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774,000 Jobs Begin Today As Official Launching Slate To Friday

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Festus Keyamo (SAN)

The federal government’s Special Public Works (SPW) programme aimed at employing 774,000 youths across the 774 local government councils will kick off today, with a formal launching expected on Friday.

The project which was initially slated to commence October 1 was shifted to November after the minister of state for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN) had written a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari, informing him that most of the proposed project sites were still water-logged as the rains had not abated.

However, Tunde Moshood, the special assistant on media to the minister of state for Labour and Employment, told our correspondent over the phone that a formal launch will now be next Friday, November 6.

He said, “Yes, it is going ahead. November first is Sunday, so there can’t be an official lunch on Sunday”.

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He said the Minister of state for Labour, Festus Keyamo will openly declare the commencement of the programme in Delta.

LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that the programme will start with a test run in 18 states, while other states will join at a later date.

Many successful beneficiaries of the progaramme have received text messages from banks and their local government confirming their participation.

Meanwhile, stakeholders have applauded the move, saying the initiative, if not politicised midway, will give birth to economic prosperity, even as it would reduce in the long run the growing unemployment rate in the country.

The stakeholders who spoke in separate interviews with LEADERSHIP SUNDAY yesterday advised that a systemic, multidimensional economy with a wide approach was important in tackling the growing problem of unemployment.

On his part, the director-general of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, advised that to make the government initiative works, there must be creation of an enabling environment for investors, especially the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Yusuf said, “We need to focus on factors impeding the performance of these businesses. We need to address infrastructure issues, access to foreign exchange, regulatory challenges, funding, technology, ports customs, taxes, fees and levies, as well as bureaucracy, to mention a few of the constraints.

“Supporting the creation of new businesses is a good idea, but facilitating the growth of existing businesses is more impactful and more sustainable. We need to deal with all dimensions of the unemployment challenge.”

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Also, an entrepreneurship and business management expert, Dr Timi Olubiyi, said if the job creation drive is sustained, it would be desirable and attractive.

He however called on the government to strengthen existing jobs against the looming job losses due to unavoidable recession and the pandemic which is still very much around.

He pointed out that world over, SME’s are substantially the major employer of labour, avenue for wealth creation and sustainable economic development.

Similarly, the president of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Comrade Williams Akporeha, who commended President Muhammadu Buhari on the planned creation of 774,000 jobs, prayed that the jobs should be permanent ones and not the kind of jobs that will phase out in a few years.

“I must commend PMB because his administration is the type that is trying to meet the yearning of the people. He is making positive effort by these planned jobs which I believe is for civil service sector, in any case, it is a welcome development. But I pray they should not be politicised jobs that would fade away at expiration of this administration”, he said.

Similarly, the president of National Union of Food and Beverage Employees (NUFBTE), Comrade Oyelekan Lateef, who applauded Buhari for being sensitive to the plight of Nigerian youths through the planned job creation, noted that “if indeed the promise to create 774,000 is allowed to work, the number of unemployment would shrink by 774,000.

“And if the organised private sector is also able to create much room for employment, then, the society will enjoy peaceful atmosphere,” he added.

In a separate reaction, the general secretary of NUFBTE, Comrade Mike Olanrewaju, commended President Buhari for the planned jobs.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday, he charged the federal government to make the planned jobs productive and lasting ones that would help engage the youths, thereby keeping them from idleness.

Olanrewaju said, “This means one thousand jobs from the 774 local governments which is a better step in the right direction. We pray it should not be a political statement because it is better said than done.

“But if done, it would curb insecurity in the land, as an idle hand is always the workshop of the devil. If they are actively engaged, they will have no interest in anything that would undermine such ventures.

“They can easily be manipulated for evil things when they don’t have functional and productive jobs. But if truly it is not political statement, if truly FG can make this promise a reality, then, there would be bright hope for this country because as it is now, the country is at the cross road without clear cut direction”.

The federal government had earlier kick-started the Special Public Works (SPW) programme, which was designed to create 774,000 jobs across the nation, with the inauguration of the State Selection Committees.

The initiative plans to employ 1,000 persons from each of the 774 LGA in the country.

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Each of the beneficiaries of the programme will be paid N20,000 monthly to carry out public works.

The implementation agency for the programme is the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).

The minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, while performing the virtual inauguration in a joint address with the director-general of NDE, Nasir Ladan Argungu, had disclosed that an inter-ministerial committee drawn from 8 ministries and headed by the NDE recommended the setting up of states’ selection committees to identify and recruit those to be engaged under the programme.

source : LEADERSHIP

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Hammed Tajudeen is the editor in-chief of Blaze News, holds Higher National Diploma(HND) in Mass Communication, graduated from Osun State Polytechnic, Iree.

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