There were anger and apprehension amongst the ex-workers of the defunct Nigeria Airways when the news filtered out that the federal government had finally released N35 billion to settle long-standing salary arrears of staff in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
The workers of the former national carrier who spoke to some journalists at separate fora accused the government of double standard in the handling of their final benefits fourteen years after the liquidation of Nigeria Airways.
As at the time of filing this report some of the former Airways workers were already re-strategizing on how to react to what they termed the unjust gift of the New Year coming from the government.
The workers who had at the weekend appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the officials at the ministry of finance and the National Assembly to release the approved N45 billion being their entitlements, have expressed shock over the bureaucracy being played out by the ministry of finance officials and the National Assembly.
Presently, it is uncertain the whereabouts of the file containing the approval for the payment as it is generally believed that their file waiting for ratification from the lawmakers is trapped between the ministry of finance and the National Assembly.
The approval for the release and payment of the fund which was approved by the Presidency last year May is yet to see the light of the day.
While over 838 of the workers had died without receiving their pay, between December 2017 and this month (January), over 25 have just died still without being paid.
With the news of the release of N35 billion to settle the salary arrears of their counterparts who jurisdiction fell under the MDAs yesterday, the former Nigeria Airways workers have renewed their bid to frustrate any attempt by the government to float a new national carrier in place of the defunct Nigeria Airways.
The workers who vowed to use their last drop of blood to fight for their rights have expressed sadness over the unjust manner they are being treated by the same government.
It will be recalled that the former workers of the defunct national carrier across Europe, Asia and America were paid off for 25 years entitlements almost immediately after the liquidation in 2004 while those in Nigeria, West Africa and Anglophone speaking African countries are yet to be paid.
Initially, the inter-ministerial committee set up by the government has met with representatives of the workers recommended N78 billion as benefits for the workers the amount which was mysteriously slashed down to N45 billion by the ministry of finance officials.
The Federal Government yesterday finally released N35 billion to settle long-standing salary arrears of staff in ministries, departments and agencies.
According to the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Ahmed Idris, the release of the money was in fulfilment of its promise to settle the backlog of promotion arrears owed to Federal Civil Servants across the Federation covering years 2011 – 2016.
Of the amount, over N30 billion would be devoted to verified MDAS.
Idris said that the payment has helped the workers meet some of the most pressing needs, adding that Federal Government was committed to fulfilling its promises and commitments to the workers.