•Asks finance minister to withhold funds
Udora Orizu in Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday asked the federal government to halt the take-off of the 774,000 special works programme scheduled to commence January 5 2021.
The House also asked the Ministry of Finance not to release the funds meant for the programme until some issues that affect the integrity of the programme are sorted out.
It further condemned the removal of the Director-General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Mr. Mohammed Argungu, directing that he should be reinstated immediately.
The resolutions followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance, titled, ‘Urgent need to stop the circumvention of due process by the federal/ ministry of labour and productivity in allocating the 774,000 in the special public works programme,’ sponsored by Hon. Olajide Olatunbosun.
Moving the motion, Olatunbosun recalled that in October 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari, approved a Pilot Special Public Works Programme for the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) to implement in eight states of the federation.
He noted that the Special Public Works in the Rural Areas is an employment intensive technique acquired and adapted by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) from one of the capacity-building collaborations with the International Labour Organisation (lLO) in the middle of the 1990s.
He also said the National Assembly appropriated a sum of N52bn in the 2020 fiscal year for the Special Public Works Programme out of which each beneficiary will be paid N20,000 per month over a period of three months.
He expressed concerns that if this programme is allowed to go ahead without following due process, a bad precedent would have been set for implementing programmes of this nature in the future as our institutions are gradually undermined.
In his contribution, Hon. Onofiok Luke said the decision of the government to sack the director-general of the NDE was ill-advised, adding that he stood for the right thing to be done and ensure that the programme succeeds.
He said there was the need to suspend the programme because there are silent issues which bother on the integrity of the legislature and the need to build institutions.
Luke asserted that the DG stood for what is right and the decision to remove him was ill-advised, adding that since the programme was initially supposed to take place in 2020, the money meant for it was provided for in the 2020 budget, and since it has been shifted to 2021, there was the need to suspend its implementation until there is provision made for it in the 2021 budget.