By Celestine Ajayi
The Federal Capital Territory Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Aliyu, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for initiating the Extended Special Public Works Programme aimed at addressing mass unemployment in the country.
Mr Austine Elemue, Special Assistant on Media to the minister in a statement on Saturday, in Abuja, said Aliyu made the commendation at the Kogi state inauguration of the programme in Lokoja township stadium.
The minister explained that the interventionist programme, approved in October 2019 was specifically for 1,000 persons each from the 774 Local Government Areas of the country for temporary employment during the dry season.
Aliyu, who acknowledged that although the programme was not entirely new in Nigeria, however, said that it was the first time in Nigeria government was focusing on unskilled workers.
She said that before now, the emphasis has been on unemployed graduates and skilled workers.
“These types of programmes were used during the Great Depression by industrialised nations to immediately respond to grinding poverty at the lowest level of the society that normally bear the brunt of such economic upheavals.
“The programme was also effectively used during Colonial Africa to quickly respond to situations such as drought and famine by mobilising the unskilled persons to engage in other labour intensive infrastructural projects as a means of immediately alleviating their situation.
“The programme is not entirely new to Nigeria as the National Directorate of Employment in collaboration with International Labour Organisation (ILO) first introduced it in the mid 90s.
“Even though, the ILO itself derived the idea of Special Public Works programme from several historical templates.
“Let me add that although the programme is not entire new, but what is novel is the fact that this is the first time Nigerian government is focusing on unskilled workers.
“Before now, the emphasis has been on unemployed graduates and skilled workers,” Aliyu said.
She, therefore, enjoined the participants especially from Kogi to reciprocate the gesture of the President by diligently executing their assigned roles through out the duration of the short-term but fruitful engagement of the programme.
Earlier, Malam Abubakar Fikpo, the Acting Director-General, National Directorate of Employment, stated that the initiative would have commenced some three months ago, but was regrettably delayed due to unnecessary and unavoidable circumstances.
Fikpo noted that with the launch of the programme, the communities would witness a facelift through the activities of specific works to be carried out by participants ranging from drainage clearing and maintenance, vegetation control, feeder roads amongst others.
He gave the assurance that participants were duly documented and their details captured by designated banks to guarantee a fraud free, transparent and fair service delivery.
The acting D-G stressed that in order to ensure effective monitoring of the scheme, supervisors were appointed in all the electoral wards of the country.