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Pensioners under the auspices of Airspace Management Pensioners Association of Nigeria (AMPAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) engaged in war of words over allegation of diversion of about N1.5 billion pension fund levelled against the agency by the pensioners.

The pensioners alleged that the diverted fund was due to gradual “illegal” withdrawal by NAMA since 2003. But the NAMA has denied the allegation and had insisted that it responded to all the requests made by the pensioners’ association.

The chairman of AMPAN, which is an affiliate of the Federal Parastatals and Private Sector Pensioners Association of Nigeria (FEPPAN), Mr. Kester Omotayo told journalists in Lagos yesterday that the diversion of the funds, which have been variously confirmed was an indication that pensioners were being shortchanged by the agency.

According to him, the underpayment of the pensioners had lingered for over 10 years and attributed the act to either due to ignorance, inefficiency or corruption in the system. Omotayo explained that the underpayment of the pensioners started with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) returnee pensioners to NAMA in 2005, stressing that the pension increase effective from 2003 was unimplemented by the agency.

He explained that the Human Resources Department of NAMA had been duly notified of the issue, adding that it declined to address the imbalance in the system.

He alleged that the department took offence and decided to delay actions on its several submissions on the issue since 2017. Omotayo also accused the agency of operating two pension structures, to deliberately cover up or attempt to cover some sharp practices in the pension division of the Human Resources Department, stressing that the association had made requests to look into the books of NAMA as it concerns pension but it was allegedly snubbed.

“The pension indebtedness has accumulated to over N1 billion. We have submitted a foolproof tabulated analysis to NAMA management for well over a year, but, as usual, there was no positive action taken. Our request for dialogue on the issue has also been rebuffed.

“It is not unlikely that NAMA operates on two pension structures, may be to deliberately cover or attempt to cover some sharp practices in the pension division of the Human Resources Department. This we suspect when in 2017, we requested them for the structure with which our pensions were being paid,” Omotayo said.

Another retiree of NAMA and former Secretary General of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) Olayinka Abioye, confirmed the Chairman of AMPAM’s Allegation.

According to Abioye, investigation carried out by the pensioners indicated that they are being short paid by the management to the tune N1.5 billion since 2003.

In responding to the allegation, NAMA in a statement signed by the Chief Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Steve Onabe said, “The attention of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has been drawn to unsubstantiated claims by some officials of Airspace Management Pensioners Association of Nigeria (AMPAN) to the effect that the agency has been shortchanging its members in their monthly pension payment.

“The agency makes bold to say that the above allegations are completely spurious and borne out of either malice, ignorance or both. We make bold therefore to say that the agency runs on a transparent platform with zero tolerance for corruption, even as it is poised to protect and promote the interests of its senior citizens at all times.”

Source: Thisday

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