It is hard to imagine the difficulties this man must have faced which pushed him to make such a decision. A 53 year-old man has turned a garden on Mobolaji Bank-Anthony Way, Ikeja, Lagos into his new home and has embarked on hunger strike to protest the non-payment of his terminal benefit.
Olubiyi Odunaro, a former employee of Hallmark Bank Plc., began the hunger strike on November 12th 2012, and has vowed to remain on the streets until he is paid his benefits.
The former senior manager of the defunct bank told Punch yesterday that he was on the protest to expose the insensitivity of the Federal Government to pay the terminal entitlements of over 14,000 employees of the 14 banks that failed to meet up with the recapitalisation policy. Hallmark Bank was one of the banks which did not meet the Central Bank of Nigeria’s recapilatisation policy in 2005 resulting in its folding up.
He said he wrote President Goodluck Jonathan on October 24 informing him of his decision to embark on the hunger strike if the agencies concerned did not pay them their entitlements on or before October 31. He also posted a series of comments about this issue on the President’s Facebook page but got no response.
“I feel downcast with the turn of events in our country and I drew the passion to embark on a hunger strike from my disenchantment to the deliberate denial of common citizens’ rights. Before, I began this hunger strike, I sought the consent of my family members and I also underwent a comprehensive medical examination. I erected that tent with N27,000 and it is now my new home,” he said.
When asked about the condition of his health, he said he takes water at 8pm everyday but has started losing weight. “My personal doctor came to examine me on Friday and he said I am not doing bad health wise. There have been pleas from friends and other loved ones to end this strike. But, I will continue with the hunger strike until the FG pays us our lawful entitlements.”
He lamented that despite the laid down procedures contained in the Guidelines and Incentives on Consolidation in the Nigerian Banking Industry, they had not been attended to and many of the former staff of these defunct banks live a deplorable way of life unable to meet obligations to their children and other dependants.
“Thirty-eight people from just three banks that I know of have died and one of the employees of Hallmark Bank committed suicide in Aba, Abia State, as a result of his inability to eke out a living,” he said.
Currently, Odunaro lives in a tent on Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, opposite Opebi U Turn Road junction, Ikeja, Lagos. He was seen reading a novel ‘Long Walk To Freedom’ by Nelson Mandela when a Punch correspondent visited him yesterday.
On his tent reads “I Am On Hunger Strike To Press Home Request Of 14,000 Ex-staff Of Non-Consolidated Banks For Their Terminal Benefits.”
It is our sincere hope that the relevant authorities do something fast to meet this man’s request. It must have been a really hard decision for him to resort to a hunger strike and sleeping on the street. He’s been there for about nine days now.
On another note, do you think he made a good decision by embarking on a hunger strike and sleeping on the street to press home his demands?
Photo Credit: Punch