Two More Ex-Nigeria Airways Staff Die As Death Toll Rises To Nine In Three Weeks

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At least, two ex-Nigeria Airways workers have again died in the past one week. The death of the two brought to nine the number of those that have died since October 11, 2017.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari had on September 20, 2017, announced the approval of N45bn as final severance packages for the ex-workers, but since the announcement was made, the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Auditing (PICA), a department under the Ministry of Finance is yet to make any preparation towards the payment of the sum to the over 6,000 beneficiaries.

 

A source close to the airline, gave the names of the deceased as one Mr. Aba and Dr. Akah. Aba, it was learnt, died on Monday in Lagos while Dr. Akah died on Thursday.

 

Before the unceremonious closure of the airline, Aba was in the security department while Akah served as an instructor in the training school of the former national carrier.

 

It is suspected that the nine deaths recorded within the spate of three weeks may not be unconnected with the failure of PICA to disburse the gratuities to the beneficiaries early as anticipation by most of them, saying that the approved sum ought to have been disbursed to the workers within two weeks.

 

According to gathered information, most of the ex-workers died in recent times because of their inability to raise resources for their medical care. Since the airline was liquidated in 2004, no fewer than 800 of the expected beneficiaries had died of different ailments while hundreds other are bedridden.

 

A source said: “It is so sad that some people sit somewhere and intentionally deprive workers who served the country meritoriously their rights and put the money in the bank to yield interests for them while the beneficiaries are dying in droves.

 

“The high rate of deaths recorded in the past three weeks was triggered by the high anticipation of some of us to finally get our benefits from the government, but, unfortunately, it is unnecessarily delayed again by PICA. This alone can kill half of the workers if care is not taken. We can only appeal to President Buhari to give an ultimatum to PICA to commencement the disbursement of the money to us.”

 

It would be recalled that immediately after the liquidation of the carrier in 2004, the Federal Government had paid 25 years severance benefits to foreign workers of the airline in accordance with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) while their Nigerian counterparts only received five years benefits.

 

Speaking on the dilemma of the former workers, Mr. Segun Feyisetan, the Vice Chairman, National Union of Pensioners (NUP), Nigeria Airways Branch, said that the remaining workers would continue to fight for their rights until the money was disbursed to them.

 

He said: “We are here to fight for our severance benefits. They paid us last in 2008 and the Federal Government has approved N45bn for us since September 20, 2017 for payment. Since then, we have been waiting for PICA.

 

“We are begging Buhari, Mr. Hadi Sirika, Minister of State for Aviation and Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance to look into our case. We have lost five pilots this week (Last week). Dr. Akah died just yesterday. We are appealing to them so that we don’t record more avoidable deaths.”

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