With a background in Engineering, I joined NAFCON in April of 1996 after a six month intensive training at the Company Training School in Onne. I had a 9-year post-graduation working experience behind me at this time. Two of those years had been spent at two different engineering firms, and seven as a senior lecturer and head of engineering department at an agricultural college. I left my lectureship job to join Nafcon because it presented a better future for me.
By the time I came to NAFCON its Nigerian managers had been running it for more than 4 years. Signs of physical decay had already become visible, especially in the NPK Plant where I was eventually deployed. The company’s financial predicament had perhaps not become very obvious, even though complaints were going round the rumour mill.
The plant ran a 4-shift 8-hour system - Shift A, Shift B, Shift C and Shift D in its Production Department, for 24-hour daily production. A shift comprised different categories of staff - the Plant Superintendent, Shift Supervisor, Boardman, Operators and Casuals, all under the Plant Manager. The shifts rotated from Morning - Afternoon - Night - Off and back to Morning, in turn.
The NPK Plant had several units, from Raw Materials through to the Pre-Neutralizer, the Granulator, the Dryer, the Chiller, the Mixer, on to products Bagging. The various inputs and final products are controlled from the NPK Control Room, from the Instruments control panel. Raw Materials also had sections of solids raw materials and liquid/acid/gas.
Shift C was my schedule, and on this fateful November day it was an afternoon schedule running from 1530 hrs to 2230 hrs. There were about 15 of us on duty this time. My section was solids Raw Materials. The schedule involved taking up such solid materials like sand, urea granules, potash, filler, etc and feeding them into the plant via the RMDC - raw materials distribution conveyor.
I ran this schedule with Iruka, and Amadi who operated the pay-loader machine. Other members of this shift included Abraham, Jude, Ufot, Anderson, etc. On the higher echelon were Nwaneri as Supervisor, Iyke Obinwa as Shift Supervisor, and Tony Okafor as Superintendent. A moment ago the Plant Manager was Engr Charles Essien, while Managing Director was Nathaniel Ejiga, who had taken over from Ombo Isokrari, but another transition was already underway.