By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The federal government on Thursday said that N46.2 billion has been voted for the payment of the 774,000 people to be engaged under the special public works programme.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo, said that government has commenced preparation for the flag-off of the programme immediately the rains are over.
He said the president has asked the ministry to draw up a budget that will cover cost of equipment and other materials that will be needed for the takeoff of the special public works programme.
Keyamo used the opportunity to reel out the composition of the committees that will help to implement the extended special public works programme across the 774 local governments in the country.
While speaking on the cost implications of the programme, the minister said that the federal government had already allocated the N46.2 billion to be used to pay participants in the public works programme across the 774 local government areas in the country.
He said: “774 multiplied by 1,000 and then by N20,000 that is N46.2 billion. So the government has allocated N46.2 billion to be used for the payment of the beneficiaries.”
Keyamo said he had earlier inaugurated a Special Inter-ministerial Committee on the Extended Special Public Works on Wednesday, 29th April, 2020.
He said the committee sat for several weeks and have proposed a list of projects within their ministries that may require the intervention of the public works programme.
“Over 3,000 projects and 42,000 manpower are being proposed by them. In a steering capacity, the committee has also made certain recommendations to me.
“Having reviewed all the recommendations of this Inter-ministerial Committee, I believe that the selection of the beneficiaries and projects should be a local affair and not to be done from a room in Abuja. Consequently, in line with Section 16(1) of the N.D.E Act, I have decided to constitute special committees in each state of the federation for the purpose of deliberating, selecting and recommending to my office the names of the 1,000 persons from each of the local government areas in the states to be engaged for this programme,” he said.
The minister said committees to be known as the State Selection Committees of the Special Public Works (SPW) would also identify the projects to be executed in those council areas.
He said that each 20-member committee will comprise a chairman and vice-chairman who will be indigenes of that state or who are ordinarily resident in that state.
It will include a state co-ordinator of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) of that state who will be the Secretary, and one representative of the governor of that state.
The Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) of that state or his representative/nominee, the state chairman of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs or his representative/nominee, state chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) or his representative/nominee, market women leader, among other stakeholders are to serve as members of the committees.
Keyamo said that the state implementation committee is a distinct and separate committee from the state Advisory Committee set up under section 5(2) of the N.D.E Act whose functions are different.
He also said that all members of the state selection committees would not be persons holding any official position in any of the registered political parties.
In order to come clean to Nigerians and to be as transparent as possible, Keyamo said that no one outside the committee will be allowed to dictate who should take part in the scheme.
He said only 20 per cent of the slots will be reserved for political office holders to ensure they do not hijack the laudable programme meant to ameliorate the sufferings of the masses.
When asked about the criteria for choosing the project to be executed, Keyamo said the various committees are to decide on what suits their areas.
He said that only projects requiring light equipment will be approved for execution under the programme.
“We cannot sit down here and determine the project to be executed at the various local areas. It is not the intendment,” he said.
According to Keyamo, the ministry is designing a website to facilitate feedback and monitoring of projects being implemented in the public works programme, adding that the idea is to enable Nigerians to easily reach the ministry on the stages of execution.
On how to conduct the recruitment of participants into the programme, he said the ministry has reached agreement with selected banks to undertake registration of the participants in the public works programme.
Earlier, the minister gave an update of the pilot scheme which was approved to be implemented in five local government areas in eight states namely: Adamawa, Borno, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Jigawa, Katsina and Kwara.
He said that the pilot project had commenced as scheduled in February but was suspended due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
He said beneficiaries engaged in drainage digging and clearance, irrigation canals clearance, rural feeder road maintenance, maintenance of the Great Green Wall nurseries and orchards in Borno, Jigawa and Katsina States, while others engaged in traffic control street cleaning, cleaning of public infrastructure like health centres, schools and the likes.
He said that a total of 40,000 direct transient jobs were expected to be created in the eight pilot states.