The problem caused by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo who liquidated Nigerian Airways without paying the workers their entitlements in 2005 is about to be remedied by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration reports our reporter, Emmanuel Ifeanyi Anthony
Information reaching us has it that years after grounding Nigerian Airways, which was the pride of the country, the Federal Government of Nigeria on Wednesday finally approved the payment of N45billion severance package to former staff of the defunct Nigerian airline. The issue had constantly caused series of agitation, protests and counter protests by former staff of the airline. It is sad that most of them have also died in the process of demanding their entitlement. But that is a story for another day.
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, made this known to journalists at the end of the last Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting said that that money has been approved for the settlement of the entitlements. He however did not say when the affected staff of the erstwhile airline would have access to their funds.
Recall that the national carrier was liquidated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration in 2005, and the workers had been embarking on protests nationwide over their unpaid entitlements. Obasanjo went ahead to sale the airline to his friend and business crony, Sir Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide, KSG, CON, which he renamed as Arik Airlines Limited currently under the receivership of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) as a result of huge debt of over N300billion.
The Minister said, “Governments, in the past, decided just to liquidate Nigeria Airways without tending to the issue of the entitlements of the workers and they have been struggling to get that paid. We came in and took it very seriously.
“I’m happy to announce that Mr. President has approved N45 billion, which has been confirmed to be the entitlements of these workers and Ministry of Finance has been instructed to pay the money. The ministry wrote to me last week that they have received the instruction to pay these workers, and therefore, they are setting up the modalities to pay. You should know it won’t be paid through my ministry before somebody will say I take some of it. It will be paid by finance through a process, and that process will commence very soon,’’ he said.