Poverty, hardship and a burning desire to get what was rightfully his made 75-year-old Sunday Oboite, like many others, to defy the weather and their failing health in February 2016, and storm Oredo Local Government in Benin City to, for the umpteenth time, partake in a screening process for the payment of 10 months’ pension arrears.
However, cruel fate struck in its characteristically unprecedented manner, and, in the process of getting the cash that was meant to cushion his decline into old age, he went and waited on the queue for screening. He never returned home as he slumped and died on that same queue.
His death exposed the shoddy arrangement and treatment of pensioners by the government, and drew criticisms from all sectors. For several months, the spotlight was on Oredo Local Government and its staff; as they were compelled to, at least, treat the old pensioners with the dignity they deserved as human beings.
The family of Late Sunday Oboite must have thought the backlash that followed the death of their father would result in some respite for them, having had to deal with poverty and the emotional trauma of losing their breadwinner. How wrong they were! 484 days after, they still cannot afford the fees of the rites to confine their father’s corpse to the earth, and, as stipulated by tradition, bid him goodbye.
“My family wants me to go and get the money for the burial alone, and so far, I have only managed to get 20 thousand naira,” Osasu Sunday Oboite, the only son of the deceased lamented in an interview with Bloomshire. “I will be needing about N500, 000 more, as I still need to pay for the mortuary where my father has been lying since,” he concluded.
The young man, who has been forced to grow up and assume manly responsibilities by nature and its forces, works as a floor tiler, further told Bloomshire that it is his desire to bury his father in Ehor part of Uhunmwode Local Government, where he hails from.
The Late Sunday Oboite did not enjoy much of this life. He spent his old age clamouring for a payment that he never received. Yet again, he is being denied the promised rest of the afterlife because his family cannot afford to end his relationship with this world and unite him with his ancestors in the heavens.