MENTowards the end of last month, the news filtered in that the National Assembly has finally approved the N45 billion being final entitlements for the over 4,000 former workers of the defunct Nigeria Airways.
The good news was made possible through the though belated decision of the lawmakers to finally harken to the 14 years of cry of the former workers on the need to pay them their final entitlements after the unwise liquidation of the former carrier.
When the news broke last month that the National Assembly had signed the approval for payment of the money, hope was high that the former workers will soon smile.
While the intrigues that greeted the non payment of the workers for years and the latest legislative approval to pay is no more news, what is news is the fact that almost one month after, nothing concrete has come from the ministry of finance, that is responsible for the release of the money. In other words, the waiting game continues for the former workers.
According to information gathered, the non payment of the entitlement has been attributed to the decision of the ministry of finance to get another approval from the presidency on how to source for the fund to be used in paying them off.
While all the intrigues about where to get funds unfold, efforts are ongoing by the government to float a new national airline, Nigeria Air for the country.
That the former workers are yet to be paid off their entitlements 14 years after the liquidation of the defunct national carrier even when their colleagues in Europe and America who worked at the same time for the same airline were paid off 14 years ago without any intrigue, has gone to portray Nigeria as a country that only show respect for the labour laws of other countries at the expense of its own.
Among many questions calling for answers include: what is responsible for the undue delay; why it is so difficult to pay off this set of people who used their youthful days to toil for the national carrier;baht is it so tough to bring out N45 billion from a country where looting has almost become a norm; who are those responsible for the intrigues surrounding the payment of the defunct airline workers and why are government officials always like to play god when issues involving ordinary citizens are affected.
While these questions and many more call for answers, the obvious thing here is that this attitude on the part of government is largely responsible for corrupt practices in the various government agencies
Obviously, if a worker in any of the agencies realizes that he or she may not get her due entitlements for years after retiring or getting sacked, he or she may be tempted to engage in self help or other illegalities for survival out of fear of uncertainty over how he or she may be treated by the government when no more in service.
It is very sad that here in Nigeria government workers having worked to serve their fatherland for years will still have to be subjected to psychological torture before they get paid even when they are sacked by the same government.
The continuous delay in the final benefits may perhaps be a deliberate attempt or gang up in the system to punish the former workers for their unsubstantiated blame of being responsible for the collapse of the former airline even when it was obvious that government’s unnecessary interference in it was greatly responsible for its ruins.
Even when the Justice Obiorah Nwazota panel set up to probe the failure of the airline identified those responsible for killing the airline and recommended that they be made to return the illegal money they got from the airline, rather than enforce this, the same government shielded them and described them as ‘role models’.
Up till this moment this group of questionable people are working free with some even very close to the subsequent governments.Therefore,on what basis are the former workers being denied their sweat.
All this injustice has only become part of the policy summersault of the subsequent governments who take decisions without any regard to due process and rule guiding labour laws.
Those behind the ongoing denial to pay off the former national airline workers should realize that as they are in government today, they will not be there forever and it is what they do now that will be recorded against their names.