Festus Keyamo, Minister of State, Labour and Employment, has expressed optimism that President Muhammadu Buhari would approve the implementation of the second phase of the Extended Special Public Works, ESPW, programme.
Mr Keyamo also assured all verified participants in the programme across the 774 Local Government Areas that they would be fully paid.
The minister spoke during the National Directorate of Employment, NDE, Day at the 2021 Lagos International Trade Fair, LITF, on Friday in Lagos.
The fair, which opened on Nov. 5, will end on Nov. 14 under the theme: “Connecting Businesses, Creating Value”.
Mr Keyamo said one of the major ways in which the present administration was addressing the prevailing economic situation was through the creation of decent jobs.
He said the NDE had been able to successfully implement the ESPW programme which was specifically targeted at the poorest of the poor in Nigeria.
According to him, under the intervention, 1,000 unskilled and unemployed persons from each of the 774 LGAs were engaged to provide environment specific public works services in their immediate localities.
The minister said the services were rendered for a period of three months with each participant paid the sum of N20,000 per month.
Mr Keyamo noted that the impact of the ESPW had been significantly felt across the land.
“I am informed that currently, officers of the NDE are out in the field carrying out an Impact Evaluation exercise to imperially establish the extent to which the ESPW has fared with a view to improving on areas of need in subsequent outings.
“Despite the challenges we encountered while implementing the programme, I want to assure Nigerians that the participants who have so far been captured and verified by the designated banks will be fully paid.
“Let me use this opportunity to deeply appreciate the President for his pro-poor posture.
“You will agree with me that in the history of Nigeria as an independent nation, no government has implemented a programme that has addressed the issue of mass unemployment and social inclusion at the grassroots like the current government.
“I am optimistic that the president in his magnanimity —and pro-poor disposition will approve the implementation of the ESPW in the coming year,” he said.
Mr Keyamo disclosed that about N40 billion had been paid so far, adding that processes should be expedited by the coordinators to ensure that the remaining N6 billion was disbursed to those yet to be paid.
He said the government would continue to support the NDE in the discharge of its statutory mandate of creating mass employment opportunities for the unskilled and unemployed in Nigeria through skills training and other innovative methods.
Also, Nuhu Fikpo, Director-General, NDE, said the LITF was a great platform for beneficiaries of the directorate’s various employment creation schemes to showcase their businesses to the world.
“Today, no better testimony can speak about our modest efforts at tackling unemployment than the tangible presence of our beneficiaries displaying their goods and services in the stand of the NDE at this fair.
“They represent our collective aspiration to check mate unemployment and the convincing results that we are on the right path.
“I can only wish them well and greater success as they soldier on in the world of business,” Mr Fikpo, represented by Adeola Shafaru, Director, Human Resources, NDE, said.
In her remark, Toki Mabogunje, President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, said there was need for cooperation between the government and private sector in advancing the push for job creation and poverty reduction.
Mr Mabogunje commended the NDE’s efforts in areas like entrepreneurship development skills, vocational training, and the rural enterprise development support programmes.
“With a federal presence in all the states, the Directorate can reach the grassroots through the deployment of technology for training and services.
“The task of creating jobs lies more with the private sector, while the government is expected to provide the enabling environment,” she said.