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SACHOL: BPE explains inability to pay ex-workers’ N1.8b benefits

The Bureau of Public Enterprises has said, all entreaties to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, to ensure the release of the funds for the payment of N1.8 billion severance packages to the ex-staff of the Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited has proved abortive.

The Bureau’s Director for Post Transaction Management, Mr Tajudeen Oduniyi, made this known on Sunday, in Lagos, via a letter with reference number: BPE/PTM/NUATE/11/2022/M10.01.

Oduniyi said that its contribution to the Treasury Single Account stopped it from fulfilling the Memorandum of Understanding reached with the former workers in 2018.

He added that all entreaties to Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, to ensure the release of the funds proved abortive.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the Federal Government in 2015 through its policy had compelled all ministries, departments and agencies to contribute 25 per cent of their revenues to the TSA.

The government had in the middle of this month, gone ahead to increase the contribution to 40 per cent, thereby adding more burdens to the MDAs.

The official said BPE reached an agreement with the former 982 staff of SAHCOL on Nov. 2, 2018, after which it inaugurated a negotiation committee to ensure the implementation of the MoU.

Adding that, the organisation had written to the finance minister for funds to settle the retrenched workers but is still awaiting a reply.

“In light of the foregoing, it has become expedient to update you on our modest efforts to bridge the communication gap from the MOU we signed with you on November 2, 2018.

“This is in addition to our Director-General‘s willingness to offer to pay the redundancy as opposed to the stand of the Chairman of SAHCOL.

“Also recall that at the inception of this administration in 2015, all funds of government agencies and MDAs were swept into the Treasury Single Account (TSA), thus disabling us financially. Given this scenario, our only option was to write to the Minister of Finance for funds to settle you, which we did via our memo on May 19, 2022,” he said.

Oduniyi said it had employed several persons to assist on the issue, noting that a visit was paid to a director with the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation on Friday.

He urged the workers to show understanding until the issue is resolved.

However, there are strong indications that the workers who had been sacked since 2010 by the new owners of SAHCOL (now Skyway Aviation Handling Company PLC, may begin industrial unrest in the sector.

NAN reported that a former worker who pleaded anonymity told newsmen in Lagos that its members have been mobilised through unions to organise a protest in the sector in November.

“We have waited for enough as we were laid off since 2010, so steps have been taken to ensure that we were paid as agreed, but unfortunately, we are yet to be paid.

“The BPE in 2018, after agreeing that we were entitled to several packages, promised to pay us, but four years after this, we are yet to get anything from the bureau.

“They are even asking us to assist them in getting the money out of the Ministry of Finance. How can we do that when we are not the government?” the source said.

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