Yemisi Izuora with additional report
Over 1,000 ex-workers’ of Nigeria Airways out of the 5, 968 would begin to receive their severance benefits as early as Thursday, an official of verification team for the exercise, Mr. Lookman Animashaun said.
The verification exercise which started on Monday entered its second day yesterday as the Presidential Initial on Continuous Audit (PICA) have until next week Monday to complete the exercise.
The exercise is being conducted in the premises of the Skypower Aviation Catering, a subsidiary of the defunct Nigeria Airways where a man who was brought to the verification centre in an ambulance from an undisclosed hospital reportedly died.
The deceased passed away shortly as he was not able to undergo verification before he passed on and was hurriedly taken in the same ambulance to mortuary.
At the place were very elderly men, women very sick men and women. Some of them were wheeled to the place while others came in crutches. Their situations were not helped as the whole exercise was rowdy with many of them proceeding from the first point of checking their names.
After that they were asked to proceed to the second stage which was to get a long form where they were asked to fill their bio data and other information required of them.
The third stage is data capture area where their entitlements are spelt out and computed for final payment.
Animashaun confirmed that 5, 968 ex workers are expected to be paid, adding that the exercise closes October 22, 2018.
He said 1, 000 ex workers turn up each day for verification exercise, adding that the situation is fraught with logistic problem but quickly added that the situation was progressing very well.
He disclosed that the government had concluded plans to pay them 50 per cent of the entire entitlement, stressing that the other 50 per cent would be paid in the next six months.
It would be recalled that many former personnel of the defunct Nigeria Airways Limited (NAL) have lost their lives while waiting for their pension and severance package to be paid by the federal government.
More than 15 years after the liquidation of Nigeria Airways Limited, President Muhammadu Buhari last month approved the immediate release of N22.68 billion for settlement of the retirement benefits of ex-workers of the defunct airline.
Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika lamented that past governments decided to liquidate Nigeria Airways without tending to the issues of the entitlement of the workers, adding that the workers have been struggling to get paid.
“This government decided to take it seriously, and Mr President has approved N45 billion as the entitlements of these workers and the Ministry of Finance has been instructed to pay.
“The ministry has written that they have received instructions to pay these workers and, therefore, they are going about setting up all the modalities to pay. It will not be paid through my ministry before somebody will say I have stolen it. It will be paid by Ministry of Finance and that process will commence very soon. It took a long time for the workers of Nigeria Airways to be attended to; we thank them for their patience.”