Ex-Nigeria Airways Workers Petition Buhari Over N78b Severance Pay
**Decry tussle between Sirika, Dikwah
**700 ex-workers dead
Worried by alleged face-off between the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika and Chairman, Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), Dikwa, over the disbursement of N78 billion severance benefits, former workers of Nigeria Airways based in Accra, Ghana, Lome, Togo, Yaounde, Cameroon, Benin and Gabon, have petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari over their plight.
The workers, Emetule Fina (Gabon); Eno Mao (Gabon); Ndoke Hannah (Cameroon); Bareng John (Cameroon); Afandomi Raymond (Benin); and Mensah Teteh (Togo) in a petition to President Buhari, commended him (President) for approving the payment of final entitlements of the ex-workers.
They, however, flayed the power tussle between Sirika and Dikwah, as the major cause for the delay, alleging that no agreement had been reached on who and what to pay.
They equally alleged that while the chairman of PICA is bent on reducing the N78 billion approved to N43 billion with N2 billion interest as the paying body, the Minister of State for Aviation insists on the payment of the full N78 billion with one percent to the paying body, describing what is playing out as greed in interest is the reason for the delay to pay the suffering staff.
They stated that it is against this backdrop that they are appealing for Buhari’s quick intervention to find a solution in what they described as power struggle for the Minister of Finance to release the funds in Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since two years to the workers.
According to them, “We the west coast staff of the defunct Nigeria Airways Limited; from Libreville (Gabon); Douala (Cameroon) Cotonou (Benin); and Lome (Togo), wish to thank God for your healing and bringing you back to Nigeria to continue the good work you have for Nigeria, which other African countries may have to copy.
“We wish to thank you for approving the payment of final entitlements of the ex-staff of the defunct airline. What a great joy it was for a long awaited exercise.
“Your Excellency, sadness is already beclouding our joy, due to the prolonged delay to execute the payments.”
President, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Muhammed Safianu said recently that the union would officially write Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to intervene in the matter; and ensure that the final several packages of N78 billion was paid to the workers.
He confirmed that an inter-ministerial committee set up by the government to come out with the actual amount of money to be paid the workers, had come up with the N78 billion to over 6,000 employees of the liquidated carrier.
The committee, he added, also recommended one percent administrative charges, totalling N735 million to any government agency that would disburse the funds to the ex-workers.
According to him, PICA, in its recommendation to the government, reduced the sum to N43 billion, but increased the administrative charges to N2.1 billion without any recourse to percentage as recommended by the inter-ministerial committee.
He said: “The final severance packages to the former workers was N78 billion; and the inter-ministerial committee set up for that purpose recommended one percent administrative charges to any government agency that would carry out the disbursement.
“But, all of a sudden, PICA showed interest in the payment and reduced the sum to N43 billion. It, however, increased its administrative charge to N2.1 billion. What we want to do right now is to involve NLC. We want them to intervene in the whole matter so that people can get what they rightly deserved. In a matter of days, we will send our documents on the issue to NLC.”
However, a source close to the Ministry of Transport has claimed that the power tussle between the Minister of State for Aviation, Sirika and the Chairman of PICA, Mr Mohammed Kyari Dikwah, may be responsible for the delay in payment of the final severance packages to the former national carrier workers.
According to the source, Sirika, in a meeting with the former workers of the defunct national carrier earlier in the year, had promised that the beneficiaries would get their severance packages by last March, but regretted that the misunderstanding between the duo, is causing untold hardships on the workers, who had lost at least 700 of their members since 2003, when the carrier was liquidated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The source alleged that the non-payment is stalling the commencement of a new national carrier for the country as promised by the government in 2015.
Currency in Circulation in Nigeria Drops to N982.09bn in February
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has revealed that the currency in circulation further dropped to N982.09 billion in February 2022.
This can be attributed to the Naira redesign policy of the apex bank, which was announced last October when total circulation was put at N3.29 trillion.
These figures revealed that N2.3 trillion or 235 per cent of the cash was mopped up from circulation during the period under review.
According to the CBN, the currency in circulation had moved from N3.16 trillion in November 2022 to N3.29 trillion in December 2022 but dropped heavily to N1.38 trillion in January 2023 and further to N982.09 billion in February 2023.
Last year, the central bank, as part of efforts to drive digital payment acceptance and cut down the currency outside the banking system, announced plans to roll out redesigned Naira notes of N200, N500, and N1,000 and phase out of the old Naira notes.
The Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said statistics showed that over 80 per cent of currency-in-circulation was outside the vaults of commercial banks.
He highlighted the need to reduce the significant amount of cash outside the banking system to ensure monetary policy effectiveness, curtail criminal activities, and ensure financial inclusion.
However, many complained about the 90-day window from the announcement to the execution of the policy.
What ensued for many was the unavailability of the new notes, with citizens unable to get cash which hindered their day-day activities. Many opted for digital transactions, which put a strain on a nascent infrastructure, with payment taking longer than expected with many services experiencing downtime.
Although the opportunities opened to the likes of OPay, PalmPay, and MoniePoint to tap into Nigeria’s micro-retail sector, on some days, it was a hassle for these channels to work, leading to increased failure and frustrations in online transactions.
