The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo SAN, FCiarb(UK) today, Monday, June 29th, 2020 inaugurated the special committees for the selection of applicants on the proposed federal government Special Public Works programme.
The post Covid19 poverty alleviation programme which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari is aimed principally at recruiting one thousand (1,000) itinerant, unskilled workers each in all the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) accumulating to total employments of 774,000 Nigerians across the nation.
In a virtual inauguration conference jointly addressed by the DG, National Directorate of Employment, Dr. Nasir Ladan Argungu in Abuja, the Minister disclosed that “they have reached this point in the progressive march towards executing the programme after the painstaking work of an Inter-Ministerial Committee he inaugurated on Wednesday, 29th April, 2020. This Inter-Ministerial Committee drawn from eight (8) Ministries and headed by the Director General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) made far-reaching recommendations on ways and means of executing this programme, one of which is the setting up of States’ Selection Committees to identify and recruit those to be engaged under the Programme. These Committees would also be saddled with the responsibility of identifying the public works to be executed in each of the LGAs in all the States. This would be in addition to projects already identified by several Federal Ministries, Agencies and Parastatals in different localities across the country.
Stating further, the Minister said, “Having accepted the recommendations, we also ensured that the composition of the Committees is multi-sectoral and local enough to balance all the competing interests in different States. Your selection, therefore was a result of a painstaking process we carried out to ensure that we make the exercise as credible as possible.
The 1,000 persons you will recruit per LGA would be engaged by the Federal Government between October and December this year to carry out public works that are peculiar to each Local Government Area. They would be paid a total of N60,000 each (that is N20,000 per month). They would be engaged in roads rehabilitation and social housing construction, urban and rural sanitation, health extension and other critical services. Depending on how successful the programme is or how buoyant the Federal Government’s purse is, this programme may either be extended or repeated every year. There are also various suggestions on some exit strategies for this programme, one of which is to move these workers to some agricultural projects, but nothing is concrete yet.
You must therefore see this task as a serious, patriotic national assignment. This programme can rightly be described as one of President Buhari’s many star programmes for the lowly, weak and vulnerable people in our society. Hence you must treat it as such.
Because of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we could not all gather in one place to do this inauguration, where we could have also physically handed over to you your letters of appointments. But all the formal letters of appointments will be in our various States’ offices of the NDE this week for everyone to collect.
You will also notice that it is only the Chairmen, Vice-Chairmen and Secretaries that joined us by virtual means today. All other members in the Committees would be contacted by the Secretaries as to the time and place for their inaugural meetings and how they will proceed with the assignments. However, I direct that all meetings should be done in the various State offices of the NDE or some other neutral venues in order to avoid undue influences on the Committees.
Permit me at this junction to say that we are already running out of time on the execution of this programme. This is because a lot still have to be done before the various works begin in October. After the selection of those to be engaged, they still have to be captured by some selected banks we are in talks with, their account opened, and their BVNs obtained. This is because Mr President has directed that everyone must be paid through their BVNs to eliminate fraud in the programme. With this measure, no single person can be paid twice.
As a result, I direct that all the States’ Selection Committees have just three weeks (3) to complete the selection process and return the names of those selected to us for further processing with the banks. We are hereby releasing immediately, all the names and phone numbers of every member of the various Committees in the entire country for easy access by Nigerians in their various localities to make cases for their inclusions. Members of the Committees, in turn, will also reach out to various sectors of their different States to recruit eligible Nigerians. The final details of how these would be done will communicated to the Committees through their various Chairmen and Secretaries.
You are therefore enjoined to wait for those details from the Chairmen and Secretaries before proceeding. These would be ready in the next few days in the form of Guidelines for the Operation of the States’ Selection Committees.
My belief is that if the Committees adhere strictly to the Guidelines given to them, they are bound to achieve the targets set by Mr President to reach out to 774,000 Nigerians who are largely indigent and itinerant workers. Fortunately, you are saddled with this onerous task and I enjoin you to ensure it is a success. However, the Federal Government will not hesitate to remove and replace any member of the Committees that does not adhere strictly to the Guidelines given to the Committees or acts in such a way and manner as to undermine the purpose of this programme.
It is for the above reasons and in the exercise of my powers under Section 16(1) of the NDE Act that I inaugurate you today.