Stories by Rosemary Onuoha
There is the indication that the disagreement amongst ex-staffers of the defunct Nigerian Airways may have led to suspension of processing of their pension and other entitlements.
But the ex-workers are not taking excuses and they are now bracing up for a showdown with the federal government, FG, threatening to abort the proposed Nigeria Air, the new national carrier, scheduled to take off later this year.
The ex-staffers have vowed to shut down the Nigerian airspace if the Federal Government goes ahead to establish the proposed new national airline without paying their pensions and entitlements.
The former staff also vowed to resist every move by the government to commence operations of the proposed new national airline if their demands are not met.
President of the National Union of Pensioners, NUP, Dr. Abel Afolayan, who made the assertion, noted that all former foreign staff of Nigerian Airways have been paid their pensions and entitlements while Nigerians are still being owed. Afolayan said, “The federal Government is making plans to establish a new national airline. We want to let the FG know that unless our pensions and entitlements are paid, we will not allow the new national carrier to take off.
“The FG have settled and cleared all pension outstandings of former foreign staff while the Nigerian workers have been abandoned, as if white people are superior to black people. So if the airspace is shut in the future by the workers, government should know that it is not the fault of the pensioners but theirs.”
It will be recalled that the proposed national airline for Nigeria is expected to commence in December this year and will gulp $8.8 million preliminary cost and $300 million as take-off cost.
The FG had said that it will not fully fund the airline as it has opted for a Public Private Partnership, PPP, to deliver a national carrier that would stand the test of time and be world class in operation and management. According to Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, Nigeria will receive the first set of five airplanes for the airliner on December 19, 2018 and will make profit in three years after operations.
Reacting to the position of the former Nigeria airways staff, Executive Secretary of Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, said that the Nigerian airways pensioners will be paid when all the issues are settled.
Ikeazor said, “For Nigerian Airways pensioners, PTAD hasn’t gone ahead to conduct their verification because we have the issue of two conflicting groups. One group wants to be put on monthly pension payroll for life while the other group wants an outright payment. We are actually waiting on the Ministry of Aviation and the Ministry of Finance to let us know the way forward.
“The federal government will pay them their due pensions. No one will be left behind. Just like the case of Delta Steel Company that was privatized in 2005, and the former workers had lost all hope. Thirteen years after, I am proud to say that the government has put them on monthly pension payroll pending when the bulk of their arrears will be paid. So no one will be left behind. The Nigerian airways pensioners will be paid when all the issues are settled.”