The Federal Government has approved a N45 billion severance package for workers of the liquidated Nigeria Airways, following their protest at the Murtala Muhammed Airport on September 15.
Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on a Wednesday.
The affected workers had Wednesday in Lagos protested the Federal Government’s failure to pay their severance benefits running into N78 billion, Tribune Online said.
Sirika said: “Past governments decided to liquidate Nigeria Airway without tending to the issues of the entitlement of the workers and the workers have been struggling to get paid.
“This government when it came on board decided to take it seriously. And I am happy to announce that Mr President has approved N45 billion which has been confirmed to be the entitlements of this workers and the Ministry of Finance has been instructed to pay.
“And the Ministry of Finance has written to me last week 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 through a process and that process will commence very soon.
“So, I’m very glad to say that this is also what this government has done. It took a long time for the workers of Nigeria Airways to be attended to and we thank them for their patience.
“Unfortunately, we lost many of them many of whom I have known personally. So this will soon be dealt with.”
Sirika as said that there would be no going back on the concessioning of Nigeria airports starting with Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.
This he said was because government could no longer sustain the funding of the 22 airports across the country.
The minister observed that the Murtala Mohammed Airport for instance was originally built to handle 200,000 travellers per annum but today it is handling eight million passengers per annum.
On the protest embarked upon by aviation workers over the comcessioning, he stated: “You will agree with me that this is not news, they have done so in the past.
“We are a democratic government and we recognize that it is their right to protests and what they are protesting is whether there will be job losses and labour issues.
“And we have been very consistent and we have been engaging them. This time, it will be very different.