FG releases N22.68bn for Nigeria Airways retirees

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved immediate release of N22.68 billion for settlement of the retirement benefits of ex-workers of the defunct airline.

The money is part payment of the N45 billion which the federal government had approved in 2017 for settlement of the defunct airline workers’ severance benefit.

The supervisory minister of finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who announced this on Monday in Abuja also said the president had approved the release of another N20 billion as ‘revitalisation’ fund of public universities based on the request by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

She said the N22.68 billion was 50 per cent of the total entitlement of N45.3 billion agreed for the liquidated former airline workers.

The initial submission for the retirement benefits of the workers was about N78 billion.

But, the N45.3 billion was arrived at following the verification exercise conducted by the presidential initiative on continuous audit (PICA) in conjunction with other interest groups.

The minister said the verification was conducted in line with the conditions of service offered the former staff by Nigeria Airways Limited in liquidation and other extant rules and regulations.

Following the long delay in the payment of the retirement benefits after the liquidation of Nigeria Airways, Ahmed said many of the ex-workers went through untold hardship.

“This unfortunate situation cannot be allowed to continue under a responsible administration,” she said.

To ensure the presidential directive on the payment of the entitlement was duly implemented, she said a committee has been constituted headed by the secretary of PICA, MK Dikwa, to handle the exercise.

Other members of the committee include representatives of the office of the head of civil service of the federation; office of the accountant general of the federation; ministry of aviation; federal ministry of finance; Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE); Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD); Budget Office of the Federation and Union of Ex-Workers of Nigeria Airways Limited (in liquidation).

The committee is expected to physically verify the claims of pensioners and relevant next-of-kin before the release of funds to the approved beneficiaries.

Other modalities will be worked out by the committee, to ensure speedy payment, transparency and integrity of the process, it was learnt.

On the N20 billion approved for the revitalisation of public universities, the minister recalled the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the federal government and ASUU in 2013 on the need to improve funding for staff welfare and provision of critical infrastructure.

With Premium Times report

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