Abuja — The federal government has approved N450 billion for the payment of gratuities and other retirement benefits to the former staff of defunct Nigeria Airways.
The government also announced the certification of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
With the development, the Lagos airport became the first airport to be certified in Nigeria by ICAO.
Making these disclosures while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in the Presidential Villa, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said following the approval of N450 billion by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had been instructed to put the machinery in place for payment of the ex-staff of Nigeria Airways.
According to him, the ministry has consequently begun to put modalities in place for the payment of the retirees, regretting that some of them had lost their lives in course of 20 years of waiting for the payment.
On the airport certification, Sirika said for the first time in the history of aviation in Nigeria, the Lagos airport had been certified in accordance with the laid down procedure of ICAO that airport must attain certain standards of operation within the scope of international aviation safety system.
He expressed optimism that before the end of the year, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, would also be certified.
Sirika also disclosed that Nigeria Metrological Agency (NIMET) was also certified by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) for conforming with ISO standard of 2015, disclosing that only NIMET was so certified among all meteorological agencies in Africa.
He added that ICAO had designated Nigeria as the host of an international conference on aviation taking off on November 20, this year, with the theme: "Financing Aviation Infrastructure." He said the conference would be attended by 48 aviation ministers across the globe.
On the rejection of the planned concession of the Lagos and Abuja airports by the staff of the airports, Sirika said they had the right to protest the plan, pointing out that their protest was driven by the fear of job losses which he said would be adequately addressed.
According to him, the concession had become imminent in view of the high cost of running airports which he said the government could not sustain.
In his own briefing, the Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Dr. Chris Nigige said whereas the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) had called off the strikes that they embarked upon, the government was also making concerted efforts to ensure that the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) called off their strikes wednesday.
He also said following collective efforts of government officials, oil workers and the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) and other unions threatening to go on strike had suspended the move.
In his own briefing, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said whereas there has not been any case of polio in the country since 2016, 51 cases of death had been recorded from cholera outbreak in the North, adding there are other 2,719 cases being treated.
He said cholera vaccines were being distributed in affected areas in the North.