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774,000 Jobs: FG Pays N24bn To 413,630 Beneficiaries

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THE Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN, yesterday, said that about N24,000, 817,800.00 have been paid out to beneficiaries under the 774,000 special public works scheme as at June 24, 2021.

Keyamo also said that 413,630 Nigerians drawn from rural communities and mostly itinerant workers in different local government areas have received their payments from 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 that 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-19 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-19 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 1,000 per local government not 500 not 100, but 1,000 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 N5,000 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-19”.

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 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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NADCEL 2022: Army Embarks On Tree Planting In Barracks 

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In commemoration of this year’s Army Day celebration, the Nigerian Army has embarked on tree planting exercise within barracks.
The Commander, Army Headquarters (AHQ) Garrison, Major-General Kabir Garba, who conducted the exercise alongside other officers within Mogadishu Cantonment and barracks in the AHQ Garrison’s Area of Responsibility (AOR) such as Yar’aduwa Barracks and CBA extension, at the weekend, said the exercise was a stand against deforestation in the county.
According to him, the aim is to create awareness against deforestation and to support units under his command and the barracks community to take a stand against deforestation and participate in greening of the environment.
Garba added that the tree planting exercise was also in line with the Chief of Army Staff’s position on tree planting, adding that the Army Chief has always demonstrated it by planting a tree in all the building projects he inaugurated in recent times.
“It is also worthy to note that the exercise is in line with tree planting campaign of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Buhari has pledged to plant 25 million trees in Nigeria to enhance the country’s carbon sink as part of the country’s efforts to implement the Paris Climate change agreement”, he said.
The Nigerian Army Day is celebrated across army formations and units on every July 1 to July 6.
The 2022 edition, which was billed to take place in Owerri, Imo State, commenced with a news conference last Wednesday, followed by Juma’at prayer on Friday while the interdenominational church services were held yesterday in all formations across the country.

Other activities lined up include humanitarian outreaches while grand finale would take place on July 6 in Owerri.

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PDP Crisis: Wike’s Our Jagaban, Man Of Revolution –Atiku

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has described Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as the Jagaban of the party.
Atiku said he holds Wike in high esteem, stressing that he was a man of revolution.
He disclosed this through the spokesperson of his presidential campaign, Segun Sowunmi, on Arise Television, last Friday.
He stressed that the Rivers State governor was a straightforward person who says things as they are.
“Wike is our own Jagaban; how do you explain a governor being able to keep other governors in line? One thing you can’t deny him is that he has the ability to say it as it is. He will not bend or colour things.
“Atiku holds Wike in high esteem, time and space may not bring them together, but he does. Wike is a man of revolution; he is one of the totems of PDP,” he said.
There are claims of crisis within the PDP following Atiku’s selection of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as his running mate.

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Strike: Redirect Presidency, NASS Budgets, Others To Meet ASUU’s Demands, SERAP Tells Buhari

