BY MICHAEL OCHE, Abuja
Business activities at the Federal Ministry of Finance was on Tuesday disrupted for several hours as protesting pensioners of the defunct Nigerian Airways barricaded the entrance to demand immediate payment of their severance package, which amounts to N45 billion.
The pensioners lamented that the payment of the severance package has
lingered since 2008, after former President Olusegun Obasanjo dissolved the Nigerian Airways.
As early as 11am, the pensioners who arrived in their numbers blocked the entrance to the ministry, chanting solidarity song. They accused the ministers of Finance, and Aviation, Kemi Adeosun of refusing to release the N45billion pension fund which they said was approved by the Federal Executive Council in September.
Speaking to Journalists, the national president of the former workers of Nigeria Airways, Sam Nzeme, explained that since September this year President Buhari made the pronouncement, his union has written countless letters to the Finance and Aviation ministers in view to starting the process of paying the money to them, but all their efforts went to deaf ears.
e lamented that he no fewer than 789 members have died while waiting for their entitlement.
The pensioners who sat on the floor at entrance of the ministry with different placates written; “Nigerian Airways pensioners are Nigerian citizen, treat us with dignity”, “Mr President, Kemi Adeosun has not paid us our pension”, “Kemi Adeosun obey PMB, pay our pension before Christmas”, “Kemi Adeosun, where is Nigeria Airways pension payment, speak up” etc, were singing “pay us our money Kemi Adeosun”.
He said, “Because of Non-payment of this money, over 789 of our members
have died so far. And even yesterday, we got a news that one of our member died. These deaths occur mainly because of lack of fund for treatment and feeding. In fact our members are in a sorry state due the situation. We
don’t know if it was a crime to serve this country.”
Narrating the unfortunate situation, he said, “But in September, President
Buhari announced to the world after a certain Executive Council Meeting,
that funds for the payment of Nigeria Airways Pensioners is ready and he
ordered for the fund to be released to us immediately. He even said we
should be paid before Christmas but this is 6 days to the said Christmas we
have not heard anything either from the minister of Aviation or minister of
“This fund was supposed to be release to us by the Finance minister Kemi
Adeosun, before but till now, she has not communicated to us, neither has
she made any move towards verification let alone paying us.
“We have written several letters to the Aviation and Finance ministers for
a meeting so that we can adequately inform our members the situation but a
have not receive any response from them. But have decided to stay here
untill they give us date for ratification and payment. If we will die here,
so be it.”
He also said, “In 2008, they paid only 5years and since then, we have not
receive a dime. Suddenly when this administration came, the minister of
Aviation wrote to the President on our behalf and the President approved
that we should be paid. But it is sad that the said fund has been ordered
to be release to us, and even him that went on his own to write the
president suddenly don’t want to talk to us.
“Following this actions of their (the minister of Finance and Aviation), we
don’t know whether to be grateful them or not. And we are asking, is it not
the same government that in the first place announced to the world that the
money is ready. We asked the president not allow our suffering to