…Blame Finance Minister for non-release
By Lawani Mikairu
Pensioners of the defunct Nigeria Airways, yesterday in Lagos blocked the Lagos Airport roads for hours, protesting continuous delay in the release of N45billion approved by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, for the payment of their accumulated benefits.
The protest which started with a rally at the open field opposite the Skypower Catering Service premises at about 9.30 am, caused unprecedented gridlock for hours on the airports roads and its environs even after the protest ended.
FEC had in September 2017 approved the payment of N45 billion the ex-workers have been fighting since former President Olusegun Obasanjo liquidated the national carrier in 2004.
Displaying several placards with inscriptions such as “President Buhari, save us from Kemi Adeosun now”, “ Mrs Adeosun, your action and inactions are man’s inhumanity to man”, “Madam Minister of finance, where is our pension and entitlements, pay us now”, the aggrieved pensioners blamed the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun for the delay.
They chanted solidarity songs, and demanded explanation from the minister on the cause of the delay in the payment.
According to them, the N45 billion is out of the N78 billion pensions owed them by government.
Addressing the protesters, Chairman of Nigerian Airways’ Branch of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, NUP, Mr Sam Ezene, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to direct Adeosun to release the pensioners’ entitlements.
Ezene noted that the affected pensioners had earlier pleaded with the Ministry of Finance to release the N45 billion without response.
According to him: “The Federal Executive Council in September 2017 approved the payment of N45 billion which was part of pension entitlements of the defunct Nigeria Airways workers.
“In spite of our peaceful protests at the Ministry of Finance and the National Assembly in December, our entitlements have not been paid. There is lack of hope and depression which is killing our members and this is why we want the public to know that we are going through a lot of pains and anger.
“In as much as the President has approved this money, he should ensure that we are finally paid.”
Ezene said the minister had insisted that approval for the release must come from the National Assembly; our findings had shown that there was nothing like Nigeria Airways before the legislators.
He said if the minister did not react to the pensioners’ protest by the end of February, they would shut the ministry until they get paid.