…Say colleagues die daily, as unions petition President
By Victor Ahiuma-Young
FOR the former staff of defunct Nigeria Airways, the hope of receiving their benefits before their death is fast becoming a mirage since the liquidation of successive government since President Olusegun Obasanjo government liquidation of the national carrier in 2004, has refused to pay the frustrated and dejected ex- workers their entitlements.
Since the coming of this government in 2015, the Nigerian Airways pensioners have pleaded, written letters, protested among others, to dissuade the government to pay their benefits but to no avail.
In February it was revealed that no fewer than 900 pensioners of the defunct Nigeria Airways, have died while waiting for payment of their terminal benefits.
Unconfirmed reports, claimed that the death has hit over the 1000 mark.
Once again, the ex-workers have pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari, to end the daily death of the ex-workers by ordering the immediate payment of their entitlements for them to take of their medical needs and others.
Speaking to Pension and You, Chairman of Nigeria Airways’ branch of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, NUP, Mr Sam Ezene, urged President Buhari to order the immediate payment of their severance and other benefits.
He lamented that they had everything needed to be done for their benefits to be paid, and still, nothing was forthcoming saying no day will pass without you hearing of death of Nigeria Airways pensioner. We have been been turned into destitute. We have been to the National Assembly over this matter, written to their leaders to no avail.
Unions beg Buhari
Meanwhile, worried by the protracted issue and rising cases of avoidable deaths of the pensioners, NUP, National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATSSSAN and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, NAAPE, have petitioned President Buhari demanding for the release of the severance benefits of the Nigeria Airway pensioners.
In the petition by NUP General Secretary, Elder Actor Zal, NAUTE General Secretary, Olayinka Olu’ Abioye, ATSSSAN Deputy General Secretary, Frances Akinjole and NAAPE General Secretary, Ocheme Aba, dated August 8, pleaded with President Buhari to intervene and ensure the release of the fund for the payment of the benefits before the end of the month.
In the petition titled “Save our souls-Demand for the release of severance benefits for Pensioners of Nigeria Airways, the unions among others, said ” His excellency May wish to note that following national outcry for intervention, your exalted office responded swiftly by approving the payment. That gracious action has unfortunately failed to translate into desired relief for the hapless pensioners simply because the vehicle employed by the ministry of finance for the payment has run into a cul de sac.
“His excellency May also wish to note that this payment is among many other payment items amounting to over one trillion naira for which the approval of National Assembly is being sought to be paid to promissory notes. We know however, that by the provisions of the fiscal responsibility act, recurrent expenditure such as pensions cannot be funded through promissory notes and sadly enough, discussions at the National Assembly has indicated that much.
“We are aware, your excellency, that the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria clearly provides that pensions of public officers are to be drawn directly from the consolidated revenue of the federation which seemingly is the opposite of what is being done presently. This approach can only elongate the sufferings of the already impoverished pensioners who are dying weekly from poverty related causes.
“This SOS, your excellency, is to appeal to the father in you to earnestly prevail on the minister of finance to implement your directive on this payment through a direct recourse to the consolidated revenue of the federation as required by the constitution. Alternatively, your excellency May request for the urgent appropriation of the payment by the National Assembly as supplementary budget or virement.
“May we also draw attention to the fact that the presidential initiative on continuous audit (PICA) has arbitrarily reduced the entitlement of the pensioners whereas pension entitlement of public officers are guided by clear public service rules and applicable conditions of the service. Therefore, arbitrary actions by ad-hoc bodies could lead to resolutions which may not proffer final remedies. We therefore humbly request your excellency to prevail on all concerned to ensure that the payment is made in full. ”
They Oadded that “on behalf of living and dead pensioners of the liquidated Nigeria airways, we beseech your good office to help resolve this lingering impasse of huge human degradation and restore the dignity of these hapless pensioners. We believe that history will remember you well by so doing .”