By Ovie Okpare
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN) on Thursday said the Federal Government has released N46.4 billion for the payment of 774,000 beneficiaries of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Public Works Programme across the country.
Keyamo said the scheme will help stimulate grassroot economy as well as empowering the very poor in the society.
He spoke on Thursday during the launch of the implementation of the scheme at the PTI Conference Centre, Effurun, Uvwie council area of Delta state.
Effurun is the country-home of the minister.
Keyamo, who flagged off the programme in company of the Acting Director-General of the National Directorate of Employment, Mallam Abubakar Nuhu Fikpo, explained that each beneficiary of the scheme will receive N20,000 per month and a total of N60,000 for three months.
The minister, who described the scheme as novel in the history of the country, thanked President Buhari for setting up the programme to directly impact the lives of Nigerians.
He tasked the beneficiaries to take their assigned duties seriously, saying that their performance will be keenly monitored by the ministry.
According to him, those engaged will help in the maintenance of public infrastructure across the country.
Keyamo further stated that the stipend will also help ameliorate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic which has deepened hardship and hunger among Nigerians.
“For your information, the president has graciously released to us for the payment of stipends N46.4 billion. And we are ready to pay the stipend. For Delta State alone, the sum of N1.59 billion has been released. This money will inflate the economy at the grassroots level.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the programme is not designed for the clearing of grasses and digging of gutters or drainage system. But for the provision of diverse services tailored for the maintenance of public infrastructure among others.
“It is equally important to state that another underlying objective of this programme is to cushion the negative effect of COVID-19 pandemic,” Keyamo explained.
While commending President Buhari for ensuring that the programme finally kick-starts, he told the beneficiaries to be diligent as Mr. President may have other plans for them at the end of the three-month programme.
According to Keyamo, “This is the first time such programme is happening in the history of this country. There is no time any programme in this country has targeted from local government, 1,000 persons. And only God knows what the President has in mind after these three months. We have your names and account number and we are ready to work with you.
“President Muhammadu Buhari in his foresight and magnanimity has approved this programme to be extended to all the 774 LGAs of Nigeria, in order to engage 1000 unemployed persons from the local government. That is why today we have a total of 774,000 unemployed persons who have been engaged, documented and duly captured by the designated banks.
“They are expected to have engaged in the provision of services by catering for the specific needs of each benefitting community. For Uvwie local government, you are going to work with your coordinators, the state selection committee, the state and local government coordinators of the NDE.
“For these three months identify any project in Uvwie, whether to clear grass or to dig drainage so that we can be ready for the dry season. There will be a roaster. Maybe for one day, they will bring out 50 people, take them to Ekpan and ask them to clean the place.
“May I also say that a lot of plans are already being considered by government as strategy for participants at the end of the three months engagement. Part of the plans include collaboration with other levels, state and local governments, as well as private sector-based organizations.”.
In his remark, the Acting DG, NDE, Mallam Fikpo, enjoined host communities to be receptive and support the implementation of the programme.
He said, “We are demonstrating in practical terms and grassroots implementation of the programme. The project should be embraced without hesitation by the participants of this first batch. Benefitting communities should support the beneficiaries.”