By Victor Ahiuma-Young& Monsuru Olowoopejo
AFTER 15 years of waiting for the payment of their terminal benefits, with many dying prematurely during the protracted agitation for the entitlements to be paid, the verification and payment of the benefits of former workers of the defunct Nigeria Airways began Monday with mixed feelings.
The verification and payment schedules hold between Monday, October 15, and Monday , October 22 in Lagos State, between October 15 and 18 in Enugu State and between October 15 and 22 in Kano State.
Those who are unable to visit any of these three centres for verification and payment will have to go to Abuja for their exercise and payment.
However, as the exercise goes on serious issues are manifesting.
Among the issues is the that of next of kins. It appeared that many of them were not informed on what to do.
It was on Monday, that most of them who did not have letter of administration from the high court, were advised to get the letter before the exercise ends so that the names of their dead loved ones could be included on the list for payment.
The problem is that a letter of administration could take up to a month to obtain from the court
When Vanguard visited the Skypower Catering Service venue of Lagos exercise, the pensioners were seen in the yesterday heavy down pour waiting to be captured by the officials of Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD, deployed to the state.
Mrs. Elizabeth Babalola, who retired in 2002 a year for the liquidation of the national carrier, lamented that she arrived on Monday but was surprised by the condition of the premises.
She said: “First, we were told that the power supply did not function. I do not the know reason why they could not provide generator because money has been provided by President Muhammadu Buhari for the exercise. It was meant to start yesterday (Monday) but the process could not commence as stated.
I don’t know why they allowed us to suffer so much like this. We have been in the rain without adequate shelter and some of us who came from other states had to sleep at the center. I want to appeal to the agency that they should hasten up the process. I don’t see any reason we should be subjected to this torture. This is what we have worked for.”
On his part, Everest Obichere, said “We are shocked that after arriving here as early as possible yesterday (Monday), we realised that the names of our relatives that have passed on are not on the list approved for the exercise. We are next of kin to the deceased who were ex-staff of defunct Nigerian Airways. But we heard from the minister that both living and the dead were expected to receive their entitlements. But on arrival, we realised that the names of our parents and husbands were not included in the list pasted by the agency.
“We remembered that when the airline was liquidated in 2003, there was verification conducted a year after. It was based on this that the severance package was paid. Don’t forget that our counterparts in USA and UK had received their benefits years ago. In 2007, five years benefit was paid. 11 years after, God used President Muhammadu Buhari to release 50 percent of the fund.
“A lot of us could not find our names. We are aggrieved because this is what our parents worked for. But they are denying us our right. This is an outstanding balance of the severance balance. Half of the fund has been released and we are having issues with missing names. Most of the pensioners are affected at the centers. We hope that President Muhammadu Buhari help to address these challenges that have trailed the fund.
“I know that if the money had been paid by the previous administration, we would not have need to assembly here. The true pensioners would have collected their money. But they died while waiting for the fund which they had promised their dependent that immediately the federal government released the fund they would use it to improve the life of their dependants because they were the breadwinners.”