Public Works Scheme: N52bn can create viable industries across 774 LGAs – PDP caucus tell Buhari
• Says scheme politically motivated, unsustainable
The PDP Caucus in the House of Representatives on Monday warned Federal Government to ensure judicious utilization of the N52 billion proposed for Special Public Works Programme, by establishing viable industry in the 774 Local Government Areas of the Federation.
The PDP Caucus Chairman, Hon. Kingsley Chinda (PDP-Rivers), who stated this in a statement obtained by Nigerian Tribune, disassociated the Minority parties from the programmes initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari led APC Administration.
To this end, he urged all PDP members to “ignore the letters written to Senators and House of Representatives members by APC State Coordinators of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) on behalf of the Minister of State (Labour and Employment), asking for the nominate of 30 and 25 individuals respectively from each Local Government Area in their constituency.
“The Caucus considers this correspondence – a condemnable attempt to bribe and hoodwink the institution of the National Assembly into complicity in the misapplication of Nigeria’s scarce resources for the implementation of a questionable, misguided, absurd and arguably unlawful scheme that alarmingly intends to expend N52 billion under the guise of “creating employment” for only three months. This regrettably is the most unsustainable employment scheme implemented by any government.
“While the caucus espouses the eradication of poverty and the creation of gainful and sustainable employment for the burgeoning population of unemployed Nigerians under this administration, it flies in the face of reason and common sense why this government insists on expending enormous resources for the implementation of a politically motivated transient Programme, dubiously shrouded as “employment” having no empowering or enduring benefit to ordinary Nigerians especially when several viable and veritable job and wealth creating alternatives exist for application of the funds,” Hon. Chinda noted.
According to him: “Elementary division of the approved Programme budget of N52billion by 774 LGAs in Nigeria implies expenditure of N67.184 million (about $150,000) in each LGA of Nigeria which if applied judiciously and transparently will suffice for the establishment of a viable Industry in each LGA.
“He added that for several years to come will provide gainful, enduring and sustainable direct and indirect employment for more than 100 skilled and unskilled poor unemployed Nigerians per LGA and provide an invaluable opportunity for future growth, skill acquisition and economic development.
“New International Labour Organization (ILO) data reveals that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMES) account for a staggering 70% of employment worldwide, as they constitute more than 90% of enterprises in all developing countries of the world and in addition to creating employment, they are the engines of economic growth and social development contributing up to 70% of the GDP of all countries in the world (ILO 2019).
“According to World Bank estimates, 600 million jobs will be needed by 2030 to absorb the growing global workforce, which makes SME development a high priority for many governments around the world (The World Bank 2020) and should ordinarily be of extreme priority to the Nigerian Government.
“From the estimated sum of N67.184 million intended to be expended in each LGA of Nigeria, N1million per SME can be utilized for the creation and development of 67 SMEa per LGA who will engage in viable and lucrative businesses in the Agriculture, mining and other value chains that in most instances would be peculiar to each individual LGA and create gainful employment for up to 3 or more poor Nigerians per SME.
“Even in emerging markets and developed countries of the world, Micro Enterprises which are usually categorized as having less than 10 employees constitute between 75% to 95% of businesses in the country (OECD 2020, The Company Warehouse n.d.), it can very confidently be inferred that these enterprises probably constitute up to 99% of the businesses in Nigeria.
“The creation and development of 67 SMEs in each LGA will provide at least 134 actual sustainable jobs per LGA and 103,716 nationwide. The impact on Nigeria’s economy and GDP will be astronomical and will set Nigeria on the path to economic growth and development. The gains to Nigerians and Nigeria’s socio-economic growth and development can be sustainable and enduring if the Nigerian government (Executive and Legislature) tackles the three cardinal challenges faced by SME’S which according to the International Labour Organization (ILO 2019) include Regulatory Environment.
“Access to Finance and Skills shortages by instituting, amending or repealing legislation to avoid complex rules and regulations that impede SME growth, consistent provision of significant financial intervention to SME’S and adequately funding NDE, SMEDAN and other relevant government agencies to continuously provide sublime entrepreneurship training and skill acquisition.
“This is common sense and not rocket science! The inability of the Buhari-led APC administration to conceptualize viable ideas for the expenditure of N52billion for the benefit of ordinary poor Nigerians as has been eloquently elucidated by the PDP Caucus of the House of Representatives emphasizes the dearth in cerebral capacity and acumen within the administration to proffer solutions to the myriad of issues bedeviling the nation and informs its inability in more than 5 years to record significant achievements in the administrations focal campaign tripod of Security, Corruption and Economy,” he stressed.
Hon. Chinda who argued that the concept behind the Buhari administration’s Special Public Works Programme appears to be similar, fundamental differences exist in the initiation, implementation and duration when compared to the innovative programmes utilized by industrialized nations during the great depression and similar initiatives by African and Asian nations as alluded to by the Minister, however observed that “these programmes were usually instituted by formal legislation creating dedicated sources of revenue for engagement of poor unskilled workers in the development of specific significant public infrastructure for an extended period for the benefit of current and future generations.
“The remuneration of workers was either equal to or more than the related countries minimum wage (depending on skill set) with extensive opportunities for skill acquisition while responsibility for implementation of such programmes was domiciled with the heads of the relevant agencies.”
“On April 8, 1935, the US Congress approved the Emergency Relief Appropriation Bill which funded the Works Progress Administration (WPA) one of the agencies under the New Deal programmes created by President Franklin Roosevelt to relieve the economic hardship of the Great Depression, this National Works Program employed more than 8.5 million people on 1.4 million public projects before it was disbanded in 1943 after 8 years (as shown in the Library of Congress 2020, Wikipedia n.d.). Many famous American Landmarks like The Camp David Presidential Estate in Maryland were built under the WPA (Wikipedia n.d.).
“Similar Public Works Programmes in China (Elegant, S., Ramzy, A. 2009), India, Ethiopia and Rwanda (Zimmermann, 2020) and recent collaborations between ILO and several countries around the world are instituted by formal legislation with dedicated consistent funding, targeted at development of major public infrastructure for extended periods with extensive opportunities for skill acquisition and are either permanently part of the countries extant laws (like India) or have been in existence for decades (like China, Ethiopia and Rwanda).
“None of the countries mentioned by the Minister instituted Public works programmes for three months with no guaranteed consistent source of funding, no specific public infrastructure intended to be developed, no available opportunity for skill acquisition, no plan for implementation or coordination between MDA’S, no transparent identification of unskilled poor target population, politicisation of recruitment procedure and payment of remuneration less than the minimum wage of the country.
“The Buhari administration’s insistence that the Special Public Works Programme is an employment intensive scheme implies that the monthly stipend of N20,000 proposed by this administration as remuneration for target workers is a violation of the provisions of the National Minimum Wage Act 2019 enacted under this same administration which stipulates in Section 3(1-3) that every employer shall pay a minimum wage of not less than N30,000 to each worker every month, the minimum wage shall be the minimum total amount of money an employer of labour is required to pay the lowest paid worker or employee monthly and any agreement for the payment of wages less than the National minimum wage is void.”