Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the take-off of the Special Public Works Programme of FG which aims at engaging 774,000 unemployed itinerant Nigerians to begin nationwide on Tuesday, January 5th.
The country’s minister of state for labour Festus Keyamo announced the take-off date for the programme on Sunday night on his verified Twitter handle.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the take-off of the Special Public Works Programme (engaging 774,000 unemployed itinerant Nigerians) to begin nationwide on Tuesday, January 5th, 2021,” he tweeted.
“All NDE state structures are already in top gear for the take-off ceremonies.”
The programme which has suffered serial postponements the first being October 1, was said by Keyamo to have been approved by the President owing to floods in some of the project sites.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the request of the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, to reschedule the commencement date of the Special Public Works Programme from the 1st of October to the 1st of November, 2020,” he had said.
“The approval is based principally on the Minister’s Memo to Mr President informing him that most of the proposed project sites are still waterlogged and the rains have not abated, whereas the programme is designed for execution during the dry season.
“It is believed that by the 1st of November most of the project sites would be ready for work.”
But a report has it that the postponement was as a result of the reported disagreement between the minister and the Director-General of NDE, Nasir Ladan, who was relieved of his duty in December.
The proposed recruitment had also caused major friction between members of the national assembly and Keyamo. While federal lawmakers had accused Keyamo of hijacking the programme from the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), the minister alleged the legislators were attempting to hijack the project.
Consequently, the national assembly suspended the programme in the heat of its face-off with the minister, demanding further explanations, but the president overruled the National Assembly, directing Keyamo to go ahead with the execution of the programme.
The programme will ensure 1,000 people from each of the 774 local government areas in the country are employed and will be coordinated by constituted state committees, with the beneficiaries earning N20,000 monthly.
It would be recalled as part of the many knocks of the scheme the earlier rejection by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caucus in the House of Representatives
“While the caucus espouses the eradication of poverty and the creation of gainful and sustainable employment for the burgeoning population of unemployed Nigerians under this administration, it flies in the face of reason and common sense why this government insists on expending enormous resources for the implementation of a politically motivated transient Programme, dubiously shrouded as “employment” having no empowering or enduring benefit to ordinary Nigerians especially when several viable and veritable job and wealth-creating alternatives exist for the application of the funds.”
Rep. Chinda said “Elementary division of the approved Programme budget of N52billion by 774 LGA’S in Nigeria implies expenditure of N67.184million (about $150,000) in each LGA of Nigeria which if applied judiciously and transparently will suffice for the establishment of a Viable Industry in each LGA”
In addition, the PDP caucus of the green chamber of the national assembly raised some salient points resulting in rhetorical questions about the veracity and functionality of the scheme.
“Multiplication of N20,000 by 1000 persons in each of the 774 LGA’S of the country gives a total of N46.44billion as the actual amount to be utilized for the programme in three months leaving a balance of N5.56billion when deducted from the total approved sum of N52billion. Why is there a surplus of N5.56billion and what is this amount intended to be utilized for in three months when the CBN is supposed to make payments directly to the accounts of beneficiaries?
“Are the banks who are supposed to handle registration and collation of data of beneficiaries selected through a transparent process in line with extant laws of Nigeria or were they simply selected because they are cronies of the Minister of State and this administration? Is this administration admitting its inability to fight corruption and indicting its own agencies by inferring that transparency of the process can only be guarantee?