Fresh row over allocation of 774, 000 public works jobs as NASS rejects slots

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The senate and House of Representatives have rejected the slots allocated to each member of the national assembly in the recruitment of 774,000 public works personnel.

It would be recalled that the federal government initiated the programme to keep some of the unemployed busy doing public works for three months, beginning from October 2020.

N52 billion was earmarked for the programme in the 2020 budget for the in which each participant would get a stipend of N20, 000 per month.

Political office holders have been allocated 15 per cent of the slots in the programme designed to employ 1,000 artisan youth from each of the 774 local government councils in the country.

According to The Nation, every state governor has 40 slots of the job in each local government area; serving senators 30 each, members of the House of Representative have 25 slots; a minister, 30 slots in every local government area in his state of origin.

The senate minority leader, Mr. Enyinanya Abaribe, said in an interview that the national assembly had stated vehemently that it would not participate in the programme.

“As far as the national assembly is concerned, we are not participating in any form because of our earlier reservations about the lack of transparency in the programme where a minister has hijacked the programme for his own purposes.”

“The senate of the national assembly agreed that it will not participate in the programme as vehemently promoted without due process by minister of state for labour and employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo,” he told ThisDay in an interview.

Similarly, the minority caucus in the House of Representatives described as “grossly unfair, inadequate and unacceptable” allocation of only 30 slots per local government to each member of the House from the 1000 jobs per local government.

The minority leader, Mr. Ndudi Elumelu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the caucus was demanding more transparency and a review of the criteria being used to allocate the slots.

He alleged that the allocation formula was more in favour of certain interests in the All Progressives Congress (APC), to the detriment and disadvantage of majority of Nigerians.

“The 30-person allotment to be supervised by a member in each of the local government areas, cannot by any criterion, said to be a true representation of the people we are mandated to represent.

“The 30-person allotment per local government for lawmakers is grossly unfair, inadequate and unacceptable to Nigerians. As the representatives of the people, we are closer to them and they directly interact with us, irrespective of religion, class and political affiliations.

“All Nigerians living in our constituencies are our constituents, irrespective of political leanings. We have a responsibility to protect their interests at all times. As such, lawmakers ought to have been carried along on the allotment.

“Moreover, the questions are, what criteria are being used in the job allotments? Given the 30 persons out of the 1000 per local government area allotted to federal lawmakers, what happens to the remaining 970? What answers do we give Nigerians? How do we ensure that the programme benefit Nigerians and not enmeshed in allegations of sharp practices as witnessed in the COVID-19 palliative distribution?

He said the 774,000 jobs are meant for the people, adding that the people look up to the lawmakers as major channels through which they are reached for social and economic empowerment.

Also reacting, the PDP condemned what it called the resort to political godfatherism as well as underhand measures in the allocation of 774,000 jobs to cronies of political office holders instead of an open process that will accommodate every Nigerian.

The party described the alleged illegal and anti-people method adopted by the APC and its administration as an unpardonable injustice to the generality of unemployed Nigerians who do not have political godfathers and are not affiliated to any political party.

The PDP, in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said it rejects “this crafty political allocation, which is a direct exclusion of hardworking Nigerians from opportunities that should have been open to them under an open and transparent process.”

The party noted that since the funding for the jobs is drawn from the national purse, the process should be completely apolitical in a manner that grants the unrestrictive opportunity to all Nigerians irrespective of political affiliation, ethnicity or creed.

“In each local government area, 800 slots of the 1000 jobs have already been pencilled off to political cronies while the remaining 200 openings are thrown open for the contest to the public, which also includes politically affiliated persons.”

“Such brash violation of the principle of fairness and equal opportunity by the APC and its administration, is a direct invitation to restiveness and acrimony in the country and as such, should be immediately rescinded in the national interest.”

“Already, there is a growing uneasiness and restiveness among Nigerians, who would definitely be denied the opportunity to participate in this national process,” said the PDP.

The party called for an apolitical process by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) that would involve the active participation of non-politically aligned community leaders in states.

It urged all well-meaning Nigerians to unite in rejection of political allocation of jobs while calling on all citizens that fall within the eligibility bracket to go to their local government headquarters and demand for their rights of opportunity to participate in the program.

As a party, the PDP said it stands with the deprived Nigerians in demanding for equity and equitable access to opportunities for all Nigerians, without regard to any form of connections whatsoever.

In his reaction, Keyamo described as “irrelevant” the lawmakers’ rejection of their allocation.

“It’s the PDP caucus in the House of Representatives but that is irrelevant because their constituents will still get the jobs. It’s 1,000 per local government.”

On what the move by the opposition lawmakers portend for the successful implementation of the job creation programme, Keyamo said: “It wasn’t their right but a mere privilege.”

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