…Urge EFCC to investigate past handlers
By Emem Idio
OTOUGIRI—THE Community town hall of Otuogiri community in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa state, last Thursday, was filled to capacity with long wearing faces of women and youths who were engaged under the community services scheme of the Sure-P programme of former President Goodluck Jonathan led administration.
They had come to protest the non payment of their benefits and entitlements for the year 2015.
We are suffering
Armed with placards with various inscriptions: Such as “We demand payment of our 2015 stipends,” “EFCC, ICPC please come and help us, we have been short changed”, “We have been duped,” “We are dying and suffering,” “A work man deserves his wages,” among others, the beneficiaries, rained curses on handlers of the programme.
Mr. Douglas Wilson, the SURE-P programme grassroots’ coordinator for Ogbia Local Government Area, who spoke on behalf of all the local government coordinators, said they had come to protest their unpaid allowance for 2015, lamenting that they have waited in vain for the payment without any positive results.
While calling on the handlers of the programme in the state to pay them their entitlement, Wilson also called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFFC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, in the spirit of the present administration’s anti-corruption drive to investigate how the funds were managed and bring to justice whoever is found culpable.
His words: “We are beneficiaries of the Community Service Programme of the SURE-P programme of the last administration and we are protesting the non payment of our stipends for 2015. We are aware that the allowance or stipends for 2015 was paid in full, we are therefore surprised that we at the grassroots level have not been paid while others had been paid. We are over 3000 and we were supposed to be paid N10,000 and N12,000 monthly for regulars and the supervisors respectively.
Want government intervention
“We have written to the Bayelsa State government and other relevant government agencies to intervene in the matter. We want the world to know that the community people who were engaged in SURE-P programme are suffering and dying. We are rural community people and law abiding citizens.
“We are not happy. We are not blaming anybody but we are calling on EFCC to come in and investigate this matter and bring to book whoever that is involved in this fraud.”
Mrs. Evelyn Itelemo, a beneficiary who spoke on behalf of the women lamented: “We started with Sure P in 2012 but we were dropped in 2015 without any payment or any benefits whatsoever.
“We are surprised how government can treat us like this. We are suffering. As it is now we don’t have any source of livelihood. We can no longer train our children in school; we are angry and need our money.
“We are begging whoever was in charge of the programme to come and pay us our money or the wrath of God will visit their households.”