Nigeria Airways ex-workers accept N22.68b, await N55.62b balance

Ex-workers of the defunct Nigeria Airways, yesterday, okayed the grant of N22.68 billion recently approved by the Federal Government, though in anticipation of N55.62 billion balance.

The 6000 beneficiaries, under the aegis of Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), Nigeria Airways branch, will today sit at a meeting with the Presidential Payment Committee in Abuja, to fashion out modality of disbursement.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, approved the sum of N22.68 billion, being a part payment of the sum of N45 billion the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved over a year ago.
Some of the senior citizens had welcomed the news with mixed feelings, though quick to point out that the N22.68 billion is a gross shortfall from the total sum of N78.3 billion estimated by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), in 2016.

Publicity Secretary of the NUP, Henry Ojuderi, told The Guardian, after a congress in Lagos, that the union had agreed to accept the grand, “even as we will continue to remind and ask government for the remaining 50 per cent.”

Ojuderi said the union commended the new Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, for her effort and swift intervention to get them settled.

“On getting to office, she (the minister) was surprised that we have not been paid. So, we owe her our gratitude, even if it is N45 billion that we were expecting at the first tranche of payment. But we will keep pressing till the whole N78 billion is paid,” he said.

FEC in September 2017 okayed the sum of N45 billion for the payment of about 5,909 workers’ entitlement. The defunct airline was liquidated by the Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration in 2004, over maladministration, huge debts, and inefficient services by the national carrier.

Although late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration gave a five-year pension pay to some of the workers in 2008, but several others have not received any benefit since 2004.

The Federal Ministry of Finance on Monday, disclosed that President Buhari approved the immediate release of the total sum of N22.68 billion.

Ahmed, in a statement, said the move came after an initial submission of N78 billion by the ex-workers as retirement benefits.

She said: “As you might be aware, the ex-workers of Nigeria Airways Limited (in liquidation) were not paid their retirement benefit for the past 15 years. Many ex-workers have been through untold hardship. This unfortunate situation cannot be allowed under a responsible administration.”

Ahmed said she had constituted a committee to be headed by the Secretary of PICA, Mohammed Dikwa, to ensure due implementation of the Presidential directive in line with extant financial rules.

Other members of the Committee are representatives of the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, the Federal Ministry of Aviation, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Bureau of Public Enterprises, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), the Union of Ex-Workers of Nigeria Airways Limited (in Liquidation), and the Budget Office of the Federation.