Rivers government yet to fulfill N40million promise to my family

Mercy Blankson, widow of the late Joe Blankson, who drowned in 2018 after saving 13 passengers in a boat mishap along the Abonema/Bakana waterway in Rivers State, has revealed that promises made by both federal and state governments’ are yet to be fulfilled.

In an interview with the Punch, the mother of two also narrated how in-laws disturbed her thinking that Rivers state government gifted her N50 million.

Read excerpts from the interview below:

It’s been three years since your husband drowned, saving passengers in a boat accident. How has life been for you and your children?

Well, life has been difficult. Joe was the breadwinner of the family and he left unexpectedly; unplanned and without leaving anything (money) behind. So, it has really not been easy in terms of my kid’s education, in terms of accommodation, well-being and other things. We have just been managing to get by just by the grace of God. Of late, someone is helping to pay the children’s school fees. He has paid for three terms. But before then, it was really hell trying to take care of school fees and other things.

When this incident occurred, the Rivers State Government promised to offer you an employment, as well as an endowment fund for your children. Has the promise been fulfilled?

No, not yet. Even when he (the Rivers State Governor) made those promises, I actually tried to follow up to see if they could offer me an employment like he said and scholarship for my children, but nothing has happened till now. I understand that he is busy, but I just pray that God will still touch him to fulfil his promises in terms of the scholarship and the job.

When you made the effort to see the governor, what were you told?

I wrote different letters to him through the Secretary to the State Government, through the Deputy Governor, through Her Excellency. I also wrote to the then Degema Local Government Area Chairman that took me there. I even tried to meet them one by one. It was still the same old story of “We will see what we will do about that.” Till date, nothing has been done.

You were based in Port Harcourt but recently you relocated to Abuja. Is there any reason for that?

I left Port Harcourt because…I am trying not to use the phrase being threatened. But you know how it is in our society today when a woman loses her husband. You know harmful widowhood practices the woman usually faces. At one point my life wasn’t safe.

When my husband died during the election period, there were so many promises and stuff. People were trying to use it to score political points. So, my in-laws assumed or concluded that Governor Nyesom Wike gave me N50m and that I ran out of Port Harcourt. In fact, they were threatening me. So, I just had to be alive for my children, and my own mental health was being affected. So, I had to leave.

I was not given any N50m. The governor promised to support my children’s education with N40m and also give me a job.

Recently, your late husband was given a posthumous award by the President, which you received on his behalf. How did that make you feel?

Well, I am not supposed to be happy though, but based on the fact that the award came when it came, I am glad that he was being recognised for his selfless act; I am happy about that. I even wished that the whole thing would bring him back, which is not possible. I am glad that he was recognised by the President after many years. So, I’m happy and grateful for the award.

Did the award come with money?

Well, nothing has come for now. But when I met Alhaji Lai Mohammed (Minister of Information and Culture), he said they would get back to me. But they didn’t give me anything. Nothing was attached; it was just a normal award, a plaque.

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