The Federal Government has settled the stipends of 413,630 beneficiaries under the 774,000 Special Public Works Scheme to the tune of N24 billion.
The beneficiaries are drawn from rural communities and mostly itinerant workers across the 774 council areas of the country, according to the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN).
Speaking at the weekly ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Media Team in Abuja on Thursday, Keyamo said the scheme had attained 60 percent success.
The minister explained that the delay in settling the workers allowances was caused by the discrepancies noticed during the registration phase especially with bank verification numbers, adding that he uncovered some fraudulent Nigerians who opened multiple bank accounts under a single BVN.
Keyamo also attributed the delay in implementing the programme to the COVID-19 lockdown.
“President Buhari deserves commendation because this is the first time that itinerant workers are truly benefitting from a federal government social intervention scheme,’’ he said, describing the YouWin Programme as an innovation aimed at empowering Nigerian youths to establish their own businesses.
“On the same persons appearing all the time in respect of all federal government programmes in some states, while I don’t have the full facts regarding that, but I will not also in my true conscience, dispute your assertion.
“I will not because I know how the political terrain operates now, where you have godfathers everywhere as they are bringing programme of federal government, they hand it over to who they call the leader. That is how it operates regrettably, any Programme, in fact, they capture it like bandits here in Abuja.
“But that was why we designed it that way to be multi-sectorial. There is no programme ever before run by any government before us that you will see people who are not politicians brought into the selection process.
“I saw some opposition leaders complaining about the special public work that they didn’t get enough. And the question we asked them was that while you were running your own PDP programme, did we even hear anything about it as politicians? Did we hear anything about it? Keyamo stressed.
On the threats by the NLC to resume its strike in Kaduna State, the minister said efforts were on to avert it.
He explained:“The question regarding the NLC problem with the Kaduna government. Like I said, my colleague, the Minister of Labour and Employment may give you an update on that because I spoke with the NLC President, perhaps I should just give an update on that.
“We have heard of the threats to resume the strike, we intervened at some points, we called both parties together. There was actually a memorandum of understanding with the Kaduna state government, we are just conciliators. That also answers the question of why many strikes under our watch and does it mean that we are not doing our job.
“We are conciliators we are not the disputants. So don’t think the Ministry of Labour is actually the disputants every time you see strike, it doesn’t mean we are quarreling with everybody. When the doctors are on strike with Ministry of Health they are the disputants, we call both parties fighting together to our office to say, what is the problem let us hear you.
“When you hear teachers on strike and lecturers, it is the Ministry of Education and the teachers that are the disputants. And so we’re hardly disputing with anybody as Ministry of Labour.
“But for the Kaduna thing, Mr. President has been briefed on it. Mr. President has intervened and asked the parties to embrace the path of peace and dialogue. We hope that will be adhered to. So we will monitor the process and try to ensure that the memoranda of understanding we signed, that all parties are faithful to that agreement, and perhaps the NLC will not resume the industrial action in Kaduna state.
“So our duty now is just to pursue that path of peace and ensure that memorandum of understanding is implemented. So that’s as far that I can say. Like I said, I discussed with the president of NLC yesterday night, and he was asking for this kind of intervention, to ensure that that agreement is respected.”
On the plan by government to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, Keyamo said:“But I mentioned that as part of our larger package of poverty reduction package that FEC approved in the last few weeks, there are so many components of that package.
“The President is very serious about the issue of lifting 100 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years. He is really serious about it. So we are looking at different strategies to adopt to do that.’’