An employee of the Bayelsa State Water Board, Peter Ogiero, has allegedly committed suicide following the non-payment of his salaries for 13 months by the state government.
It was gathered that the middle-aged engineer reportedly took his life on Tuesday after he waited endlessly for the period without any action by the Governor Seriake Dickson-led administration to save workers at the board from their financial predicament.
Sources said that the deceased, who is a father of four, and whose only means of livelihood was his monthly take home pay, was allegedly overwhelmed by frustration over the unfortunate development.
Ogiero was said to have first developed hypertension and later stroke about one year ago when he found it extremely difficult to care for himself let alone his wife and four children.
In the midst of his sorry state, his second wife, it was learnt, had to abandon him for their village alongside three of their children.
The only child, a teenager, that stayed with him in his state of impoverishment and anguish, was his first son, Wilson, who barely depended on charity for survival.
Wilson’s mother was said to have died before Ogiero married his second wife, who allegedly abandoned their home at Okaka area in Yenagoa metropolis because the breadwinner could no longer provide ‘bread’ for the family.
It was further learnt that Ogiero, who felt life and the government were unkind to him, decided to kill himself by taking a sniper, an insecticide.
A visit to the Ogieros’ residence on Thursday, showed that the deceased’s relations, who wore sad looks, could hardly narrate how the deceased lived in penury and committed suicide out of frustration.
However, a niece of the deceased, who gave her name only as Tina, said the deceased had been suffering from stroke for over 12 months.
“The stroke was caused by too much of thinking due to the fact that the state government has been owing him (deceased) salaries for 13 months.
“This state of affairs has caused a lot of issues in the deceased’s home. At a point, when his wife could no longer bear the situation, she had to run away from home with his three children to their village”, she said.
Tina said that Wilson and she, who were living somewhere else before, only came on the directive of their families to take care of Ogiero when it was discovered that his second wife, who was living with him, abandoned him in his trying times.
“That was how Wilson and I came to Yenagoa to take care of him. We least expected that he was going to die just like that,” she explained.
Narrating how Ogiero was living when he was alive while shedding tears, Tina said that the situation was so painful and precarious that the deceased found it very difficult to get money to buy drugs recommended by doctors.
“We hoped upon hope that the situation would ameliorate and that the government would pay him the salary they owed him but all to no avail.
“When salary did not come, we tried to manage with the little money given to us by the deceased’s sister, uncle and sometimes by his colleagues.
“But this did not suffice as it was not coming regularly. So, at a point, we found it really hard to buy him drugs and food sometime”, she added.
She said as they were hoping that things would get better someday, they had no idea that the Ogiero had his own plans – to free himself from the frustration he was enmeshed in.
She said on the fateful Tuesday, while they had gone out to look for what Ogiero would eat before taking his drugs, they returned home to see him lying on the ground, gasping for breadth.
Not long after, Ogiero, who before his travail, took families’ problems as his, gave up the ghost, Tina said amid sobs.
“That was how my uncle died. On a close observation, we discovered that he drank a sniper to take his own life out of frustration and poverty,” she stated.
Ogiero’s colleague at the water board, who identified himself simply as Raymond, also corroborated Tina’s account.
Raymond said, “My friend was strong and healthy before the state government stopped paying us salaries.
“The situation led to his frustration and this in turn led to an increase in his blood pressure which later resulted in stroke that worsened his frustration.
“As of now, we are being owed 13-month salaries. The head of our agency has made several efforts in writing and appeals to the state government to pay our salaries and allowances but to no avail”, he said.
According to him, it was not just only him and the late Ogiero that were owed, it also affected over 150 workers in the corporation.
He said some of them had worked in the board for more than 15 years, wondering why the government was so indifferent to their plight.
He said worse still, many of the workers at the board had worked for close to 15 years as casual workers, without the regularisation of their designations.
He lamented that the government had been treating workers of the board with disdain and scorn, wondering what they had done to deserve being treated as sub-humans.
The situation under which we operate is simply appalling. We are human beings with responsibilities but the government treats us as if we are sub-human beings.
“This is supposed to be a restoration government but we are treated with disdain and scorn. Our salaries are not paid as and when due. As I speak with you, the government is owing us 13 months salaries. Another month has ended, making it 14.
“At our various homes, we are no more worthy to be called fathers because we cannot meet up with our obligations as fathers. We have been turned into vegetables.
“This is not what we bargained for when we took up appointments with the corporation. We are no more able to provide food for our families let alone pay our children’s school fees.
“We are appealing to the government to come to our rescue before more of our colleagues go the way of Ogiero. We are also calling on thegovernment to rally round the family of our deceased colleague so that the children can have some respite”, he said.