Published January 6, 2021
Sunday Aborisade, Adelani Adepegba and Matthew Ochei
The Federal Government, on Tuesday , inaugurated the Special Public Works Programme meant for the employment of 774, 000 itinerant workers nationwide for three months .
The government said the initiative, through which the beneficiaries will be paid N 20 ,000 each , was conceived to shield vulnerable Nigerians from poverty , hunger and joblessness .
Speaking at the ceremony , which held at the old Parade Ground, Abuja, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment , Festus Keyamo , SAN , explained that the initiative was meant to protect the most vulnerable Nigerians from the economic impact of the COVID -19 pandemic.
He noted that the applicants would execute carefully selected projects, including repair and rehabilitation of public infrastructure in their areas , adding that the workers were not engaged to only clean drainages .
According to him, each of the participating 774 local government areas has identified its preferred projects and will be responsible for ensuring that they are executed as planned .
The minister said the pilot programme was implemented in eight states to gauge its impact on addressing the rising population of unemployed Nigerians , adding that the strategy was adopted to fast -track the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017 -2020 .
Keyamo stated, “ Under the National Economic Sustainability Plan , the Ministry of Labour and Employment decided to adopt a proactive approach by engaging the nation ’ s youths in some important sectors of the economy. This strategy is intended to facilitate the creation of productive and inclusive societies in our nation .
“ It is also aimed at shielding the most vulnerable from the ravaging effects of COVID – 19 pandemic, which include but are not limited to pervasive hunger , poverty , environmental degradation and joblessness . ”
In his address, the acting Director -General, National Directorate of Employment , Mallam Abubakar Fikpo, said the local communities would receive a facelift through the programme , adding that the participants would be involved in drainage clearing and maintenance , vegetation control , irrigation and orchard maintenance.
Meanwhile, the Delta State Governor , Ifeanyi Okowa , has advised beneficiaries of the 774 , 000 of the SPW to see the opportunity as their own way of little beginning that will lead to positive testimonies in the near future.
Addressing the beneficiaries, Okowa , who was represented by the state Commissioner for Information , Charles Aniagwu, during the inauguration of the scheme in Asaba on Tuesday , expressed delight with it , saying the programme was in line with his administration ’s policy on job creation .
In Oyo State, Governor Seyi Makinde said the programme was a step in the right direction to address the unemployment challenge and to mitigate the effects of the COVID -19 pandemic in the country .
The governor maintained that the programme would complement the efforts of the state government to tackle unemployment in the state.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor , Mr Taiwo Adisa, indicated that Makinde , who was represented by his deputy , Rauf Olaniyan , inaugurated the programme on the premises of the Akinyele Local Government Secretariat, Moniya , Ibadan .
However, the Senate may debate the programme when it resumes plenary on January 26 .
The spokesperson for the upper chamber, Senator Ajibola Basiru , dropped the hint in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday .
The National Assembly had last year approved N 52 bn for the NDE to implement the programme that was supposed to have taken off since last October but for some major challenges .
The red chamber had on December 10 , 2020 asked the President , Major General Muhammadu Buhari ( retd. ) , to rescind his decision to sack the Director -General of the NDE, Dr Ladan Argungu, to enable him to supervise the programme’ s implementation .
Speaking on the development, Basiru said the Senate had yet to take any position on the issue but might likely debate it on January 26 .
“ The Senate will discuss the issue when we resume if there is any need to do so. The Senate hasn’ t taken any position on it yet, ” he stated.
He , however , feigned ignorance on the motion taken by the Senate on the issue .
Basiru said , “ I don’ t know about the motion . I can ’t remember all motions passed by the Senate . I don ’ t have records of all the motions in my brain.
“ If you want me to respond to the question, you will wait till I resume on January 26 , then I will check my records.
“ I cannot remember any motion passed by the Senate on the sacking of the NDE DG . That does not mean that it doesn ’t exist or it exists . ”
The Senate spokesperson nevertheless said the PWP would still be implemented by the NDE despite the sacking of Argungu.