By Uche mbah
The war of words between the former staff of the defunct Nigeria Airways and the Finance minister Kemi Adeosun may have sent distressing signals to the general public that the much touted New National Carrier may not take off despite assurances and plans for the later.
The Finance Minister had said that there has been no presidential approval for the release of funds for the settlements of arrears of pension and other emoluments, which she put at a total cost of N45billion. But in a swift reaction, the ex workers faulted the minister, saying that the approval had come during the Federal Executive Council meeting of September 20, 2017. Stories had been awash in the news that the workers terminal benefits are ready. But in a tweet, the Minister had insisted that there had been no approval by the presidency for the payment.
” There has been a misconception in the media that the president had approved the payment of N45billion terminal benefits to the ex-workers of Nigeria Airways. I should make it clear that there is no presidential approval and no appropriation yet for the payment”, Adeosun tweeted. “The terminal benefits of ex-Nigeria Airways workers are also part of the outstanding inherited debts. These benefits have been reconciled and agreed at N45billion, following verification. But we don’t have presidential approval yet for the payment. It also has to be appropriated,” she concluded.
But there are indications that the Minister had been at best economical with the truth, as sources from the ministry indicated that the approval has been given. “She even wrote the Minister of state for aviation to intimate him of the approval”, the source said.
This, according to the source, was to settle all hiccups that is being experienced by the Aviation industry before concluding with arrangements for the new National Carrier. It was noted that preliminary arrangements have been done to purchase an initial four aircrafts on wet lease from the United States as the nucleus of the new Carrier. Part of the Government promise was that the Presidential fleet will be seconded to the carrier as starting point but that seems unlikely and, with the Minister dancing one corner with approvals, it may be a big hiccup to the new carrier.