Tony Osauzo, Benin
Protesting staff of the College of Education, Ekiadolor, Edo State, who continued their protest for the second day yesterday, went spiritual as they organised a marathon prayer session to force the state government to clear the 11 months salary arrears, pensions and gratuities.
Attired in black, the workers and retired staff, arrived Government House in Benin, where they blocked the entrance gate in defiance of an early rain.
They also engaged in praise and worship songs after gathering in a circular form close to the Government House gate.
Workers and top government officials were forced to access their offices through the second exit gate.
Armed anti-riot policemen were seen diverting regular visitors towards another gate leading to the Government House, following the barricade caused by the protesters.
Some of the aggrieved staff, in an interview, said aside the non-payment of the 11 months salary arrears and pension owed them by the Governor Godwin Obaseki administration, their plights have been made worse with the death of some members due to failing health, and worsening and worrisome economic hardship that made it impossible for them to meet the needs of their families and relations.
Chairman of the College of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), Fred Omonuwa, said the protest would continue until Governor Obaseki answers them with the payment of their salaries, pension and gratuities.
He said over N1 billion is required by the state government to offset the accumulated salary arrears, which include about N99 million per month for payment of salary of workers of the institution.