solved, and I am treated with respect in my family and among friends. What can I say, “Thank you INTELS”.
How many physically challenged persons work in INTELS at present? What is the company’s policy towards them?
At present, there are 13 physically challenged persons working with INTELS. One is still on training. The company gives them all the necessary support and respect they deserve as human beings. They are treated with dignity.
Tell us more about the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, especially as they concern helping the less privileged and physically challenged persons in society.
The Corporate Social Responsibility activities of INTELS as regards helping the less privileged and physically challenged persons in the society take care of education – from primary to tertiary education.
The activities also cover assistance in the provision of artificial limbs for amputees, corrective surgery for polio affected children.
Amongst all that, they still ensure the employment of the physically challenged. I think INTELS understands that people living with disabilities are human beings and a part of the society.
They also have something to offer and when given the opportunity can do great things. That is why it has taken its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) beyond what is known and seen in Nigeria. Indisputably, INTELS is the only company that not only has a growing number of physically challenged persons on its staff list, but also consistent with assisting them since the commencement of its scholarship in 2003.
They have done what I call “true empowerment”. That is, challenging the person to live out his or her God-given purpose by creating an opportunity and an enabling environment for them to grow.
The company has ensured the education of many persons living with disability from primary to tertiary level without financial hindrance as most of us are from poor backgrounds and can only dream of being educated, but could not afford it due to lack of financed.
I must say here that for many companies, this is a waste of time and scarce resources and would bring in no profit.
They would rather sponsor beauty pageants and all kinds of entertainment to promote their brands and company rather than carry out true CSR programmes, especially one the government of the day has no interest. One that would truly change the lives of the less privileged.
Even when they do, they are not as sustainable as INTELS which has done it for more than fourteen years, although the economic recession or meltdown period, ensures that lives are changed through its CSR.
Q: What are your hopes and aspirations as a person who has benefitted tremendously from INTELS’ benevolence?
A: My hope as someone who has benefitted tremendously from INTELS is that government should appreciate what INTELS has been able to contribute in the community and the country’s economy. Government should create laws that will encourage companies and businesses to create accessible platforms for persons living with disabilities so that many can be employed too because, they have been neglected for so long.
Q: Thank for your time. We wish you all the best.
A: Thank you for the opportunity to talk to you.