Vehicular and commercial activities were paralysed, on Wednesday, around the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium as protesters took to the streets in reaction against the sack of 513 workers of the Edo State Sports Council.
The sack of the workers by Governor Godwin Obaseki was disclosed in a memo dated March 4.
Those affected were drawn from junior, senior and management categories of workers.
The government stated that the exercise was part of its transition plan from the defunct Edo State Sports Council to the Edo State Sports Commission.
The memo read that while the affected staff would be immediately paid their one month in lieu of notice, their pension payment would commence in April 2022.
Titled, ‘Transition plan for staff of Edo State Sports Council to Edo State Sports Commission,’ the memo read in part, “Following the assessment for the establishment of the Edo State Sports Commission, we have completed the assessment of staff of the defunct Sports Council, who possess the requisite skills sets to transit to the new Sports Commission.
“In the forgoing, we have carefully reviewed the organisation structure for the new Sports Commission and assessed the existing staff of the defunct Council against the required competences required to operate in the Commission.”
The affected workers included athletes, coaches and administrative staff.
Some of the protesters said that they were shocked to receive a circular of their disengagement from the Edo Civil Service, also directing them to reapply as casual staff.
One of the protesters, and former Paralympian, Patience Igbiti, said, “I have been here for over 20 years as a permanent staff and all of a sudden you disengage me.
“I have rejected jobs abroad to train people for my state. Where do you now want me to start from?
Another affected staff, Friday Aibangbe, a visually-impaired athlete, stated, “I believe that the governor did not consider us at all. We worked for him and voted for him and fought for him, now he has disappointed us.
“You sacked the cripple, you sacked the able-bodied, you sacked the blind. Look at somebody like me; where does the governor want me to go to?
“Do I go and start begging money? They should have human face. It is very sad, it is very painful.”
The Commission’s Chairman, Yusuf Ali, promised to take their complaint to the government, saying, “I wouldn’t have wanted this to be how we met for the first time. I am a former athlete myself and you know me very well.
“I have always fought for the welfare of athletes; that is why I am here to see how we can solve this. I need suggestions from you so I can take something back to government.”