The Federal Government is wrapping up plans to offset the remaining 50 per cent of severance package, amounting to N22.6 billion, to ex-employees of defunct Nigeria Airways, New Telegraph reliably gathered over the weekend.
Findings showed that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, was working round the clock in ensuring prompt payment of the balance without further delay.
The last tranche was to have been cleared last year going by government’s initial commitment as of the time the first amount of N22.6 billion was paid. Some representatives of ex-workers of Nigeria Airway, acting on behalf and in the interest of affected ex-workers, were sighted during their several visits to the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning last week in an apparent follow up on the payment.
Chairman, Nigeria Airways Pensioners, Comrade Sam Nzene, confirmed prospect of payment to New Telegraph over the weekend at the premises of the ministry.
“The minister is active, very active on payment plan. In fact, arrangement to offset the balance is at the conclusive stage. It’s a matter of weeks, not months any longer.
Recall the payment, I mean the balance of 50 per cent, ought to have been paid since last year. But you know, so many other things cropped up, and the biggest of them all, COVID- 19, set in.
The minister is working assiduously to making sure the payment comes to us without further delay,” Nzene confirmed. Contacted for official position, Special Assistant (Media) to the Minister, Mallam Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, who didn’t deny the claim, promised to furnish our reporter with details.
Years after its liquidation, ex-workers of the defunct national carrier underwent intensive audit conducted by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) headed by retired Permanent Secretary, Mohammed Dikwa, who was a director in Budget Ministry at the time.
This was after Europebased ex-employees had been paid, leaving only retired Nigeria-based ex-staff, whose payment process began in 2018.
The government approved payment of 50 per cent entitlements to the ex-staff who successfully completed the verification exercise. The sum of N22.6 billion was approved as 50 per cent with a promise to liquidate the balance in 2019.
A capturing exercise was conducted by PICA in Lagos, Kano and Enugu ahead of the disbursement of the N22.6 billion approved as part payment of their entitlements. The total package of retirement benefits of the ex-workers was put at N43 billion.
Ahmed had, during a Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in 2018, explained that though the formal approval given for payment of the entitlement was N45 billion, due to paucity of funds, President Muhammadu Buhari only gave approval for the initial payment of 50 per cent (N22.6 billion). “We hope in 2019, to pay the balance,” she had said.