The federal government’s Special Public Works (SPW) programme aimed at employing 774,000 youths across the 774 local government councils will kick off today, with a formal launch expected on Friday.
The project which was initially slated to commence October 1 was shifted to November after the minister of state for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN) had written a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari, informing him that most of the proposed project sites were still water-logged as the rains had not abated.
However, Tunde Moshood, the special assistant on media to the minister of state for Labour and Employment, told our correspondent over the phone that a formal launch will now be next Friday, November 6.
He said, “Yes, it is going ahead. November first is Sunday, so there can’t be an official lunch on Sunday”.
He said the Minister of state for Labour, Festus Keyamo will openly declare the commencement of the programme in Delta.
LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that the programme will start with a test run in 18 states, while other states will join at a later date.
Many successful beneficiaries of the progaramme have received text messages from banks and their local government confirming their participation.
Meanwhile, stakeholders have applauded the move, saying the initiative, if not politicised midway, will give birth to economic prosperity, even as it would reduce in the long run the growing unemployment rate in the country.
The stakeholders who spoke in separate interviews with LEADERSHIP SUNDAY yesterday advised that a systemic, multidimensional economy with a wide approach was important in tackling the growing problem of unemployment.
On his part, the director-general of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, advised that to make the government initiative works, there must be creation of an enabling environment for investors, especially the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
Yusuf said, “We need to focus on factors impeding the performance of these businesses. We need to address infrastructure issues, access to foreign exchange, regulatory challenges, funding, technology, ports customs, taxes, fees and levies, as well as bureaucracy, to mention a few of the constraints.
“Supporting the creation of new businesses is a good idea, but facilitating the growth of existing businesses is more impactful and more sustainable. We need to deal with all dimensions of the unemployment challenge.”
Also, an entrepreneurship and business management expert, Dr Timi Olubiyi, said if the job creation drive is sustained, it would be desirable and attractive.
He however called on the government to strengthen existing jobs against the looming job losses due to unavoidable recession and the pandemic which is still very much around.
He pointed out that world over, SME’s are substantially the major employer of labour, avenue for wealth creation and sustainable economic development.
Similarly, the president of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Comrade Williams Akporeha, who commended President Muhammadu Buhari on the planned creation of 774,000 jobs, prayed that the jobs should be permanent ones and not the kind of jobs that will phase out in a few years.
“I must commend PMB because his administration is the type that is trying to meet the yearning of the people. He is making positive effort by these planned jobs which I believe is for civil service sector, in any case, it is a welcome development. But I pray they should not be politicised jobs that would fade away at expiration of this administration”, he said.
Similarly, the president of National Union of Food and Beverage Employees (NUFBTE), Comrade Oyelekan Lateef, who applauded Buhari for being sensitive to the plight of Nigerian youths through the planned job creation, noted that “if indeed the promise to create 774,000 is allowed to work, the number of unemployment would shrink by 774,000.
“And if the organised private sector is also able to create much room for employment, then, the society will enjoy peaceful atmosphere,” he added.
In a separate reaction, the general secretary of NUFBTE, Comrade Mike Olanrewaju, commended President Buhari for the planned jobs.Speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday, he charged the federal government to make the planned jobs productive and lasting ones that would help engage the youths, thereby keeping them from idleness.
Olanrewaju said, “This means one thousand jobs from the 774 local governments which is a better step in the right direction. We pray it should not be a political statement because it is better said than done.
“But if done, it would curb insecurity in the land, as an idle hand is always the workshop of the devil. If they are actively engaged, they will have no interest in anything that would undermine such ventures.
“They can easily be manipulated for evil things when they don’t have functional and productive jobs. But if truly it is not political statement, if truly FG can make this promise a reality, then, there would be bright hope for this country because as it is now, the country is at the cross road without clear cut direction”.
The federal government had earlier kick-started the Special Public Works (SPW) programme, which was designed to create 774,000 jobs across the nation, with the inauguration of the State Selection Committees.
-The initiative plans to employ 1,000 persons from each of the 774 LGA in the country
-Each of the beneficiaries of the programme will be paid N20,000 monthly to carry out public works.
-The implementation agency for the programme is the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
The minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, while performing the virtual inauguration in a joint address with the director-general of NDE, Nasir Ladan Argungu, had disclosed that an inter-ministerial committee drawn from 8 ministries and headed by the NDE recommended the setting up of states’ selection committees to identify and recruit those to be engaged under the programme.
Artisans In 11 States, FCT Get N30,000 One-time Grant
Meanwhile, the presidency has disclosed that artisans in 11 states and the federal capital territory (FCT) have started receiving the N30,000 one-time grant under the Artisan Support Scheme of the Federal Government.
The Artisan Support Scheme is under the federal government’s Survival Fund programme to support Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) nationwide.
Laolu Akande, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity to the vice president, disclosed this in a statement he issued yesterday.
He said that the beneficiaries in 11 states and the FCT were in the first stream and had started collecting the N30,000 one-time grant.
He listed the states to include Lagos, Ondo, Kaduna, Borno, Kano, Bauchi, Anambra, Abia, Rivers, Plateau and Delta States as well as the FCT.
Akande said, “The registration for the second batch of states has already begun; there will also be a third batch. All the 36 states and FCT are covered and verified beneficiaries will be paid the one-time grant.
“Another phase has begun on the survival fund scheme where 250,000 business names will be registered by the CAC for free. The Federal Government is going to pay for the cost of the business registration and the first 250,000 Nigerians will be beneficiaries, it is on a first-come-first-serve basis.”
He noted that the federal government, under its MSME Survival Fund scheme, would be paying three months’ salaries of certain categories of workers.
Akande listed such categories as private school teachers, transport workers and other categories of business owners, adding that it will help cushion the economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic shut down.
He added that the Survival Fund Payroll Support would pay the sum of N30,000 or N50,000 grant over three months to 500,000 beneficiaries nationwide.
According to him, a one-time grant of N30,000 will be paid to artisans and N50,000 to some small businesses.
Akande said that in spite of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) would help revamp the nation’s economy, boost local production, sustain and create jobs.
He said that the ESP, which was approved by the President and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in June, was a N2.3 trillion stimulus plan for the economy.
He said the ESP had different components which were sector specific and tailored to provide solutions to sustain jobs and boost the economy.
Akand continued: “The Agro programme (for agriculture) has been making progress so far as we have enumerated more than 4 million farmers who will be benefiting under the agricultural aspect of the ESP.
“The Central Bank on Nigeria will be making lending possible for the bigger partners who will in turn make the equipment, services, yields and fertilisers to smallholder farmers.”
“They will also be going to about 5 million and these are essentially small holder farmers, of which they are also targeting the significant increase in cultivation.
“They are also looking at 20,000 acres of land per state, of which all of that is in progress and very soon money will be allocated to fund the project.”
He further stated that the federal government was making progress on the ESP 300,000 social housing scheme, which was designed to build houses across the country for low income earners.
On the ESP solar power initiative, Akande said it would create 250,000 jobs and provide electricity for millions of homes via installation of solar panels in 5 million homes across the country.
He disclosed that the Solar Home systems and mini-grids would be installed in 5 million homes across the country in places where they were not already connected to the National Grid.