by Isi Esene
Olubiyi Odunaro, a 53-year-old former employee of Hallmark Bank has gone on hunger-strike demanding the payment of his terminal benefits vowing to continue his protest until his demands are met.
Mr. Odunaro has also pitched a tent in a garden at Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Ikeja, to protest the perceived injustice.
Hallmark Bank was one of the banks which did not meet the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) recapilatization policy in 2005 resulting in its folding up.
Odunaro, who began his hunger-strike 9 days ago, explained that he is embarking on this 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 recapitalization policy.
The former bank manager 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.”
He said he had on October 24 written to the President, Goodluck Jonathan on the non-payment of entitlements giving an October 31 ultimatum to go on hunger-strike if the agencies concerned refuse to pay.
Asked about the toll such decision will take on his health, 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.”
Odunaro continued saying, “It wasn’t our wish or our making to be out of jobs. The CBN in its own wisdom introduced the recapitalization policy and afterwards withdrew the operating licence of Hallmark Bank where I worked and 13 other banks for failing to meet up with the recapitalization 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 reportedly said he has done everything he possibly can to bring their plight to the notice of relevant agencies but his efforts have so far been ignored.
“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.”
Odunaro, who is now stationed at Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, opposite Opebi U-Turn road junction was seen on Tuesday reading the book ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ authored by Nelson Mandela.