Judex Okoro, Calabar
A twenty-six-year-old man, Joseph Odey, has threatened to commit suicide if the Cross River State government refuses to pay his father’s N12m gratuity.
Joseph, who hails from Yala Local Government Area of the state, expressed sadness that four years after his father died and having served 32 years in state civil service, his gratuity had not been paid.
He further expressed disappointment at the way and manner the case was being handled even when he had processed all the papers that could facilitate the payment and threatened to take his life if there was further delay in payment.
He said: “I was at the governor’s office today to protest against the non-payment of my late father’s benefits and gratuity after he had put in 32 years of faithful service to the state. My father, Anthony Odey, died as a school principal a few months before he was due for retirement.
“Following his sad death, I commenced processing the paperwork for payment of his benefits, 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 about the matter but he told me that no payment was being considered. Besides, he said there was a backlog of pending payments stretching back to 2014, all awaiting the governor’s approval.
“Following this disclosure, I attempted several times to bring the governor’s attention to the issue but all messages to that effect were unanswered.
“I can tell you that my family has been facing hard times since the death of our father who was the breadwinner as my two immediate younger sisters at different levels of studies at the university are on the verge of dropping out while the third who passed WAEC and JAMB conducted exams this year faces an uncertain future due to our financial incapacitation,” he stated in an emotion laden tone.
Appealing to Governor Ben Ayade to please have pity and authorise the payment of what their father had laboured for so as to also have the chance to lead a decent life, he said failure to do so meant he would continue to “carry the placard every day, come rain or shine, until the approval is given.”
Reacting, the Senior Special Assistant and Press Secretary, Mr Christain Ita, said the government was doing everything possible to clear outstanding benefits to retirees and those who have died.
Ita said already government had commenced payment of 2014 gratuity and hoped that Odey’s family’s case would be taken into consideration even as the state was in financial strait.