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JUST IN: Blind protesters storm Govt House, demand to see Okorocha

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JUST IN: Blind protesters storm Govt House, demand to see Okorocha

More than 200 blind persons under the aegis of the Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB), Imo State chapter Monday blocked the entry gates of the Imo State Government House, Owerri, in protest.

The protesters who tried to force themselves into the premises of the government house but were resisted by the security men on duty, said
they wanted to see Governor Rochas Okorocha, over alleged neglect and abandonment. Over the non-payment of their ‘welfare packages, annual subventions and unfulfilled promises by the governor’.

The Association’s chairman, Mr. Kalu Christopher, who spoke to newsmen said that the protest was to demand the fulfilment of the promises
made to the association by the governor on the 4th of December 2013.

“We brought a litany of our problems for solution and the governor promised to solve some of them and some of the promises he made
included the establishment of the Special School for the Blind in the state.

“In spite of the fact that Imo State has been boasting of being the educationally most advanced state, no blind person in Imo State has
access to education except those who can afford to travel all the way to Ebonyi and Enugu States in search of primary and secondary
education because there is none in Imo State

“We met the governor in 2013 and he promised that the school for the blind would take off in September 2014. But in November that year when we led a protest to him about the non-availability of the school, do you know what the governor told us? He said to us, ‘had it been you came earlier, you would have seen a truck carrying gravel to the new school site’.

“But since that 2014 till today, we have not seen the truck nor the gravel and not even the school site has been shown to us. It is only
in Imo State that a leader in that high position can openly lie without minding the effect”, Kalu lamented.

He continued “Again, our colleagues in secondary and tertiary schools have allowances they receive annually which is called bursary
allowance. But since this government came on board, Governor Okorocha paid only two years and has since stopped that payment claiming that he is giving Imo State free education.

“On the annual subvention that is paid to the association, this government stopped it in the past seven years, that has amounted to over N7m. If actually he considers us as part of Imo State, our needs should be taken care of.”

The chairman added that part of what led to their demonstration was that the governor promised to employ some of them who are qualified in the civil service. “But, this government employed over 3000 workers into the state civil service last year but none of our members was
deemed fit to be employed despite the heights we have gone to gain qualifications”.

He said the United Nations convention upgraded employment that should be given to the blind from two to 10 percent, but lamented that the Imo State government doesn’t care about them.

The group also alleged that the government had ‘grossly marginalised’ members of the association in employment, empowerment opportunities and official programmes.

They stated however that despite the ill-treatment meted to them, they would not want to toe the line of violence, but keep finding ways to
dialogue with government towards enhancing their welfare as bonafide citizens.

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