The Federal Government has dispatched a five-man team from the Ministry of Transportation to Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos over the final several packages to the workers of the defunct national carrier, Nigeria Airways.
This move gives strong indications that the Federal Government is serious about paying the final severance packages to more than 2,000 Nigeria airways workers amounting to N72 billion.
The team is on a Duty to Advice assignment, tasked with advising the government on what to do with the case of the staff of the defunct national carrier after they might have verified their files.
A source close to the venue told our correspondent that the team would complete its activities in Lagos by Friday and submit their reports to the Federal Government through the ministry for immediate action.
“The officials from the ministry of transportation have been here in Lagos since Monday and they have been going through the files of individuals ever since. With this, it shows that the government is serious about paying us our final several packages and benefits, just like some of our colleagues who worked for the airline outside the country especially those in the United Kingdom who were paid all their entitlements.
“We just hope they will accelerate it so that we can use the resources to take care of our immediate needs as some of us are in need of urgent medical attention, but we can’t do that because we don’t have money to take care of ourselves.”
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo liquidated Nigeria Airways in 2003 when he decried that he could only meet two aircraft out of 29 aircraft he left behind as Head of State in 1979 when he returned to office in 1999.
In 2016, the Federal Government set up a committee to verify those who would benefit from the severance packages as some of the beneficiaries have died over the years.
The Secretary General of the Nigerian Union of Air Transport Employees, Olayinka Abioye confirmed the planned payment of the benefits to the workers.
Mr. Abioye had noted that the unions have over the years pushed for the final payment of the severance packages to the former workers and assured that the money would be released to them soon, but could not confirm the actual time it would be released.
He said: “Yes, we have been pushing for the money to be released to the workers and we understand that the government may eventually pay them very soon, but, how soon is what I don’t know.
“However, I can also confirm to you that a presidential committee was set up by the government for verification purpose. As at the last time, the total severance packages to the workers was N72 billion.”
Late President Umaru Yar’Adua had paid the workers about five years severance package in 2008 out of the 25 years reached between the workers and the government with a promise to pay the rest in due course, but he died in office before he could redeem his pledge.
Besides, investigation carried out by our correspondent indicated that no fewer than 30 per cent of the workers had died in the past 13 years of the liquidation of the carrier, following their inability to access funds for medical bills and good up keep among others.
Just recently, Minister of State, Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika had in a function in Lagos told journalists that his major concern was sourcing for funds to settle the former workers of the airline.