Olubiyi Odunaro, a 53-year-old former employee of Hallmark Bank Plc., has embarked on hunger strike to protest against non-payment of his terminal benefit.
Besides, the ex-banker has turned a garden on Mobolaji Bank-Anthony Way into his new home, vowing to remain there until he is paid his benefits.
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.
Odunaro, a senior manager of the defunct bank, said he began the hunger strike on November 12.
When correspondent visited him on Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, opposite Opebi U Turn Road junction, on Tuesday, he was seen reading a novel ‘Long walk to freedom’ by Nelson Mandela.
He explained that he embarked 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.
Odunaro 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 said, “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.”
Asked if his health has not been deteriorating, Odunaro said, “Though I take water at 8pm everyday, It’s gradually taking a toll on me as I have 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.
He said, “It wasn’t our wish or our making to be out of jobs. The CBN in its own wisdom introduced the recapitalisation policy and afterwards withdrew the operating licence of Hallmark Bank where I worked and 13 other banks for failing to meet up with the recapitalisation policy deadline.
“But, seven years on, the guidelines on consolidation which make provision for our compensation in view of the development had not been followed.”
He said despite writing several letters of appeal as a group to the FG and other relevant agencies concerning the issue, they had been ignored.
He said, “On a personal note, I even took it upon myself to get President Goodluck Jonathan informed by posting series of comments about this issue on his Facebook page.
“Unfortunately, nothing has been done and many of us live a deplorable way of life with the majority 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.”