Lepers besiege Asaba Govt. House over unpaid stipend

Lepers at the Eku Leprosy Settlement in Delta State stormed Asaba, state capital in protest over non-payment of their monthly stipends by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa led administration, crippling Economic and social and government activities.

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The protesters numbering over 1000 blocked Government House gate for several hours demanding increase in their monthly stipends and payment of arrears. They lamented that the current N3,900.00 they receive as monthly stipend is nothing to write home about.

The protesters at the Government House gate were abandoned not even top civil servant nor political appointee attended to them.

Armed with placards with different inscriptions including, we are hungry, we go to the same market, Okowa is starving us, Okowa increase our stipend ago others. They are threatening to go back to the highways to resume alms begging if the government continued to ignore them.

The protesters led by their Vice Chairman, Mr. Nana Daniel told our reporter that the stipends were steadily reduced from the James Ibori-led administration to the present administration of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa. Leprosy vice chairman said the Ibori’s administration was paying them N9,000.00 every month as stipend for eight good years.

Mr. Nana explained that the stipend was later reduced to N6,000.00 by the immediate past administration of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan saying that the present administration further reduced it to N3,900.00.

He, however, said that the Lepers are still being owed four months arrears during the administration of Uduaghan, noting that at the moment, even the N3,900.00 stopped coming in the past two months.

According to him, “We are saying that the stipend is not enough for us to take care of our needs, yet they are withholding it. We attend the same market like every other citizen in the state. The N3,900.00 is grossly inadequate”.

“As we speak now, they are owing us four months from the previous administration and another two months by this present administration. That is why we have come again in the streets so that the general public will know what we are suffering”.

It would be recalled that in March, this year, the ex-lepers caused a scene in Asaba when they blocked the office of the state Ministry of Women Affairs, sacking workers from their offices over alleged neglect of their welfare by government.

That protest, which coincided with the World Leprosy Day celebration, saw the ex-lepers barricading the ever busy Government House (Summit) Road by the Ministry of Women Affairs.

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