Posted by News Express | 7 July 2020 | 1,265 times
By LANRE ADEWOLE, Lagos
Senior political operatives have been allocated 15 per cent of the 774,000 Federal Government jobs for poor Nigerians, the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, revealed on Monday.
The mathematical implication is that 116,100 slots will go to governors, ministers, senators and members of House of Representatives for their people.
In preparation for another round of interactive meeting with a joint committee of the National Assembly today, the embattled minister penned a lengthy explanation on Monday to the committee and the Nigerian public as controversy deepens over the menial jobs, with N52 billion budget.
The first meeting of June 30, between the two parties ended in chaos as they disagreed over the power of supervision and recruitment of beneficiaries across the 774 local governments in Nigeria.
Allegations and counter-allegations of corruption followed the rancour.
The minister said he was appraising the committee of the hard facts of the grey areas in the matter, which time factor and other extraneous issues may deny him today.
One of the issues he addressed in the letter is slot sharing and allegations of waste by the lawmakers.
According to him, there was a sharing formula for allocation of slots to National Assembly members and other top political functionaries, to accommodate their everyday supporters, as long as the core recruiting mandates are held sacred.
Quoting him, “However, in the spirit of transparency and because of the need to be honest before Nigerians, we have said before that we are not unmindful of the fact that political officeholders are also representatives of the people. We cannot also totally ignore them in the selection process. Their constituents are also Nigerians. What we have tried to resist is a total takeover of the programme by politicians and political actors, hence the multi-sectorial composition of the States’ Selection Committees.
“As a result, the States’ Selection Committees have been instructed to allot to political officeholders like our distinguished senators, honourable members, ministers and governors, a number in total not exceeding 15 per cent of the total beneficiaries in that state. This is to ensure that majority of Nigerians who do not belong to any of the political divides actually benefit substantially from this programme.
“The actual break down of these numbers between the officeholders have been communicated to the States’ Selection Committees. But if I understood Hon. Muhammad Wudil very well during his interview on Hard Copy on Channels Television, he alluded to the fact that he is uncomfortable with the fact that ministers got a certain number of slots (30) from all the Local Government Areas in a state, whilst he as a member of the House of Representatives got slots from only the local government areas within his constituency.
“But he should remember that there is only one minister in almost all the states (except a few that have two), whilst a state like Kano where he comes from has 24 members of the House of Representatives. If those 24 members each take slots from all the local government areas available, there will be nothing left again for everyday people to share.
“Finally, on this point, suffice to say that those persons to be recommended for engagement by political office holders that constitute the 15 per cent so mentioned, must also be eligible persons to participate in this programme.”
The Joint Committee of the National Assembly on Labour, Employment and Productivity has been accused of steering a political takeover of the programme, meant to provide poor Nigerians with N60,000 empowerment for three months of engagement between October and December.
He also explained the jettisoning of online registration and payment modalities.
“The reasons are: (a) the categories of those to be engaged (which are largely unskilled workers) will not have the capacity and access to make online applications. (b) online applications would not ensure that the 1,000 persons to be selected would come from each Local Government Areas as, for example, 300 persons may apply online from Lagos State, claiming to be applying to work in Sokoto State. (c) the selection process would be localized and would absolve us in Abuja the responsibility of selecting persons from different States.
“I am also pleased to inform you that for the purpose of transparency and accountability in the process, the President approved the use of select banks to register and collate data of those to be engaged. The banks would open accounts for all beneficiaries and in the process obtain BVN for those without accounts.
“Consequently, all payments would be made from the CBN directly to the accounts of the beneficiaries. The banks will also simultaneously register the participants of the Special Works Programme. Apart from the transparency and accountability, this will achieve, one of the benefits of the exercise is that more Nigerians would be captured in the financial system thereby enhancing the financial inclusion drive of Government.
“Eventually, the data collated by the banks would be passed on to us for use in the programme implementation. It is important to note that this data to be collated would be used for other multifarious purposes relating to employment and social surveys. Already the National Bureau of Statistics, the National Population Commission and other Federal Government Agencies have requested for an allotment of persons from the 1,000 persons in each Local Government Areas to carry out special social surveys and data collation” the letter read in part.
Keyamo also believed Hon. Muhammadu Ali Wudil, the House committee chairman, was already biased against and won’t get fair hearing making his case to him, saying, “I may not be able to get a fair hearing from him, especially as he is the one that has been at the forefront of insisting on controlling and dictating the execution of this programme behind the scene. He also made frantic efforts to stop the inauguration of the States’ Selection Committees through a series of phone calls to me.” (Nigerian Tribune)
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