Some relatives of deceased workers of the defunct Nigeria Airways Ltd. on Monday protested the exclusion of their relatives as the Federal Government commenced final verification for the payment of the entitlements of the former airways workers.
No fewer than 800 former workers of the defunct airline have lost their lives since the airline folded up 14 years ago.
The family members told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the venue of the verification in Ikeja that the exclusion of over 150 names from benefiting from the N22.6 billion approved by President Muhammadu Buhari was wrong.
Speaking on behalf of the affected family members, Mr. Seun Wright said that his late mother, Mrs. Oluwadamilola Wright, worked as an engineer with the defunct national carrier before its liquidation in 2004.
“When the list came out last week, we were surprised that her name was not on it because she received the five years severance package paid by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2008.
“We later discovered that there are over 150 people whose names were omitted from the list across the country for this new part payment approved by the president.
“It is unfortunate that the names of most of our parents’ did not reflect on the list.
“We have approached the union people and they claimed that what is being paid is pension which is not for life but we know and a lot of people have confirmed to us that this is not a pension payment.
“It is severance and gratuity payment of people who served up to the last day of liquidation of Nigeria Airways.”
Wright called on the government, through the Minister of Finance, to urgently look into the issue in order not to deny people their entitlements after serving Nigeria meritoriously.
However, Mr. Godwin Jibodu, Chairman of the Nigeria Airways Elders Forum, explained that the omission might be connected with the years the affected former staff passed on.
Jibodu said: “It depends on when their parents died. Like I told them, if your parents have died before the liquidation, of course you cannot get anything.
“Another thing is that the arrears of pension are not being paid now. It is only the pension, 10 years forward that is being paid.
“So, if somebody’s parent died in 2007, it means the person died during the pension arrears which is to come later.’’
Jibodu, however, commended the president for coming to the aid of the ex-workers, who had been living in pains because of a lack of money to attend to their health and other issues.
“You can see that even without collecting the money, people are looking enthusiastic and healthy because there is hope.
“Once they get this money now they can take care of themselves and instead of people dying, people will live.’’
According to him, the verification and payment are being done in batches by the committee, comprising union members and officials from the Federal Ministry of Finance and Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.
Jibodu said that the committee would be attending to no fewer than 600 people daily in the Lagos Zone till the exercise was concluded.
He expressed optimism that the government would keep to its promise of paying the balance of the over N22.4 billion within six months, to end the agitation of the former workers.