Their situation is very pathetic; one that you would never wish for even your enemy. They looked dejected with abject poverty playing a wry smile on their faces.
They are former Nigeria Airways workers. They served the airline and the country with dedication and commitment. Many of them are dying daily waiting for their final entitlements 13 years after the airline was liquidated.
At their number 10 Afisman Drive secretariat in Ikeja, Lagos, over a hundred of the ex-workers under their umbrella body, Nigeria union of Pensioners (NUP) Nigeria Airways branch gathered at the dilapidated one storey building to demand for the release of their entitlements more than a month after President Muhammadu Buhari approved the release of N47b for the workers.
Approval was announced by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on September 20, 2017 for immediate payment of N45 billion. It is now more than a month since the approval for payment was announced.
The irony of it all is that after the liquidation of the airline in 2007, their colleagues outside Nigeria were paid their 22 years severance benefits in full but their counterparts only got 5 years due to the efforts of the then late President Umaru Yar’dua.
Nigeria Airways foreign staff in the United States and Europe, it was gathered were paid their 22 years benefits in accordance with International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Previous Ministers of Aviation like late Prof. Babalola Borisade, Isa Yuguda and Femi Fani-Kayode failed to do anything including those after them like Stella Oduah, Osita Chidoka. They looked away. They were never interested because they did not consider it necessary to act or prevail on government to settle the ex-workers. Their actions amount to heartlessness and wickedness.
By general understanding, immediate payment should mean not more than two weeks. It is so shameful that the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Auditing (PICA) saddled with the responsibility of effecting this payment has been rather too slow with many of the ex-workers dying on daily basis for lack of money to buy drugs to take care of their failing health.
Woleshadare.net learnt that since the announcement, no one has contacted the union about this payment.
By now, PICA which is handling this payment would have called the union to a meeting to work out the modalities of payment with a view to informing the beneficiaries the date of commencement of verification but it is like everything is shrouded in secrecy. No one knows what is happening.
Infact very recently, the ex-workers lost some of their members. They were Alhaji B. Izgu, Alhaji Dairu Musa, Alhaji Baba Gana Bukar, Dr. Aka, Musa Otoro, Capt. Akinyosade, Capt. Akintaju, Mr. Keneth Onyechere and Engr. K.C. Amah to mention just a few.
Vice Chairman, NUP, Nigeria Airways branch, Segun Feyisetan said, “We are here to fight for our severance benefits. They paid us last in 2008 and the Federal Government has approved N45 billion for us since September 26, 2017 for payment. Since then, we have been waiting for PICA.”
“We are begging Buhari, Sirika and Kemi Adeosun to look into our case. We have lost five pilots this week (Last week). Capt Akah died just yesterday. We are appealing to them so that we don’t record more avoidable deaths.”