President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the sum of N22.68 billion for the payment of retirement benefits to former workers of liquidated Nigerian Airways Ltd.
The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed who made the announcement, said the signed amount represented 50 per cent of the N45.3 billion entitlements of the former workers of the company.
15 years after, I’m happy to announce today, that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate release of N22.68 billion, being 50% of N45.3 billion total entitlements of the Ex-workers of Nigeria Airways Limited in Liquidation. pic.twitter.com/NWNIDZ3egL
— Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed (@ZShamsuna) September 24, 2018
Ahmed said after 15 years that ex-workers of Nigeria Airways Limited, the country’s national carrier which has since been liquidated, were not paid their retirement benefits, the President Buhari-led administration has put halt the retirees’ hardship.
To ensure that the Presidential directive is duly implemented in line with extant Financial Rules, the Minister has constituted a Committee to be headed by the Secretary of Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), Dr. MK Dikwa (Mni).
Speaking of the committee, Ahmed said the established committee is shouldered with the responsibility of physically verifying the claims of pensioners and relevant Next-of-Kin before the release of funds to the approved beneficiaries.
Other modalities, according to the Minister, will be worked out by the Committee to ensure speedy payment, transparency and integrity of the process.
Following the unveiling of Nigeria Air in London on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) threatened to halt the operation of the new national carrier should the Federal Government refuse to pay severances of all the staff members of the defunct Nigeria Airways.
Comrade Olayinka Abioye, General Secretary of the union, maintained that until the Government ensure the payment of the former workers, aviation unions will ensure the newly-unveiled project never come to fruition.
How Nigeria Airways got liquidated
The introduction of International Monetary Fund policies, along with corruption, mismanagement and over-staffing, led to a steady decline of Nigeria Airways.
The-then national carrier had accumulated significant debts that outstripped its revenues from the mid-1980s, to the extent that aircraft were impounded for unpaid debts.
When Nigeria Airways had a Boeing 737-200 as its sole serviceable aircraft in May 2003, the government decided not to pump more money into the over-staffed carrier but to liquidate it.
The decision was based on the declining performance of the airline’s past years of operations and on the carrier’s debts. The number of carried passengers had fallen from 2,1 million in 1985 to just 10,000 in the first quarter of 2003, and it controlled just 6% and 1% of the domestic and the international markets, respectively.
Despite the government’s injection of $200 million in the last decade of operations, Nigeria Airways owed over $528 million.