Lepers from Eku settlement in Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State yesterday trooped out of their colony to protest alleged insensitivity of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration to their plight.
The protesters converged on the Ministry of Women Affairs, Social and Community Development, headed by Rev. Omotshola Williams. For fear of being infected, workers at the ministry abandoned their duty posts.
The lepers, comprising men and women, and their children, wondered why Okowa failed to toe the path of his predecessors in addressing their predicament. The protesters, led by the Chairman of the People Affected by Leprosy (PAL), Lucky Egbo, hailed former Governors James Ibori and Emmanuel Uduaghan for taking good care of them while in power.
Egbo said Ibori removed them from the highway in 1999, placed them on a monthly stipend and approved free meals for them. According to him, Udaughan, who inherited the arrangement, was unable to improve on their condition but continued with what he met on ground.
He said: “Ibori resettled us and placed each of us on N8,000 monthly stipend. He also approved three square meals for us daily. Former Governor Uduaghan continued with the three square meals but reduced the monthly stipend to N6,000. “The current administration of Governor Okowa is the worst hit.
He did not only cut the monthly stipend to N3,900, he reduced our daily meal to two times a day. Now the governor is owing us three months arrears plus the four months outstanding under Uduaghan.”
Egbo said the lepers would remain in Asaba until the governor listened to them, paid the seven months’ arrears and reverted to the three meals daily. “Thank God we came with our sleeping mats. We will remain here until they answer us. We were where we were when they (government of the state) came and promised to help us.”