Reps halt implementation of 774,000 jobs
• Call for immediate reinstatement of sacked NDE Director-General
The House of Representatives (Reps), on Tuesday, halted the implementation of the employment of 774,000 special public workers as well as payment of N52 billion allocated for the scheme pending the conclusion of various controversies trailing the initiative.
The resolution was passed after the adoption of a motion on the ‘Urgent need to stop the circumvention of due process by Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in allocating the 774,000 slots in the special public works programme,’ sponsored by Hon Olajide Olatubosun.
During the review of the public outcry trailing the recent sack of the Director-General of National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Nasiru Argungu, the lawmakers who condemned President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision, called for his immediate reinstatement.
In his lead debate, Hon Olatunbosun noted that in October 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari approved a Pilot Special Public Works Programme for the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) to implement in eight states of the Federation. The Pilot programme was implemented in 5 Local Government Areas in each of the eight states namely: Adamawa, Borno, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Jigawa, Katsina and Kwara.
“As a result of the success achieved in the implementation of the pilot scheme and the need to mitigate the negative socio-economic impact of the COVID 19 pandemic by providing social safety nets at the lowest level of the economy, the President approved for NDE to employ 774,000 unemployed persons under an expanded Special Public Works
Programme in all the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria by employing 1,000 persons per Local Government Area for a period of 3 months which originally was planned to commence on October 1, 2020.
“The House further notes that the Special Public Works in the Rural Areas is an employment intensive technique acquired and adapted by the National Directorate of Employment from one of the capacity-building collaborations with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the late 1980s to the middle of the 1990s. The Project was tagged ILO/NDE Labour Based/Light Equipment Methods of construction, Rehabilitation and maintenance of Public Infrastructure.
“These types of programmes were used during the Great depression by industrialised nations to immediately respond to grinding poverty at the lowest level of society. It was also effectively used during colonial Africa to quickly respond to situations such as drought and famine by mobilising the unskilled populace to engage in labour-intensive infrastructural projects as a means of immediately alleviating their economic situation. The concept was later adopted and developed by most Asian countries like India, China and Bangladesh to lift their countries out of the league of poor nations. This programme was one of the main reasons India quickly dropped in the poverty index.
“The House is aware that the National Assembly appropriated a sum of N52 billion in the 2020 fiscal year for the Special Public Works Programme out of which each beneficiary will be paid N20,000 per month over a period of three months.
“The House is further aware that the Minister of State for Labour inaugurated state selection committee for each state of the Federation while the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) as part of its statutory mandate was responsible for the registration of the beneficiaries.
“The House is concerned that the state selection committees in most states of the Federation by passed and ignored the list of beneficiaries compiled by the National Directorate of Employment and forwarded a separate list of purported beneficiaries to the office of the Minister of state for labour.
“The House is greatly concerned that most Nigerians that have submitted their names to the NDE offices in their respective states have been unjustly excluded from this programme which the Minister of State for labour announced will start on January 5, 2021.
“The House is worried that if this programme is allowed to go ahead without following due process, a bad precedent would have been set for implementing programmes of this nature in the future as our institutions are gradually undermined.”
In the bid to ensure due process, the House mandated the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, to stop with immediate effect all processes leading to the commencement of the programme on January 5, 2021, until the list of beneficiaries compiled by the NDE in each state is used as a basis of selection.
The House also mandated the Minister of Finance, Dr Zainab Ahmed, not to release funds for this programme until all issues that are related to non-compliance to due process are resolved.
To this end, the House mandated its joint Committees on Labour and Productivity and Legislative compliance to ensure compliance and report to the House in the next week.
Again, Reps halt employment, payment of 774,000 special public workers