The Federal Government has approved the second and final tranche of N22.6 billion to pay the pension and gratuities of ex-workers of defunct Nigerian Airways.
The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, recently secured the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari, to the release and subsequently pays the outstanding 50 per cent entitlements.The approval was not unconnected with the move to appease some of the pensioners that had been on protest at the Ministry of Finance secretariat since the week began.
Recall that about 6000 senior citizens were penciled to receive payment of salary arrears covering about five years and 30 per cent pay rise on account of the national carrier that was liquidated in 2004. Buhari, last September, approved the sum of N22.68 billion for the payment of salary and gratuities. The grant was a part payment of the sum of N45 billion the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved for the workers about year ago.
Permanent Secretary, Special Duty, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mohammed Dikwa, had promised the protesting pensioners, who earlier blocked entrances and exit points into the ministry, that their pay would be processed as soon as possible.
Dikwa said the minister had worked tirelessly to get the approval for the final settlement. The former staffers had blocked entrances and exit points into the Federal Ministry of Finance preventing the minister and others from leaving the vicinity on Tuesday.
The Guardian learnt that the protesters were enraged over alleged abandonment since Sunday. They had been invited from various parts of the country to attend verification exercise conducted by the Presidential Initiative for Continuous Audit (PICA) in the process of getting their final entitlements.
Chairman of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Nigeria Airways branch, Sam Nzene, explained that the consultant, who was meant to conduct the screening disappeared claiming that government owed him.“Since Monday morning, nobody attended to the pensioners and dependants of pensioners that have died,” Nzene said.
President, Aviation Union Grand Alliance (AUGA), Lookman Animashaun, however, commended the FG for keeping it promise of getting the ex-workers paid. “The union’s leadership is full of thanks to Mr. President, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Hon. Min. of Finance and the Min. of State for Aviation, for graciously putting smiles on the faces of all, once again.
“We equally hope, pray and look forward to the return of the Hon. Min. of Finance, Hadjia Zainab Ahmed, and the Min. of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to the next administration’s cabinet for the continuation of their great service to this great country,” Animashaun said.