…says “we can’t totally ignore them”
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, yesterday ate his words when he announced that 10per cent of recruitment slots meant to empower ordinary Nigerians in the rural areas under the Special Public Works (SPW) Programme would be shared to politicians across all the states of the federation to service their political interests.
Keyamo noted that while trying to guard against letting politicians hijack the entire process, political office holders cannot be totally ignored as they are also representatives of the people.
He gave the hint in Abuja during a press conference where he also disclosed his intentions to constitute special committees in each State of the Federation for the purpose of deliberating, selecting and recommending to his office, names of the 1,000 persons to be recruited for the programme.
“We are not unmindful of the fact that political office holders are also representatives of the people. We cannot also totally ignore them in the selection process. We are only trying to guard against some of us hijacking the process solely to service our political interests.
“As a result and because of the need to be honest before Nigerians, the State Selection Committees would be instructed to allot to political office holders like our distinguished Senators, Honourable members, Ministers and Governors, a number in total not exceeding ten percent of the total beneficiaries in that State. This is to ensure that majority of Nigerians who do not belong to any of the political divide actually benefit substantially from this programme.”
Recall, that last month Festus Keyamo while inaugurating an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Extended Special Public Works across the 774 Local Government Areas of the Federation in Abuja had vowed to tender his resignation letter if politicians were hell bent on getting slots from the initiative introduced by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to mitigate lack of job opopportunity in the rural areas for the poor masses.
Keyamo stressed that the programme, a Federal Government job creation drive, was solely designed to mitigate lack of job opportunity in the rural areas through short term engagement of one thousand (1000) unemployed persons per Local Government Areas (LGA) for a period of three (3) months, with a payment of N20,000 monthly allowance to the beneficiaries.
“Personally, I am going resist. Nobody will come and say give me the whole slot for my Local Government because I am a politician, it will not happen. I will leave this job, if you want to insist that it will happen.
“Mr. President is targeting ordinary Nigerians who are neither APC nor PDP or belong to any party who just want to get jobs. The program is for those that just want to feed their families. This is not the time to empower our followers as politicians.
“We have to make it clear today that we are not going to bow down to any pressure of politician to come and hijack this program. It will be well modeled, well executed and it will reach ordinary Nigerians.” Said Keyamo
Speaking further, he said that special committees in each State of the Federation would be constituted for the purpose of deliberating, selecting and recommending names of the 1,000 persons from each of the Local Government Areas in the States to be engaged for this programme, adding that the Committees would also identify the projects to be executed in those Local Government Areas.
Keyamo however, revealed that the Special Public Works (SPW) Programme adopted by the Federal Government to empower its citizens in the rural areas is what helped countries such as India, China and Bangladesh, leapfrog out of the league of poor nations.
Recall, the pilot scheme of the programme was implemented in five LGAs in eight states of Borno, Adamawa, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Jigawa, Katsina and Kwara, with beneficiaries engaged in drainage digging and clearance, irrigation canals clearance, rural feeder road maintenance among others.
“This Programme was one of the main reasons Indian quickly dropped in the poverty index and Nigeria overtook India at a point.
“Consequently and arising from the need and desire of the Federal Government to create massive jobs at the lowest rung of the economy as well as to maintain critical public and social infrastructure at the rural base of the economy, Mr. President has approved that we also adopt and integrate this type of Programme into the Nigerian economy.
“Mr. President has given approval for the extension of the programme aimed at recruiting 1,000 workers in each local government areas in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“The SPW will be implemented across the 774 LGAs in the country by the National Directorate of Employment in rural communities.
“You will recall that the minister of finance, budget and national planning announced the approval of Mr. President for the extension of this Programme to all 36 states and the FCT from October – December 2020 as a means of mitigating the effect of the Covid -19 pandemic on the economy.
“The Programme is also expected to provide modest stipends for itinerant workers to undertake roads rehabilitation and social housing construction, urban and rural sanitation, health extension and other critical services. Hence the directive of Mr. President for the NDE to collaborate with other ministries with rural components in their mandates.”