THE Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN, yesterday said that about N24,000, 817,800.00 billion have been paid out to beneficiaries under the 774,000 special public works scheme as at June 24, 2021.
Mr. Keyamo also said that 413,630 Nigerians drawn from rural communities and mostly itinerant workers in different local government areas have received their payments form the social work job.
The Minister disclosed this during a media briefing coordinated by the Presidential Media Communications Team, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He explained that the initial delays that greeted the programme had to do with discrepancies noticed during the registration phase, especially with bank verification numbers.
He said despite his attempts to ensure due diligence in the implementation of the programme, he uncovered that some fraudulent Nigerians opened multiple bank accounts under a single BVN.
According to him, efforts to separate genuine applicants from those trying to fleece the scheme of its resources accounted for initial delays recorded in the kick off of the programme.
He also told State House Correspondents that the lockdown occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic temporarily stalled the implementation process, but also led to President Muhammadu Buhari expanding the programme to enable those in the lowest cadre of economic strata to benefit.
The Minister said President Buhari deserved commendation because it was the first time that itinerant workers were benefitting from a federal government social intervention scheme, as beneficiaries were drawn through a multi sectoral approach.
According to him, “When we wanted to introduce the special social works scheme here in Nigeria, the President first approved the pilot scheme, because he thought, perhaps we needed to test run it to see what we can apply here. So the first thing the President approved was that we should do eight states at that time. And not all the local governments just five, in selected states originally, that was in late 2019, then I just became Minister.
“So we started implementation in January 2020 in eight states, we just started one month into the implementation when COVID struck. So we could not actually complete at that time, the Federal Government released one month stipends at that time to pay in those eight states.
“So during the lockdown, we discovered that at that time, small businesses suffered the most, so many people could not go out to eke a living , especially those who depend on daily pay. The people that were worst hit by the COVID lockdown was the people who go out daily to market or bricklayers among others.
“So the President was very concerned about this kind of people during the lockdown. He thought that If people don’t receive money daily, there’ll be a revolution. We had to quickly react and find them something to do. So he said, look, this pilot scheme should be expanded. Let it cover all the states and all the local governments now quickly, it was a quick response by the President. He was also audacious about it.
“The President said 1000 per local government not 500 not 100, but 1000 persons per local government, which comes to 774, 000, just so you know.”
He further said, “So far, those we have paid have received their N60,000 for the three months, we saved so many lives across the country by this payment, some use their own to buy grinding machine, I just discovered a grinding machine costs about N45, 000.
“Because of this, I begged my people to give more women than men because women are caregivers, they will manage this money well. They will buy grinding machine for instance, everyday they will making an average of N5000 or N10,000 grinding tomatoes, pepper beans, for people, part of which they will use to pay school fees or to feed the family. But the men will go on drinking spree.
“We have helped saved so many lives because we discovered that some people in villages, they go around looking for a loan of N25,000 for weeks, nobody will give them to add to their small businesses. Don’t forget that we’re not talking about our graduates here, we are talking of itinerant workers. This is surely going to reflate the economy.
“We have paid 413,630 persons out of the 774, 000. So we’ve achieved about 60 percents of the success rate and this are those who have received N60,000 each. And the total amount we have paid out is N24 billion, actual monies given to Nigerians to put in their pockets. For them to cushion the effects of post COVID”.
Keyamo also lashed out to critics in the opposition party, saying that the ‘You Win “social intervention programme under the Goodluck Jonathan’s government was only meant for political cronies, hence could not achieve its aims and objectives.
He noted that one of the magnanimity of President Buhari was that he ensured all Nigerians benefit from social intervention schemes irrespective of their political affiliations.
He alleged that “you win” was executed under secrecy because, it ensured that the beneficiaries must be party members who will pay back through electoral patronage.
“They are complaining that they were not getting enough slots in this scheme, during the you win programme did we even hear anything about it not to talk of benefitting, they were giving it to their party members for political patronage,”the Minister claimed.
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