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The strike which has lasted more than 130 days jeopardising the future of Nigerian students also caught the attention of the organised labour threatening protest.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), had last Thursday, said it would embark on a one-day protest to force the Federal Government respond to ASUU demands.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has, therefore, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “urgently recover missing N105.7billion of public funds from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to fund the country’s public tertiary institutions, improve the welfare of staff members, and ensure that the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) return to class without further delay.”
SERAP said, “Pending the recovery of the missing public funds, we urge you to redirect some of the presidency’s budget of N3.6billion on feeding and travels, and the N134billion allocated to the National Assembly in the 2022 budget to meet the demands by ASUU.”
SERAP also urged him to “send to the National Assembly a fresh supplementary appropriation bill, which reflects the proposed redirected budget, for its approval.
In the letter dated July 2, 2022, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Meeting the demands by ASUU would confront the persistent and widening inequality in educational opportunity, and promote equal protection for poor Nigerian children.”
According to SERAP, “The apparent failure by your government to agree with the reasonable demands by ASUU, implement the good faith agreement with the union and to satisfactorily resolve the issues has kept poor Nigerian children at home while the children of the country’s politicians attend private schools.”
The ASUU accused the government of poor commitment to the payment of academic earned allowance (EAA); poor funding, the continued use of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) and refusal to adopt the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), among others.
SERAP said, “Meeting ASUU demands would also ensure protection against the harms of discrimination and educational deprivation.”
The letter, read in part: “The poor treatment of Nigerian children in the country’s public tertiary institutions is inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international human rights obligations.
“Widening inequalities in the area of education bear all the more dramatic consequences given the importance of education, as an empowering right, in giving the possibility to all to explore and realise their potential.
“Inequalities in education have a rolling effect, leading to even more and continued inequalities in the future.
“Apart from being a right in itself, the right to education is also an enabling right. Education creates the ‘voice’ through which rights can be claimed and protected, and without education people lack the capacity to achieve valuable functioning as part of the living.
“If people have access to education they can develop the skills, capacity and confidence to secure other rights. Education gives people the ability to access information detailing the range of rights that they hold, and government’s obligations.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“Recovering the missing N105.7billion of public funds and redirecting the funds, as well as some parts of the presidency and National Assembly budgets to meet the demands by ASUU would end the protracted negotiations between ASUU and the Federal Government and improve access of poor children to education.
“Recovering the missing N105.7billion of public funds and redirecting the funds, as well as some parts of the presidency and National Assembly budgets to meet the demands by ASUU would also be in the public interest.
“The proposed spending of taxpayers’ and public funds would also be consistent with constitutional responsibilities and oath of office by public officers, as well as comply with Chapter 2 of the Nigerian Constitution relating to fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy.
“Recovering the missing N105.7billion of public funds and redirecting the funds, as well as some parts of the presidency and National Assembly would be entirely consistent with your constitutional oath of office, and with the letter and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution, as it would promote equal opportunities for poor children who rely on public schools and have no opportunity for university education elsewhere.
“SERAP is concerned that Nigeria’s public tertiary institutions have continued to experience a steady decline. The quality of public education offered is low and standards have continued to drop. The learning environment does not promote effective learning.
“Public school facilities are in a state of extreme disrepair, requiring major rehabilitation. Basic teaching and learning resources are generally not available, leaving many lecturers and other staff members profoundly demoralised.
“The failure to end the ASUU strike has hugely contributed to denying poor Nigerian children access to quality education, opportunities and development. The enjoyment of the right to education for millions of poor children remains a distant goal.
“Under international law, states are required to progressively implement socio-economic rights, including the right to quality education commensurate with the level of resources available. Gross misallocation of resources to the detriment of the enjoyment of the right to quality education can constitute a human rights violation.
“A violation of the right to education will occur when there is insufficient expenditure or misallocation of public resources which results in the non-enjoyment of access to education by poor Nigerian children.
“The failure to meet the reasonable demands by ASUU cannot be justified especially given the failure and/or refusal by the Federal Government to recover trillions of Naira reportedly missing in ministries, departments and agencies, and the huge funds allocated to the presidency and the National Assembly in the 2022 budget.
“According to our information, N105.7billion of public funds are missing, as documented by the Auditor-General of the Federation in his annual audited report for 2018. Also, while the presidency has budgeted N3.6billion for feeding and travels, N134billion has been allocated to the National Assembly in the 2022 budget.
“Furthermore, ASUU and other university workers’ unions have been on strike for several months. The unions’ demands, among other things, include better funding for the nation’s public tertiary institutions and improved welfare for their members.
“While your government has reportedly released N34billion for the payment of minimum wage consequential adjustments from 2019, ASUU has maintained that until its core demands are met, it will not suspend the strike.
“In protest of the continuous use of IPPIS and refusal by the Federal Government to implement the renegotiated 2009 agreement that was completed in May, 2021, ASUU resumed nationwide strike on February 14.”

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