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774,000 jobs to address poverty, hunger, says Fed Govt
By AbdulGafar Alabelewe, Kaduna, Kolade Adeyemi, Jos, Augustine Okezie, Kastina, Uja Emmanuel, Makurdi, Okungbowa Aiwerie, Asaba
• Makinde: scheme to fight indigence
• ‘Governors, ministers to inaugurate programme in states’
The Federal Government has said the 774,000 Extended Special Public Works Programme (ESPWP) was designed to shield vulnerable Nigerians from pervasive hunger and poverty.
The government spoke on Tuesday through Environment Minister, Dr. Mohammed Mahmud Abubakar, during the launching of the programme in Kaduna State.
Abubakar said though the ESPW is an ephemeral strategy which will last three months, it will provide necessary economic palliatives to the 774,000 unemployed beneficiaries across the country.
The minister explained that the ESPWP is the outcome of the Pilot Special Public Works Programme in rural areas approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and implemented by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) early in 2020.
“The pilot programme was implemented in eight states of the federation to gauge its impact on addressing the ballooning population of the unemployed and rising insecurity in some parts of the country. This strategy was adopted to fast-track the achievement of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020).
“However, with the emergence of the novel COVID-19 pandemic, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), under the chairmanship of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, to craft economic measures to cushion the adverse socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Under the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Committee (NESP), the Ministry of Labour and Employment decided to adopt a proactive approach by engaging the nation’s youths in some important sectors of the economy. This strategy is intended to facilitate the creation of productive and inclusive societies in our nation.
“It is also aimed at shielding the most vulnerable from the ravaging effects of COVID-19 pandemic, which include but are not limited to pervasive hunger, poverty, environmental degradation and joblessness. The need to quickly address the above-mentioned informed the decision to implement the ESPW.
“As I address you today, our target is to immediately engage the 774,000 selected unemployed Nigerians for the programme to execute carefully selected projects across the 774 local government areas in the country,” he said.
Acting Director General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Mallam Abubakar Nuhu Fikpo, said the programme is a significant step in Nigeria’s quest to win the war against mass unemployment as well as to ameliorate the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the NDE was conscious of the expectations of President Buhari and his sincere desire and commitment to supporting the less privileged at a time the country and other parts of the whole world strive for recovery from the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde on Tuesday hailed the Federal Government for establishing the Extended Special Public Works (ESPW) programme to reduce unemployment across the country.
He described the programme as a direct attack on unemployment, adding that it would bringing raise the living standard of the 1,000 beneficiaries in the state.
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The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Rauf Olaniyan, spoke at the state inauguration of the programme at Akinyele Local Government secretariat in Moniya, Ibadan.
He said the programme would complement the state government’s efforts at addressing unemployment.
Makinde said his administration the state government would soon give letters of appointment to 5,000 teachers and over 2,000 non-teaching staff as permanent workers in the service of the state.
He added that new medical personnel would soon be offered letters of appointment too, apart from some lawyers that have been recruited as state counsel.
“All these are aiming to reduce the unemployment rate.
“So, you will agree with me that this programme is actually complementing the efforts of the state government in bringing the unemployment in the state to minimum level,” he said.
Minister of State for Ministry of Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN) said the programme was aimed at shielding the most vulnerable from the ravaging effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, these include but not limited to, pervasive hunger, poverty, environmental degradation and joblessness.
Keyamo, who was represented by Mr. Olufemi Ajao, said the programme engaged 774,000 selected unemployed Nigerians in the 774 local government areas of the country.
Also, governors and ministers are expected to launch the new 774,000 Special Public Works Programme in their home states.
A member of the Katsina State branch of the Programme, Very Reverend Nelson Onyekakachukwu, told The Nation that the programme, which was expected to be launched yesterday in Abuja by President Buhari, would also be launched across the states as from today.
He said: “We received a directive from Abuja that the ministers are expected to launch the programme in their respective home states from Wednesday.
“Only 50 people are expected to attend the states’ launch because of the COVID-19 protocols.”
He gave a breakdown of those expected to attend to include: 20 captured candidates, 10 each from states and federal government delegates, five from NDE, two from the Emirs, the three remaining from the Chairman, Vice Chairman and a cleric from the state.
774,000 jobs to address poverty, hunger, says Fed Govt