BY Leke Baiyewu

The House of Representatives has refused to comment on the commencement of Federal Government’s Special Public Works Programme as it kicks off nationwide on Tuesday (today) against a resolution by the parliament to suspend it.

The House had particularly asked the Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Festus Keyamo (SAN), to suspend the exercise indefinitely until all issues the National Assembly had against it were resolved.

On the contrary, Keyamo had via his Twitter handle on Sunday announced that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had approved the commencement of the initiative.

He tweeted, “President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the take-off of the Special Public Works Programme (engaging 774,000 unemployed itinerant Nigerians) to begin nationwide on Tuesday, January 5th, 2021. All NDE state structures are already in top gear for the take-off.”

While N52bn was appropriated for the scheme, each of the 774,000 workers will earn N20,000 monthly for the three-month duration of the job, amounting to about N46.44bn.

When contacted on Monday, the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Benjamin Kalu, declined to speak on the development, despite the fact that lawmakers recently called for the suspension of the programme and reinstatement of Ladan.

In a related development, when contacted, Osun state Coordinator, National Directorate for Employment, Mallam Ismail Yekeen, said the beneficiaries would be deployed to an agriculture centre owned by the state government.

Yekeen also said that the beneficiaries would clear drainages and roads, adding that meetings had been held regarding other areas the beneficiaries would be deployed.

But the Gombe State coordinator of NDE, Hassan Mustapha, said the state was not ready for the launch of the Federal Government’s programme scheduled for tomorrow.

He said the state had yet to schedule a commencement date which was dependent on the approval from the head office.

According to Mustapha, “Tomorrow is going to be a national flag-off; so, it may not actually concern the states. Most of the states are not ready for take-off. In Gombe, we are not ready.”

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