BY Sunday Aborisade
The Senate berated the Minister of State for Employment, Labour and Productivity, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN), again on Wednesday over the recruitment of 774,000 Nigerians for the Federal Government’s Special Public Works programme.
Spokesperson for the Senate, Dr Ajibola Basiru, in an interview with The PUNCH, described as false, a claim by the minister that each member of the National Assembly was given 30 slots in the ongoing nationwide public works recruitment.
As the Senate condemned Keyamo, the Ogun State Chairman of Special Public Works, Senator Gbenga Obadara, in an interview with our correspondent said four doctoral and 200 Master’s degree holders were among applicants in the state.
Answering a question from one of our correspondents, he said, “Four PhD and 200 master’s degree holders have applied.”
Obadara said the committee started distribution of forms four weeks ago and that almost 20,000 persons from 20 local government areas had obtained the forms.
Speaking on the challenges facing the committee, Obadara described 20,000 slots allotted for the state as “a drop of in the ocean.
“Poverty is ravaging. Unemployment is extremely on the high rise. People with master’s degrees even PhD degrees are applying for 20,000 jobs. That is the problem. It cannot cover everybody. We cannot blame the Federal Government.”
Recall that the President Muhammadu Buhari had a few months ago, approved the employment of 774,000 workers as part of efforts to cushion the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the programme, Nigerians, who will be unskilled workers, will earn N20, 000 each on a monthly basis for three months.
At least, 1,000 workers will be recruited from each of the 774 local government areas of the country.
The programme ran into a hitch last month when the National Assembly and Keyamo disagreed over who should handle the recruitment.
The Senators had insisted that the programme should be handled by the National Directorate of Employment.
But following the President’s intervention, the crisis was resolved. Two weeks ago, the Chairman of the Extended Special Public Work Selection Committee in Rivers State, Dr Innocent Barikor, was quoted to have said that the minister had directed that every governor should be given 40 slots in each local government area, while each senator and House of Representatives member would enjoy 30 slots in their various council areas.