The federal government announced on Sunday that 774, 000 Special Public Works (SPW) jobs will now commence on January 5, 2021.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo confirmed this.
The programme, designed for artisans to do public works for three months for ₦20,000 per month, suffered setbacks in commencement date because of internal wrangling between the minister and a former Director-General of the National Directorate of Employment, Nasir Ladan, who was sacked last week by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The minister said the programme ran into some “hiccups” hence the delay in the commencement date earlier announced.
The “hiccups” may be connected with the struggle for the control of the programme by the sacked Director-General who was at loggerhead with Keyamo over the implementation of the programme.
The sacked Ladan, it was gathered, worked with the National Assembly to undermine Keyamo who is the supervising minister following the fallout between the minister and the lawmakers.
Both the government officials couldn’t bring themselves to work together on the programme as Ladan continuously flouted the directives of the minister while cozying up to the National Assembly members.
Twice, the Federal Government announced a new date for the kick-off of the programme designed to employ 774, 000 Nigerians in the 774 local government areas.
Despite the release of ₦26 billion as stated by Ladan and procurement of equipment, the programme has not commenced till date.
On Sunday, Keyamo told our reporter that the work would officially commence in January 2021 and that an official announcement will be made on Wednesday after the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
The minister added that he expects the programme to go on smoothly with the removal of Ladan.
He said: “We have taken a firm decision to begin on January 5, 2021, but I am going to make an official announcement after FEC on Wednesday. We had a few hiccups in December but we have taken a decision to begin January 5 which is a Tuesday.
“The programme will run from January to March 2021 which is pure dry season. So, we are ready. All the obstacles have been removed.”
The minister also said only banks approved by the president would be used for the payment of the participants’ stipends.
Keyamo said the six banks – Zenith, Access, Fidelity, FCMB, UBA, and Heritage bank enlisted for the programme have successfully opened special accounts and captured the biometrics of successful applicants for the job.
The applicants, the minister said will be paid through their bank accounts using their Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) to avoid fraud and double payment.
Keyamo said: “As we go into the field, we need to make a few clarifications. The reason this programme was delayed in the last few weeks was that the minister, who is in charge of the implementation and supervision of this programme, we got reports from all over the country that certain unscrupulous persons were generating alternative lists, different from the ones that I approved as a minister and which I directed the implementation in strict compliance with Mr President’s directives.