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[Opinion] 774,000 Jobs: The need for Senate to stop wastage of Tax-Payers Monies – Fatai Abiodun

“One needs to tell keyamo that Nigerians don’t need vanilla and yoghurt jobs that will disappear after 3 months of reaching the melting point, of what essence? what the masses need is an enabling environment that can propel ideas that would take the nation to the greater height.”

It’s becoming crystal clear that in few weeks to come, Federal Government through the agency of National Directorate of Employment would employ 774,000 employees across 774 Local Government Areas of the Federation under Special Public Works.

Special Public Works Department is one of the four (4) core programmes of the National Directorate of Employment, seeks to identify and exploit employment opportunities that abound in the public works sector by organizing the skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled persons that are unemployed to carry out utility, environmental, infrastructural development and sanitation works.

From history, the agency was created as a direct response to the rising trend of unemployment, the then military government headed by General Ibrahim B. Babangida, set up a committee headed by Mr. Stephen O. Chukwumah and was charged with the task of proffering a sustainable interventionist solution to mitigate the rising levels of unemployment in Nigeria.

Following the report of the Chukwumah Committee, the Federal Government established the NDE under decree No. 29 of 1989 which was replaced with ACT, CAP 250 of the Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

Today, it’s no longer news that the world is battling with the increment in the alarming rate of unemployment coupling with the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused told and untold hardship to the populace.

When I first heard about the news that Federal government through NDE has put in place a system that would ameliorate the suffering of the masses, I was marvelled to the marrow and quickly search the internet to see the adopted modalities for the selection and nothing was found except the reported fracas between the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo and the Senate over disagreement on layout and concepts.

Keyamo claiming to be appointed by the President to act as supervisor for the Nigeria Directorate of Employment with emphasis on the current 774,000 job recruitment, and I wondered if keyamo as learned silk can encourage the president to appoint a supervisor to perform the role of the DG of government established agency that was created as an act of parliament?

When the Senate asked the Director-General NDE, the original agency the National Assembly appropriated the money for, on their plans for the project, he answered in affirmative that he knows nothing about it. So, one can say that the said project has been hijacked by the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity. To me, this nefarious act is not only illegal but abuse of office. To supervise does not mean to take charge. The two words are different and cannot be used interchangeably.

Interestingly, I read the release tendered by keyamo on the plans and modalities to be adopted for the selection and mode of payment, believe me, it was a complete beer parlour, jankara and watery project, to say the least, a clear example of an exercise in futility.

There are many questions seriously begging for answers, Why planning to waste such billions on one-off (3 months Duration Project), where is the feasibility Studies of the Project? How does it change the narration of unemployment? Is it a crime to join the proposed recruitment with NPOWER operated under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs who had put every structure already in place? Is recruitment meant to show off? If it would take more than 60 days to implement processes to kickstart 3 months one-off project, why wasting our precious time? How would you plan to spend Seven Million per local government for project monitoring and assessment? Mr Minister, not all of us are stupid, the purported project will not yield anything tangible but wastage of funds.

One needs to tell keyamo that Nigerians don’t need vanilla and yoghurt jobs that will disappear after 3 months of reaching the melting point, of what essence? what the masses need is an enabling environment that can propel ideas that would take the nation to the greater height.

To ameliorate the effect of the pandemic, the budgeted 54 billion Naira can build many classrooms per local government across the federation not to talk of primary health care hospital that is over important in every community rather than wasting the money on frivolities. We must tell keyamo the truth, that the purported ‘jobs-recruitment’ has been designed to fail.

If they had done proper and sincere feasibility Studies, they would realize that all the areas Federal Government are targeting had already been put in place in many states like ‘OYES’ in Oyo, Osun, Kano, etc with years of existence and Why can’t they partner with the state for collaboration to strengthening the existing framework for better and lasting employment system, not the one purported on uncertainty.

I have done the NEEDS assessment; I can say without any fear or favour that the purported jobs would be another conduit pipe for corruption and I wonder who are those advising the government on the next line of actions?

The responsibility neglected, abandoned today shall automatically re-appear tomorrow, If this is the type of jobs federal government promised in the past to provide 100 million jobs, then we are in a total mess.

I don’t believe in throwing money to solve problems, but rather getting a think-tank to study the system and recommend empirical and workable solutions to avoid stories that touch in the long run. Sometimes I used to wonder if our leader doesn’t think at all, because if they did, how would call 3-month payoff assignment as a job? Is it meant to score a political point?

Are the states having the same population? If a local government in Oyo State is greater than the half of Bayelsa State in population and landmark, and u assigned same enrolment figure then where is the equity the learned silk joggling to be fighting for?

With the current governance approach, we are indeed far from getting it right. I laughed and got infuriated when keyamo was playing to the gallery that senate wanted to hijack the job that is meant for the masses for their cohorts because he knows that anybody who seems to be fighting for the common man would have a public sympathy, but some of us refuse to buy that ‘bread’ because it lacks ‘butter’.

Senate only asked for modalities on the need to ascertain and cross-check that the plans been put in place would have a positive impact on the populace, and to provide possible suggestions if need be.

 It’s high time the Senate as the representative of the masses, take a bold step and stop wastage of Tax-Payers Monies by proving to the world that National Assembly as an arm of government will not be an appendage of the executive.

Abiodun writes from Abuja.

Articles on www.equitynews.ng are solely authors opinion

 

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