774,000 Jobs: Confusion trails commencement of Special Public Works Program

While selected banks continued to capture biometrics of selected Candidated to participate in the 774,000 Special Public Works Program across the Federation, the official date for the commencement of the Program has been stalled by the power play at the helm of affairs.

UBA, FCMB, Zenith, Access, Fidelity and Heritage are the six banks enlisted for the programme and have reportedly completed 80-90% of the processes involved in account set up for the selected beneficiaries including elimination of double registration as well as overage disqualification.

The Nation reports that contrary to the earlier position of the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo, on the November 1st take-off date, the Director General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Nasir Ladan during his agency’s budget defence told the Senate Committee on Labour and Employment that the 774, 000 jobs will officially commence on December 1.

On announcing the 774,000 Special Public Works Program in April 2020, it was scheduled to kick-off on 1st October and end in December, 2020 but Mr Kayamo, having recieved approval from President Mohammadu Buhari for the postponement of the commencement date owing to the fact that it is a dry season program and the sites would have dried by Novermber, stated that the Program would commence officially on 1st November, 2020.

According to the report exclusively from The Nation, sources at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment said the announcement by the NDE director at the National Assembly came to the Minister as a “rude shock" adding that the NDE boss did not discuss any such matter with the Minister.

One of the sources, who pleaded anonymity, said: “We heard the announcement on television the same way too and we were all surprised. Even the minister too heard it on national television just like everyone else, but what can we do?

“The man (DG NDE) is giving a date on a national television that the minister is not aware of; that tells you that there is something at play. The minister is not aware of the December 1 date.”

The source further emphasised that Keyamo would not degenerate to the level of fighting his “subordinate even though the DG has been disobeying the directives of the minister. The minister will not degenerate to that level.”

The Nation's reports furthered that besides unilaterally announcing a new date for the take-off, Ladan also told the lawmakers that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved N26 billion for the take-off of the programme.

It added that when contacted, Keyamo declined to comment on the issue last night. The minister didn’t pick calls placed to his official mobile lines.

But, sources within the ministry said the government was looking at the December 1 announced by Ladan to officially commence the programme.

One of the sources said preparations were ongoing as toward the kick-off of the PSW.

He said: “The two ogas (Keyamo and Ladan) are yet to agree on when to launch the programme. They sent out people to go and find out the level of preparedness in the states. You know states have different levels of preparedness and they want to launch it on the same day.

“They are getting reports. I am sure by the end of this week, it will be clear to everybody and a decision will be taken.”

The 3 months program in which each successful beneficiary would be paid a monthly stipend of N20,000 is part of the President Mohammadu Buhari's palliative measures to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable Nigerians.

Those engaged in the program would be involved in mild activities such as clearing of gutters, clearing of market square, traffic control and other minor activities that would be assigned to them as a necessity in each of the States of the Federation.

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