The hardship spurred Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara to sue the federal government over the naira redesign policy and joined on February 15 by Cross River, Sokoto, Lagos, Ogun, Katsina, Ondo and Ekiti states. Later, Nasarawa, Niger, Kano, Jigawa, Rivers and Abia states joined the suit.
Rivers and Abia states had filed separate suits that were consolidated with the main one.
However, Edo and Bayelsa had joined the side of the federal government in opposing the suit.
Succour came on March 3 when the Supreme Court extended the validity of the notes to December and faulted the ill-timed naira redesign policy.
It wasn’t until 10 days (March 13) after the ruling that the CBN, in a circular signed by Mr Isa AbdulMumin, the CBN’s acting director of corporate communications, directed all deposit money banks to comply with the Supreme Court ruling, further instructing all concerned parties to conform accordingly.
A day before that, President Buhari had distanced himself from the CBN governor and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF)’s inability to obey the Supreme Court’s ruling.
He said that “at no time did he instruct the Attorney General and the CBN Governor to disobey any court orders involving the government and other parties.”
Analysts expect that as the CBN begin to recirculate the old notes till December, it will gradually ease the hardships of Nigerians and ensure economic activities return to normal in the country.
NASD Exchange Drops 0.05% Amid Losses in Three Stocks
By Adedapo Adesanya
The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange returned to the bearish zone on Monday, March 20 as it depreciated by 0.05 per cent, driven by the negative price movements in three companies.
The price losers were led by Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc, which depreciated by 15 Kobo to close at N14.05 per share versus N14.20 per share, First Trust Microfinance Bank Plc lost 5 Kobo to trade at 47 Kobo per unit compared with the previous session’s 52 Kobo per unit, while Industrial and General Insurance (IGI) Plc fell by 1 Kobo to quote at 8 Kobo per unit compared with last Friday’s 9 Kobo per unit.
The trio weakened the impact of the 14 Kobo price appreciation achieved by Geo-Fluids Plc, which closed at N1.50 per share, in contrast to the preceding session’s N1.36 per share.
At the close of business, the market capitalisation of the NASD exchange shrank by N460 million to close the day at N960.66 billion versus the N961.12 billion it ended in the previous trading session.
Similarly, the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) went down by 0.35 points to finish at 731.09 points compared with 731.44 points in the previous session.
During the session, there was a surge of 7,753.9 per cent in the volume of securities traded at the bourse as investors exchanged 58.1 million units of securities compared with the previous trading day’s 739,755 units of securities.
Likewise, the value of shares traded at the session ballooned by 64.2 per cent to N50.3 million from the N30.6 million posted last Friday, while the number of deals increased by 20 per cent to 12 deals from the 10 deals executed in the preceding session.
At the close of trades, Geo-Fluids Plc remained the most traded stock by volume (year-to-date) with the sale of 455.3 million units valued at N493.6 million, followed by UBN Property Plc with 365.8 units worth N309.5 million, and IGI Plc with 25.1 million units worth N1.9 million.
The most active stock by value (year-to-date) was VFD Group Plc for exchanging 7.3 million units worth N1.7 billion, Geo-Fluids Plc was in second place with 455.3 million units valued at N493.6 million, while UBN Property Plc was in third place with 365.8 million units valued at N309.5 million.
Naira Trades N740/$1 at Black Market, N461.50/$1 at I&E
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Naira opened the week stronger against the US Dollar in the black market, the Peer-2-Peer (P2P), and the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segments of the foreign exchange (forex) market on Monday, March 20.
In the parallel market window, the Nigerian Naira gained N7 against the greenback to quote at N740/$1 compared with last Friday’s exchange rate of N747/$1.
In the P2P segment, the value of the local currency appreciated by N6 against the American currency to sell for N748/$1, in contrast to the preceding session’s N754/$1.
Similarly, the domestic currency improved against the US Dollar in the official market window by 33 Kobo or 0.07 per cent to trade at N461.50/$1 compared with N461.83/$1.
The local currency was strengthened in the spot market yesterday amid an FX demand pressure, which pushed the turnover for the day higher by 43.1 per cent or $37.85 million to $125.66 million from $87.81 million.
However, in the interbank segment of the market, the Naira lost N2.70 against the Pound Sterling to quote at N559.15/£1, in contrast to the previous session’s N556.45/£1 and against the Euro, it depreciated by N2.12 to close at N490.11/€1 versus last Friday’s N487.99/€1.
Meanwhile, the cryptocurrency market turned red on Monday as the Federal Reserve and other major central banks made coordinated moves to enhance market liquidity.
Litecoin (LTC) went southwards by 3.9 per cent to trade at $78.91, Dogecoin (DOGE) fell by 2.8 per cent to $0.0718, Ethereum (ETH) declined by 1.0 per cent to $1,743.47, Cardano (ADA) dipped by 0.7 per cent to $0.3382, and Binance Coin (BNB) lost 0.3 per cent to sell for $334.40.
However, Bitcoin (BTC) gained 1.2 per cent to quote $27,849.66 as markets responded to the deepening global banking crisis, amid the decision of UBS to buy Credit Suisse, a move engineered by Swiss authorities.
Also, Ripple (XRP) rose by 0.07 per cent to trade at $0.3836, Solana (SOL) grew by 0.06 per cent to sell at $22.43, as the US Dollar Tether (USDT) and Binance USD (BUSD) traded flat at $1.00 each.
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