By Bukola Olasanmi
26- years- old Joseph Odey, has threatened to commit suicide over the alleged refusal of the Cross River State Government to pay his father’s gratuity.
Odey, who protested by himself at the Governor’s office in Calabar, said suffering of his family was driving him into depression.
He told reporters that his late father, Mr. Anthony Odey, who served the state for 32 years, died three years to his retirement as the Principal of Government Secondary School, Ebo in Yala.
According to him: “I am at the Governor’s office today to bring attention to the non-payment of my late father’s benefits and gratuity after he had put in 32 years of faithful service to the state and died as a school principal a few months before he was due for retirement.
“The weight, pain and suffering of my family are getting out of hand and I am becoming more depressed seeing my family suffer on a daily basis.
“I am the first son and first child, I can’t bear to watch my siblings and poor mother suffer anguish like this.
“From the blue paper, the money is N13 million.
“Following the sad death of my father, 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 and that there is 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.
“My family has 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 WAEC and JAMB exams 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 the authorization for us to be paid.
“I will be here with my placard every day, come rain or shine until the approval is given or else I will take the easy way out, cause I can stand this pain and shame for too long.”
Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Ayade, Mr. Christian Ita, said they were paying in batches, explaining the present administration inherited a backlog of gratuity from 2013.
“We have cleared 2013 and we are paying in batches. We inherited gratuity and we are clearing them as soon as possible.
“It’s a function of money, everyone affected will be paid. We are currently paying 2014, we will get to everyone because we are offsetting the backlog in batches,” he said.