Ex-workers of defunct national carrier, Nigeria Airways have petitioned Alhaji Umar Faruk Umar, the Emir of Daura, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home town, over the non-payment of their final severance packages of N45bn as approved by the Federal Government in May 2017. 

In the petition, the ex-workers of Nigeria Airways under the aegis of Aviation Unions Grand Alliance, AUGA, accused Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, the Minister of Finance of being non-nonchalant about the payment of their severance packages. 

They therefore appealed to the Emir to intervene in the petition titled, ‘Cry for your personal intervention – Nigeria Airways Terminal Emolument Alteration,’ dated November 28, 2017,  signed by Engr. Lookman Animashaun, the Chairman of AUGA and made available to SaharaReporters.

The ex- staff Nigeria Airways said intervention of the Emir would help to put a stop to continuous deaths of their members. AUGA also complained that the N45billion approved for payment of the severance packages of its members was a far cry from the N78 billion recommended by the Inter-Ministerial Committee set up to calculate how much it will take to pay off the ex-workers of the defunct national carrier in 2006.

The Unions recalled that in a memo with the reference number: TCA0036/S.1/T6/183 on August 10, 2016, Sen. Hadi Sirika, Minister of State for Aviation had asked President Muhammadu for approval of a calculated and verified N78,055,909,919.90 for the final payment of the terminal benefit of 5,909 pensioners of the defunct carrier.

AUGA, however, noted that on May 15, 2017, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was then the Acting President, approved N45.3bn for the payment of the severance packages in a memo with the reference number SH/OVP/DCOS/FMF/056 to Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, the Minister of Finance.

“This to the ex-workers is a clear violation of the work done by the inter-ministerial committee of 2006, a clear violation of the provision in Sec.173 (2) and (3) of the constitution and a nullification of our written affirmation to stop further demands and litigation for the smooth take-off of national carrier.

“His Royal Highness, may wish to recall that the approval to the Minister of Finance of N45bn was first given on May 15, 2017, but we are still awaiting verification and payments several months after,” the ex-workers of Nigeria Airways said in the petition.

AUGA blamed Adeosun for the reduction in the sum approved for payment of their severance packages.  

Nevertheless, AUGA urged Emir of Daura to reach out to Buhari to direct the immediate payment of the approved sum, pending the restoration of the full payment of N78bn. 

The Unions also recalled that Adeosun had in an earlier letter to Sirika on September 13, 2017 with the reference number: OHMF/PICA/FMT/28/VOL.1/94, confirmed that a total number of 5,909 of the ex-workers would benefit from the severance packages.

She, however, said that physical verification of beneficiaries would be carried out by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit and other relevant Federal Government agencies before the payments are carried out.

Adeosun further stated that the ex-workers would be notified on the commencement of the payment as well as the processes of the Promissory Note Programme (PNP) was completed, but, she was silent on when the payment would begin.  

The ex-workers of the national airline had at a rally last week, accused Adeosun of not willing to release the money approved for payment of their severance packages the Federal Government.

They also claimed 840 of the expected beneficiaries of the pension package have died since 2003 when Nigeria Airways was liquidated. The Unions said at their rally in Lagos that Adeosun claim that the National Assembly was behind the delay in payment of their severance packages has been discovered to be false.  

The Minister of State for Aviation told journalists in Lagos last Thursday that retired workers would be paid their severance packages before the end of the first tenure of Buhari. But like his finance counterpart, was not specific on the date of the payment.

“The only thing I can say is that the money would be paid soon. I can assure you that it would be paid before the end of the first tenure of this administration.

“For almost 10 years, no one did anything about the payment, but when we came on-board, we promised that we were going to pay and we have taken steps to ensure the payment. The workers should exercise a bit of patient with the government.”

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