November 28, 2018

Incredible: Similar surnames deny Airways pensioners benefits

Incredible: Similar surnames deny Airways pensioners benefits

By Victor Ahiuma-Young

THE woes of the defunct Nigerian Airways workers and Pensioners seem to be endless as some of them have been denied payment of their entitlements even after last month’s verification exercise.

In fact, even those that have paid, lamented their harrowing experiences before they were paid long after verification with some informing that it is not an easy road to pass through.

Recall that 15 years after the the liquidation of the national carrier by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2002, and after long agitations and struggles for the payment of their benefits, with many of the beneficiaries dying in the process, President Muhammadu Buhari released N22.6 billion for 50 percent part payment of their benefits.

Despite the gesture of President Buhari, it is not yet uhuru for many of the pensioners as they are still battling to get paid.

The verification and payment exercise was conducted by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit, PICA, in Lagos, Kano and Enugu states.

Vanguard investigations have revealed that among those yet to be paid their benefits after verification exercise that entailed among others, bio-data  capturing are those with identical surnames.

It was gathered that these former staff of Nigerian Airways have been running from pillar to post for the payment of their benefits to no avail.

One of the aggrieved pensioners in this group, told Vanguard that they planned to storm Abuja collectively any moment from now to find out why their benefits have been seized.

He said “We cannot understand why they have seized our benefits.    We are hearing that the account department is refusing to pay our entitlements to our bank accounts because we bear the same surname. Is it wrong to bear the same surname in an Organisation? We do not bear the same first name. We did not work in the same department. We did not have the same staff number. We were verified, did finger printing, facial capturing and other bio-data capturing during the recent verification exercise.

Yet, they have refused to pay us our benefits. We do not know what we did wrong. Some of us have individually visited PICA office in Abuja to clear the issue, but to no avail. We are planning to collectively go to their office in Abuja to demand why they have continued to seize our money. We have been waiting for this money for a long time. We have gone through all kinds of pains and suffering with many of our colleagues not living to receive what is their due. We are begging those sitting on our money to release it to us for us to use to attend to our needs.

It will be recalled that during the early stage of the verification, Nigerian Union of Pensioners, NUP, Nigeria Airways Branch, expressed concern over the omission of some names of its members undergoing verification in three centres across the country.

Speaking at Kano State venue of the exercise, National Vice Chairman of NUP, Muhammad Adamu, claimed PICA expunged some names of the retirees from the original list.

“There were committees set up by different governments and at different times but only this committee (PICA) expunged the names of some of the retirees from the list,” he said.

He said that the quick intervention of the leadership of the union calmed fray nerves, and eventually saved the situation from degenerating into a serious crisis, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the issue to ensure that all the affected retirees were paid their entitlements.

“These people have suffered enough even when we took the matter to court they were in the list but suddenly the committee removed their names,” he alleged.

Adamu, who commended President Buhari for taking the necessary step to ensure that they were paid their entitlements, expressed satisfaction with the ongoing verification exercise in Kano centre. “We are appealing to whoever is concerned to see reason and ensure that all those affected are paid their entitlements to alleviate their sufferings,“ he said.