By G9ija

If the 1130 verified former workers of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc, 222 have been paid their severance benefits, the Executive Secretary (ES), the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), Dr Chioma Ejikeme, has said.

Ejikeme said the former workers were paid N141.38 million in four batches, between June 19 and July 28.

She said the computation and payment of the benefits would resume as soon as the adjustments were completed and tested.

She stated that a total of 1,130 former workers were cleared during the national verification for Parastatals Pension Department (PaPD) pensioners, which was concluded last November.

She added that following the review of the verification database of former workers before the exercise, they were able to break down the verified numbers.

According to her, out of the 1,130 ex-workers, 786 are qualified, 103 are not qualified, 162 names were duplicated while 79 files were flagged for further investigation.

She noted that considering the 786 former workers that were classified as qualified, and  of 222 ex-workers paid, there remained 564 former workers files to be reviewed and computed.

Since the severance entitlements payable is a function of the respective ex-workers career records and date or details of promotion, she pointed out that it is not possible, at this stage, to determine the amount outstanding to be paid until each of these ex-workers files are completely computed.

She stated that PTAD does not have any approved amount for the former workers of NAHCO neither has it received any fund for the payment of their severance benefits.

She maintained that the pay-ments made so far to this category of former workers had been funded from the Directorate’s savings from pension releases for the payment of monthly pension to pensioners.

Explaining how the Directorate computes beneficiaries’payouts, she said their computation model is based on entitlements defined in the NAHCO’s Staff Conditions of Service Handbook.

She said: “In addition, we have added some terminal benefits mentioned in Public Service Rules (PSR), 2008 Edition, which have not been stated/defined in the NAHCO Staff Conditions of Service Handbook. In view of this, the entitlements computed for each NAHCO’s ex-staff or the next of kin (NOK) as applicable comprises Long Service Gratuity subject to achieving a minimum of 10 years in service; leave allowance subject to achieving at least six months in service; one month salary in lieu of notice; disengagement allowance; and repatriation allowance.

“Every beneficiary that subscribes to SMS alert with his or her bankers will receive SMS notification of payment into his or her account. However, to get clarity about the details of the computation and parameters adopted towards determining the amount paid, the Directorate is working on getting the email address of each beneficiary, so as to send a scanned copy of the computation print out for their record.”

She further said the Directorate, as part of its due diligence protocol for on-boarding of new or existing pensioners, liaises with relevant agencies to collate relevant data, such as nominal roll, salary structure, conditions of service, details of previous payments etc. on the affected former workers.

“In this instance, the Directorate had, through its collaboration with Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), that was responsible for the privatisation exercise and NAHCO Aviance, gathered very useful information about the former workers of NAHCO, including a list of 936 former workers that were paid some amounts classified as gratuity benefit by BPE/NAHCO and computed based on an effective date of August 2005.

“Considering that some amounts related to terminal benefits have been paid to the ex-workers by NAHCO/BPE, the amount paid by the Directorate is the net amount determined after deducting this earlier payment. Whatever is payable as outstanding net amount to NAHCO ex-staff is, therefore, a function of the amount earlier paid to them. In view of this, the Directorate does not make any deduction from the amount computed and determined as the outstanding net benefits due to each ex-worker of NAHCO.

“Similarly, the computation of the severance benefits of the ex-workers is based on their career records covering the date of first appointment, and not date of conversion, date or details of last promotion and date of disengagement. The severance payments being made to ex-workers of NAHCO has been determined based on the provisions in the NAHCO conditions of service that was in force at the time of their disengagement, and related provisions of the Public Service Rule. The entitlements cover gratuity based on qualifying criteria in addition to domestic allowance for managers; repatriation allowance; disengagement allowance; one month in lieu of notice; and annual leave allowance.”

The PTAD boss also said the severance benefits being computed and paid to former NAHCO workers is a one-off final payment.