House of Reps PDP caucus threatens legal action
For instance, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives threatened to take legal action against the president and top officials of the Federal Government for allegedly undermining the National Assembly on the scheme.
The PDP caucus, which said it “unequivocally rejected and dissociated itself” from the programme, admonished its members to ignore the letters written to senators and House members by state coordinators of the National Directorate of Employment on behalf of the Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Festus Keyamo (SAN).
The lawmakers accused Keyamo and the NDE management of disregarding the parliament under Buhari’s watch.
Also, the caucus apologised to Nigerians for being part of the National Assembly that approved the N52bn for the implementation of the programme in the 2020 Appropriation Act, declaring that the N20,000 stipend to be paid to each beneficiary for three months as illegal “as it is against the provisions of the National Minimum Wages Act.”
When Daily Trust Sunday visited the headquarters of National Directorate of Employment (NDE) in Abuja to assess the federal government’s preparedness ahead of the take-off of the scheme, Deputy Director/Head of Information and Public Relations, Edmund Onwuliri, referred our correspondent to the ministry of labour and employment.
He said, “A son cannot play some roles when his father is still alive.
Kindly visit the ministry to get the latest update on 774,000 jobs.
But a top official at NDE, who pleaded anonymity, said the federal government has not procured the tools for the commencement of the programme.
“Honestly, I doubt if the government at the centre is ready because it is not planning to disburse money for the committee selected across the states or any individual to procure the tools. The government said it wanted uniformity in the scheme which is a good idea but things are supposed to be done accordingly to achieve better results,” the official said.
Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, reiterated that the federal government would not release money to the committees or any individual to avoid any diversion.
He maintained that the government has not changed its position in paying N20,000 monthly stipend directly to the account of employees through Bank Verification Number (BVN).
Checks by our correspondents revealed that many states have concluded recruitment but it was uncertain if those engaged would commence work in October.
These even as there are concerns that the jobs which were meant for ordinary Nigerians have been hijacked by the politicians.
In Kano State, the Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammed Garba, said the state government was ready to explore the opportunities that the planned programme comes with.
According to him, the state government had already constituted a committee to that effect, adding that the state was formally contacted by NDE on the issue.
However, Civil Society Organisations in the state have disagreed with the committee composition as well as the processes it engaged in selecting beneficiaries in Kano State.
Malam Ibrahim Wayya, the President, Kano Civil Society Forum (KCSF), insisted that CSOs in the state were totally excluded in the composition of membership of the committee.
According to him, the act negates the ethics of transparency, saying the committee composition needs restructuring to be all-inclusive of stakeholders that matter.
Reports from Rivers State show that the state and Federal Government are not on the same page over the nomination of eligible beneficiaries of the scheme.
The Rivers State government described the scheme as a scam, alleging that the programme has been hijacked by members of the opposition All Progressives Congress in the state.
Erastus Awortu, the Special Adviser to Governor Wike on Niger Delta Development Commission, made the allegation in a letter addressed to the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo.
However, the state government has not shown any commitment to the project. Daily Trust Sunday reports that the committee is allegedly headed by a chieftain of APC, Dr Innocent Barikor.
Dr Barikor, who had since dismissed the state government’s allegation,
said no party, including the APC, could hijack the programme. He insisted that the committee was in discussion with the state government to show more commitment to the programme.
Describing the government’s decision as unfortunate, he said it could have been caused by some misinformation about the programme.
“It is unfortunate that this is happening and we are not happy about it. Government is one everywhere. The essence of government is the welfare of our people. But I am still engaging in the process. I believe that some level of misinformation is responsible for what has happened.
“We will continue to engage them to ensure that we get them on board.
It is important to state that this is a federal government programme.
It is a national assignment that has been given to us as members of the committee. We will not renege in ensuring that the assignment is adequately and dispassionately attended to,” Barikor was quoted to have said.
Although the Niger State government said it was fully ready for the take-off of the programme, Daily Trust Sunday gathered that recruitment of the beneficiaries was not yet concluded.
Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed Matane, in an interview with our correspondent, said the state had already set up a committee that will liaise with all the 25 LGAs of the state to generate names of beneficiaries.
He said the state worked in collaboration with the National Directorate of Employment and “the committee is expected to come up with other sub-committees from local government areas to get names of deserving beneficiaries for the programme. Niger State is fully ready,” Matane said.
However, a lot of residents are skeptical about the process. They expressed fears that political gladiators may hijack the whole process.
Checks by our correspondent showed that some names have already been submitted.
The Oyo State coordinator of the programme, Opeyemi Salami, said the programme is expected to kick-start as slated by the federal government.
According to him, the committee in the state has done everything humanly possible to ensure the programme kicks off without any hiccups.
The coordinator, therefore, dispelled rumour that the job is reserved for politicians, particularly members of the opposition All Progressives Congress in the state.
But some residents of the state have described the scheme as a “gimmick to defraud the nation.”
“Our people are terrible. Have you seen any sign of preparedness for the jobs? I don’t see any sign in my local government as we speak,” Mogaji Wale Oladoja said.
Another resident, Sola Olawuyi, said he cannot see any sign of readiness for the proposed jobs.
“I am a stakeholder in my local government and I don’t even know the coordinator in my local government. I don’t see any sign of recruitment in my local government,” he said.
Bauchi State has completed the recruitment exercise across the 20 local government areas of the state, it was gathered.
A member of the State Selection Committee of the project who doesn’t want his name in print told Daily Trust Sunday that the recruitment of 20,000 people has been completed smoothly without rancour.
According to him, “The only challenge faced during the exercise was the delay of submission of candidates from political office holders, including the office of the governor and members of the National Assembly.
“Today (Thursday) is the deadline for submission of candidates but up till now, some of the politicians have not submitted their list.
“In Bauchi State, the office of the Governor was given 100 slots; minister from the state got 100 slots and members of the National Assembly received 80 slots each, while the remaining were recruited from the 20 LGAs across the state.”
When contacted, State Secretary of Committee who is also the State NDE Coordinator, Lawal Yaya, in a text message replied “Thursday is the deadline for the recruitment and the exercise has been hitch-free in Bauchi State.”
Many people, however, kicked against the allocation of slots to politicians during a phone-in programme on radio.
Najib Sani, an author and public affairs analyst, said the 774, 000 jobs should be shared to poor Nigerians not the “overfed politicians.”
“1, 000 people per local government is fair but I don’t support the idea of giving it to politicians to distribute because many Nigerians would be short-changed if the jobs are to be shared by the politicians. Why I said this is because, every politician has his own party and supporters. If they’re to share it, they will consider only their supporters or party members.
“Then, what about the ordinary Nigerians who are not partisan? Don’t they deserve it? It should be open to all and sundry just as the N-power program where many Nigerians benefitted without favouritism.”
He explained that since the ministry involved CSOs, NGOs, youth groups, religious and traditional leaders in the recruitment committee, the interest of every group should be protected.
Credit: Daily Trust