Don’t grant Nigeria Air operating licence, ex-workers tell NCAA


Abiola Seun

Former workers of liquidated Nigeria Airways and the children of deceased workers have petitioned the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), to stop the process of granting an operating licence to Nigeria Air until the balance of their outstanding payment is made.

The group, who spoke to journalists at the weekend, said they are relying on notice put up by the airline announcing its application to the NCAA for a licence to operate scheduled and non-scheduled passenger and cargo services.

The notice stated that any person or organisation with objection should make it known before 28 days’ expiration.

The notice read in part, “This is to inform the general public that Messrs Nigeria Air Limited has applied to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for the grant of an Air Transport License (ATL) to operate scheduled and non-scheduled passenger and cargo services within and outside Nigeria,” the notice reads.

“Any person or organisation that has an objection or representation with regards to this application should do so within 28 days from the date of this application.

“Such objection or representation should be forwarded to the Director-General Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Domestic Wing, Abuja.”

The leader of the aggrieved group, who simply gave his name as Adeyemi to avoid victimisation, said they have lost interest in the leadership of the ex-workers’ unions to protect their interest and to mount pressure on the Federal Government to pay them the last tranche of severance benefits.

They equally demanded that some of the ex-workers who are still alive be included in the Nigerian pension scheme.

According to them, “There is a notice published in the media that anyone who has a complaint on why the proposed Nigeria Air should not be issued a licence should come forward with their complaints within 28 days.

“We are not against the setting up of Nigeria Air. What we are asking is that they should pay us what is left of what we are owed before a new national carrier comes on board”.

“What concerns us is for government to pay the remaining balance of what they owe us. We would have left this to our unions to do but they do not give updates on what is happening”, they added.

The group disclosed that the Federal Government paid N45 billion to former workers of the carrier,remaining a balance of N33 billion which had been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

They further alleged that their union leaders, under the Aviation Unions Ground Alliance (AUGA),are no longer motivated to pursue their cause.

“We are suffering in silence. We heard that Nigeria Air is coming and we got a published notice that anybody who has an objection to why the carrier should not be granted a licence should bring it forward. We have written a letter. We should be sending the letter to NCAA any moment from now”.

The ex-workers recalled that the total severance package for workers of the airline was supposed to be N78 billion but the Federal Government said there would be able to pay N45 billion, stressing that the balance of N33 billion is yet to be paid.

“We are demanding that workers of the liquidated airline that are still alive should be put under a pension scheme.

“The liquidation of Nigeria Airways was at the instance of the government. We believe that the leadership of our unions has been compromised. There are things that we see that show compromise”.

“People in Diaspora have resigned to fate. More than 80% of ex-workers of Nigeria Airways have had broken marriages. Many have been left to their fate with many life-threatening ailments.”

The struggles for the payment of the former Airways workers commenced after its liquidation during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

While the former workers of the defunct national carrier in Europe and America were almost immediately paid off by the Obasanjo government for fear of running foul of the labour laws of the foreign countries, the former workers in Nigeria and Africa particularly had received their money piecemeal.

Since the struggle started, over two thousand of the former workers had suffered to death with many others left in a miserable situation.

A respite, however, came their way when President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika finalized payment for the workers.

President Buhari towards the end of 2017 ordered the release of the N45 billion for their entitlement, remaining a balance of N33 billion

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