Widow of Thisday journalist cries out: Obaigbena pay my late hubby’s entitlement



Late Funso Muraina joined Thisday newspapers in 2000 as a Judicial Correspondent. Seven years later, he successfully passed his Law Exams and was awarded a Law Degree from The University of Abuja. Thereafter, he was called to the bar. ThisDay promoted him to Abuja Judicial Editor of the news media empire. He was stationed in Abuja. In July 2010, after his streaks of success, he fell ill and died suddenly. Sources then, reported that Mr. Muraina died after a brief illness. He was 49 years old.
Late Mr. Muraina left behind a young wife, four children:three boys and a daughter with physical disability including other health challenges, unpaid salaries and entitlements from ThisDay News organization. This July would have been the 20th wedding anniversary for Funso and Fatima Muraina. In this most engaging narrative, told in the first-person scattered simple prose, you will read the agonizing and disturbing story of Mrs. Fatima Muraina, the widow of the journalist, still waiting for her husband’s unpaid salaries and entitlements, almost a decade after his death; the survival and health challenges of her family in the years after her husband’s death, to these times. It is compelling and captivating; a heart pulse reduction narrative. This is her story, told for the first time:

It is long but mesmeric. Please be patient.

“ Jebose,
My husband joined the Thisday newspapers organization in 2000. Between 2000 and 2003, Thisday only paid him one time… In 2003, he was paid an accumulated salary and we used the money to purchase a Toyota Camry for the family. As years rolled on, irregular salaries became a normal way of life for our family: survival for us and our children was extremely tough. So my husband converted the family vehicle into gypsy taxicab, drove after work and at odd hours, just for us to live, as he awaited payments of past wages…

Several months after the payment of the accumulated salaries in 2003, he was transferred to the Abuja office. He worked in Abuja until his death…

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Jebose, please understand if this narrative is zigzagging. Our lives have zigzagged through the years … These are awful memories that you have triggered. It’s a painful experience to be in this situation years after my husband died….my husband told me that Nduka always told him that the staff ID card was enough for him to get his salary, whenever he boldly asked for payments of owed wages. His Entitlements and past salaries, almost ten years after his death, have not been paid…we were thrown out of our apartment and the children stopped going to school for a while because I could not afford to pay their school fees. We only received stipends, after his death, to pay some of our debts, N400,000 then, thanks to the intervention of then NUJ: to this day, nothing else has been given.

My husband died on July 5th, 2010 at 9 pm. We are Muslims and our religion dictates that we must bury the dead within a few hours of death or before sunset. The next morning his body was taken to his home town, Iseyin, in Oyo State where he was buried in concert with Muslim rites. At 2 pm, a delegation of Thisday Newspapers, led by Mr. Paul Ibe, arrived for the burial and to commiserate with the family. They drove into our compound in the company’s 36seater bus. Sadly, I learned that Mr. Ibe, was sacked ( fired) after the delegation arrived in Lagos from the burial… That was pathetic and grievous. What was his offense?. He came with other colleagues to pay last respect to a fallen colleague and he was fired by Mr. Nduka Obaigbena for that?.…

Days after burial, three members of our family went to Thisday Abuja’s office to officially inform its management of the sudden death of my husband. My understanding from the members was Thisday dismissed them, promised to call us soonest for discussions with regards to payments of his past wages and entitlements.
We waited for months. Nothing happened: no calls or invitations from ThisDay . After the 40days prayers, a delegation went to the Lagos office, again, to seek our entitlements and past wages. My family’s delegation was told that management was yet to decide, that we would be invited to the office to resolve the issue soonest. It is almost ten years after my dearest husband died, their soonest has become infinite.

I decided to write to the Nigeria Union of Journalists for assistance. Surprisingly, a senior staff called for a telephone discussion. After our discussion, he sent me an email. The mail stated that my late husband’s final entitlements had been reduced after recalculations. Therefore, management determined that his entitlements were below 2millon naira, I think 1.997 million or thereabout. The mail showed that one of his brothers and I was identified as his next of kin. The mail also rebuked me because I did not officially inform ThisDay management about my husband’s death. We were in mourning. I was anguished and lost. I was heartbroken. I just lost the love of my life, the father of my children, an amazing husband and the only man I ever knew and loved. And I was being rebuked for not writing them of my husband’s death?.ThisDay was represented at the burial by Mr. Paul Ibe: did I write any formal letter to invite them to the burial?. No. But they came; was that not ridiculous?

The email further suggested that I solicited for Obituary Adverts placements for my dead husband from friends and I should keep the Ad earnings as payment of my late husband’s entitlements!. Mr. Jebose, can you believe that? How heartless. A widow should seek Obituary advertisement of her late husband and keep the money as payment of his entitlement. How wicked and insincere was that?.I am not a staff of the company. The email was full of annoying nonsense and accusations. It concluded by stating it pardoned my ignorance of the whole situation and my inability to present the administrative letter; then offered to assist me because NUJ intervened. Ridiculous!. I felt abused and insulted.

