Visually-impaired graduates demand jobs, block Imo govt house

Scores of visually-impaired graduates and students on Monday protested against government’s failure to pay bursary and provide jobs, blocking the main gate to the Imo State Government House in Owerri to air their grievances.

The protesters, who alleged marginalisation by the Governor Rochas Okorocha-led administration, said the government was treating them “like strangers in our own state.”

Displaying placards with various inscriptions which depicted their grievances, the blind protesters demanded an end to what they tagged deliberate abandonment and marginalisation by the government.

The demonstrators, who assembled under the aegis of the Nigerian Association of the Blind, Imo State chapter, called on Okorocha to be responsive to their demands.

They vowed not to leave the gate to the government house until the governor addressed them.

Apart from the demand for special job opportunities for blind graduates in the state, the protesters equally demanded the immediate release of accumulated seven-year subvention arrears and bursary allowances for blind students in higher institutions.

The protest caused gridlock on the road to the government house, as security men manning the gate battled in vain to disperse the demonstrators.

The Chairman of the association, Christopher Kalu, said the state government had failed to build a special school for the blind which was promised the association seven years ago.

Kalu said “We visited the governor in December last year to remind him of his promise, but we found out that the commissioners are not helping matters because several efforts to get the governor to implement his promise through his commissioners are not yielding fruits.

“In January this year, we sent a warning note that if we come to the government house as a group on protest, we will not leave until our demands are met.

“Now we are here. We will not leave until our demands are met. We are demanding a sum of less than N4.5m. We are demanding that our graduates should be given job opportunities in our own state. We are not demanding too much.”

The Citizen

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