Ex-Airways workers to get final N5bn severance package

The Federal Government has concluded plans to pay the last tranche of severance pay to ex-workers of the liquidated Nigeria Airways.

 Consequently, the Federal Government has set aside about N5 billion to clear off final batch of ex- Nigeria Airways employees ,whose number is put at about  1, 000 Aviation Metric learned.

In 2018, the former airline workers received part of their severance package after waiting 11 years. They underwent verification across designated centres in the country.

One of the aircraft of the liquidated Nigeria Airways

A source conversant with update and progress made thus far in respect to final one- off Pension payment to ex- Airways employees told our reporter that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs . Zainab Ahmed had gone far with the arrangement.

 According to him, while all ex- employees of the defunct national carrier had been paid, the 1000 number have also been paid 50 percent leaving 50 percent outstanding.

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He said the payment would have been cleared before now but for paucity of funds . He was optimistic the payment would be cleared in a short time given the attention Mrs. Ahmed accords it.

 However, Chairman, Nigeria Airways’ Pensioners , Mr. Sam Nzene confirmed that indeed the government had moved far in settling the outstanding debts.

 “Yes, the Minister is  on top of our case. She has been wonderful. She has listening ears and she fulfilled her pledge . This current government did what previous administration failed  to do, by attending to the plight of retired Nigeria Airways employees”.

 “Every genuine and verified ex- worker  had  been paid. The remaining people, about  a thousand  have been paid 50 percent. What remains unpaid is just 50 percent and about N5 billon will clear it. They have taken 50 percent before. Were it not  revenue dip experienced by government due to COVID-19 pandemic,  they would have been paid. I have been following up. That is why I came to the Ministry of Finance last week. The good thing is, the Minister has  listening ears , and she is  doing everything  to get it cleared”.

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 In 2018, the Federal Government pledged to clear retirement benefits of  the former workers of the defunct airline.   The national carrier ceased operation in.  2003 .

 The Federal Executive Council debated the issue and endorsed the payment. The Minister, Zainab Ahmed had during a Federal Executive Council ( FEC) meeting 2018 explained that , though the formal approval given for payment of the entitlements was N45 billion, due to paucity of funds, President Muhammadu Buhari gave approval for the initial payment of 50 per cent (N22.6 billion) and second tranche payments to be paid later.

“We hope in 2019, to pay the balance,” she  had said.

One of Nigeria Airways’ aircraft at a graveyard

To qualify for payment, all former workers of the airline underwent intensive audit conducted by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA). PICA is superintended by full fledged Director , and the office is located at Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

It would be recalled that all  Europe based ex- employees of former airline had been paid , leaving  only  retired Nigeria based ex- staff .

 Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika recently disclosed that, “The money has been provided and we are willing to pay, but we have to legalise it by going through the National Assembly to approve and stamp it.

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“It is the requirement of the law and this government will always do things in accordance with the law. So, we will pay the workers.”

Wole Shadare