“Meanwhile, as my husband lay helpless and weak on his sickbed, gasping, he shared with me that ThisDay was owing three months’ salaries. He was getting frail at each sunrise. He felt he might not be alive too long, so he encouraged me to seek his payments from the company. After his death, I contacted the newspaper management. Management lied to me, claimed that my husband had been paid since October 2010 through direct salary deposits, paid into his Guaranteed Trust bank Account. I contacted the branch manager of his GTB and after tracing all financial activities in his account, the manager bluntly informed me that ThisDay was lying. There were no traces of salaries paid within those periods to my late husband’s account….”
“I got tired of their lies and the foolish games of frustrations: all I wanted was to be paid his owed income. He worked for them. He also deserved his entitlements because as a senior staff he paid into his retirements and gratuity program. Thisday deducted those benefit contributions from his monthly salary. It should, therefore, pay us his due dividends, especially after his death. I have four children to care for, with a disabled child. So I began to call the office, requested to speak to management staff. I was frustrated. I kept disturbing Thisday with my regular phone calls.

After many unanswered phone calls, a source provided me another senior management to directly call. I called that new management and got the shock of my life with his inhuman response. Imagine a management staff of ThisDay newspapers told me, after my husband’s death, that I was funny to demand my late husband’s unpaid salaries and entitlements when those living staff had not received their salaries…” That was very annoying!. I replied. I told him that one day he would also be a dead man like my husband…

Life became distressed and very discomforting. We began to experience extreme hardship with our daily living and existence. I became a widow and a single mother, the sudden head of my household. Daily assisted living for my disabled daughter became my new life style. Life began to happen fast and furious, but in Allah our faith rested.

My late husband and I are blessed with three boys and a daughter. My only daughter was born June 11, 2005. She has a physical disability which we noticed about 18 months after her birth. She could not walk. I took her to the specialist hospital where she was diagnosed with brain problem and weak on her left side. Her legs and arms were weak. We were referred to several hospitals for treatments.

At (UBTH) University of Benin teaching hospital, several test and scan were done which showed that she is hydrocephalus. The doctor said she has a hole that pumped more fluid into her brain. The extra fluid disturbs her brain and causes her frequent convulsions and seizure. Doctors at UBTH concluded that my only daughter’s life could only be managed with the help of a shunt (a pipe attached to the brain to bring about the drainage of excess fluid found in her brain ). Doctors also recommended early surgery.
Surgery was done successfully in June 2008. It released the pressure to the brain. She felt a normal child until 2013 when she began to have seizures and convulsions repeatedly: between 12 and 13 times daily. We returned to the hospital for further treatments.

My husband had been dead three years and our financial struggles became hardest: the doctor told my daughter and me that the shunt was no longer working. It needed to be replaced. He also placed her on a daily permanent drug, Epanutin. The drug barely helped. Last year she had another surgery to place a new shunt tube.

Before the surgery, she developed frequent stomach upset and we thought her body was in hormone transformation; she was in her teenage years.

After the replacement of the shunt in July 2018 her stomach problem persisted and a lump developed in her navel part. She has operated again in November 2018, unfortunately, the surgeon told me she never had a hernia but that the shunt was not completely removed. The portion that was left inside her formed a lump in her navel.
She still has several bouts of convulsions and seizures, fainting, severe shakes and trembling, speech impairment, behavior challenges, sudden, gazing at objects for a long time.

Managing and caring for our sick daughter has financially and emotionally wrecked us. The costs are heavy, my brother.

Her monthly drugs to keep her functioning costs N50,000.

There are days and months we deliberately missed her doctors’ appointments, drug dosages because of lack of funds to pay for treatments and buy her medications. I have to manage her care with the little I earn from my job and donations from kind friends and family around.

Its been almost ten years since my husband died.

Thisday kept playing games with our lives.

I stopped calling or contacting them because they ran me around all the time. They lie so much and frustrated me. I need to focus on caring for my daughter. Thisday has not paid my dead husband owed wages, his benefits and entitlements. Jebose, I am not alone. Go to town and seek widows of This day staff being inhumanly marginalized and mistreated by Nduka Obaigbena and his management staff. It’s painful.

You will hear their stories and wondered if Nduka Obaigbena has any heart…”
Imagine how hard and financially depressing my daughter’s health care situation has impacted us. ……
As I write these, I just came back from eye surgery, stressed the remaining eye to write: so pardon me if there are errors…We are still struggling to survive my brother but one thing is certain; that God is in His throne…


NAME: Fatima Muraina

ACCOUNT NUMBER: 2035109109

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