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From Despair to Hope: Nigeria Airways Ex-Workers Pin Hopes on President Tinubu’s Intervention

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NAL ex-workers during verification exercise in 2018

…as Former MD lists those, factors responsible for the Airline’s downfall

In an emotional appeal addressed to President Bola Tinubu, the ex-workers of Nigeria Airways Limited, grappling with the agony of awaiting their outstanding N33 billion naira, poured their hearts out in a poignant letter.

With trembling hands and tear-stained words, they beseeched the President to heed their cry for help, hoping against hope that their plea would reach him in robust health.

Their anguish was palpable as they referenced a recent emergency meeting where President Tinubu urged state governors to prioritize clearing salary arrears, gratuities, and pensions, stressing the imperative of injecting funds into the hands of the people amidst the country’s economic woes.

The letter signed by the Hungry, Sick, Dying Ex-Workers of Defunct Nigeria Airways, with bated breath, implored President Tinubu to lead by example at the federal level by swiftly approving and releasing the long-overdue severance payments or by enrolling them on the Pension Pay Roll.

Recalling their plight since the liquidation of Nigeria Airways in 2003, they recounted a harrowing journey marked by denied payments, fleeting bite of relief under past administrations, and the excruciating toll of untold suffering heightened by the current economic crisis.

Their ranks depleted by the passage of time, with many succumbing to illness, hunger, and homelessness, the surviving ex-workers laid bare their desperation, clinging to the fragile hope that President Tinubu’s intervention could stem the tide of their misfortune.

With their fate hanging in the balance, they pleaded for clemency, urging President Tinubu to heed their call for mercy and dry their tears with the decisive action they so desperately yearned for.

As the nation watches with bated breath, the eyes of the downtrodden ex-workers of Nigeria Airways remain fixed on President Tinubu, praying fervently for a glimmer of hope amidst the darkness of their despair.

Former Managing Director of Nigeria Airways Limited, Captain Jonathan Baba Ibrahim, shed light on the demise of the airline, attributing its downfall to a combination of factors. 

Established in the sixties and seventies as a national carrier, he said, Nigeria Airways aimed to serve all states, with the government purchasing brand new aircraft. 

However, challenges arose over time, including the devaluation of the naira and what Captain Ibrahim refers to as the “Nigeria factor.”

Capt Ibrahim stated that, this decline saw the airline’s fleet dwindle from 32 aircraft in 1991 to just three. 

The Former NAL MD, highlighted a critical decision made by a past regime to dispose of smaller aircraft in favor of larger jets, a move he believes lacked foresight. 

Additionally, frequent changes in leadership, often driven by political interests rather than industry expertise, further destabilized the airline. 

He emphasized the importance of having professionals at the helm, citing past leaders such as Captain Tarha and Alhaji Bature as examples of competent management. 

However, the influx of inexperienced individuals, both from the military and abroad, coupled with corruption within the industry, contributed to Nigeria Airways’ downfall. 

Captain Ibrahim underscored the specialized nature of aviation and the need for qualified personnel to sustain operations, lamenting the consequences of entrusting the airline to those lacking requisite knowledge and experience.

Nigeria’s Airways Aircraft

OPEN LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY, ASHIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU, GCFR, PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA BY THE EX-WORKERS OF LIQUIDATED NIGERIA AIRWAYS LIMITED REGARDING THE OUTSTANDING 33 BILLION NAIRA.

Your Excellency,

We hope our tearful letter meets you in good health.  

We read the resolution reached at the end of Your Excellency’s emergency meeting with governors on the biting economic situation in the country.  

Item five (5) of the resolutions caught our attention and gave us the confidence to cry to you with this letter.

In the said item five (5) of the resolutions, Your Excellency’s appeal to the state governors was presented in these words: ‘The President pleaded with the Governors to ensure all salary arrears to workers and gratuities to retired workers and pensioners are cleared as a way to put money into the hands of the people since states are now getting more monthly FAAC revenue.  Spend the money, don’t spend the people.’

That, Your Excellency, is a warm, fatherly appeal, which we are highly certain, the governors would most likely comply with.

However, Your Excellency, we most humbly appeal that you set an example (at the federal level) of your appeal to the governors by approving/releasing the final 33 Billion Naira severance payment instalment to us ex-workers of Nigeria Airways OR Put us on the Pension Pay Roll. 

This is because we are your own (Federal) responsibility since we worked for Nigeria Airways, a federal parastatal, that was liquidated in 2003.

After the liquidation in 2003, our severance payments were outrightly denied us by the PDP government of the day, only subsequent PDP government to commenced the payment with a tiny instalment in 2008.  

Some succour came to us with the APC administration of your immediate predecessor President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR who paid us two more (larger) instalments between 2018 and 2022.

Needless to say we have suffered untold hardships since the liquidation as we awaited the full severance payments. 

Over the years, many among us have died.  Many are lying critically ill.  Many are critically hungry and/or homeless.  

And these situations have now been worsened by the current economic hardship.

Your Excellency, if the states are now actually getting more monthly revenue from FAAC, then we are confident that if only you want to, you can easily rescue us from the tide of untold sufferings that our people have been facing since 2003. 

Your Excellency, we know that it only requires your approval/release warrant now because our representatives (AUGA) have reliably informed us that every other processing step has been taken and that the final step is now pending in your office.

We tearfully appeal, Your Excellency, that you please come to our express aid: approve/release the 33 Billion Naira to be paid to us, OR put us on the Pension Pay Roll without delay and dry our tears. 

We thank you most sincerely.

Signed:

Hungry/sick/dying ex-workers of defunct Nigeria Airways.

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