One Joseph Odey, on Wednesday, staged a one-man protest at the Governor’s Office in Calabar, Cross River State, to draw attention to the plights of members of his family as a result of the non-payment of his late father’s gratuity and death benefits.
The 26-year-old Joseph, who carried a placard with the inscription, ‘Your Excellency, please pay gratuity. My family is distressed’, told journalists that he could take his life soon if his father’s gratuity was not paid.
Joseph stated, “I am at the Governor’s Office today to draw attention to the non-payment of my late father, Anthony Odey’s benefits and gratuity after he had put in 32 years of faithful service to the state and died as the Principal of the Government Secondary School, Ebo, in Yala, a few months before he was due for retirement.
“Following his death in 2015, I commenced processing the paperwork for the payment of his benefits and completed it in 2017 and received official approval in January 2018.
“After waiting for another year and no payment was made to my family by the government, I approached the Accountant-General of the state on the matter, but he told me that no payment was being considered and that there was a backlog of pending payments stretching to 2014, all awaiting the governor’s approval.
“Following this disclosure, I attempted several times to bring the issue to the governor’s attention, but all messages to that effect were not replied. The family members have been facing hard times since the death of our father, who was the breadwinner.
“My two immediate younger sisters, at different levels of study in the university, are on the verge of dropping out, while the third, who passed the West African Senior Secondary School Examination and the Unified Matriculation Examination conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board this year faces an uncertain future due to our financial incapacitation.
“I make this public appeal to Governor Benedict Ayade to kindly let my family have the chance to lead a decent life by giving authorisation for us to be paid.”
He vowed to continue his protest until the governor acceded to his request, adding, “I will be here with my placard every day, come rain or shine until the approval is given, or else, I will commit suicide.”
Reacting to the protest, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Christian Ita, said, “We inherited gratuities from 2013. We have paid the backlog for 2013. We are now paying those of 2014.
“The money is being paid in batches. It takes a lot of processes to pay death benefits and gratuity. Since he has processed all the papers, the money will soon be paid; it is a function of availability of funds.”