FG to extend 774,000 special public works programme beyond 2021
The Federal Government said on Tuesday, that the Extended Special Public Works (ESPW) programme, which provides jobs for 774,000 Nigerians will be extended beyond 2021, even as it embarks on a new course to address the challenge of mass unemployment in the country.
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo, made this known, on Tuesday, as it declared that the task of fighting mass unemployment in Nigeria is a daunting one, adding however that this administration would meet its target.
Keyamo was speaking at the opening of a three-day training/meeting of zonal directors and state coordinators of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), held at Global Village Hotel, Nasarawa State.
As part of efforts to address the huge unemployment crisis in the country, the minister said the Federal Government is planning to extend the ESPW programme beyond 2022.
The training, which brought together all zonal directors and state coordinators of NDE under one roof, is to brainstorm and chat a new course in the efforts at addressing the challenge of mass unemployment in Nigeria.
In his keynote address, the minister, who is also the chairman of the NDE Board and supervising minister of the agency said “the task of fighting mass unemployment is no doubt a daunting one, but I am confident that with the calibre of highly skilled and committed technocrats like you, we will meet our set goals.”
He pointed out that the ongoing ESPW programme was about to be concluded, but added that the administration President Muhammadu Buhari, was already planning to extend it.
Keyamo said the gathering was designed to enable the critical corps of the NDE programme implementation team to engage with the rest of the Management to fashion new ways and approaches for delivering service to the nation.
“As you all are aware, we are on the verge of concluding the Extended Special Public Works (ESPW) programme. The programme is largest the single most grassroots-based social intervention initiative to have been implemented by any government in the history of this nation. You and l have become a part of this great history by virtue of our various roles in the conceptualisation, mobilisation and actual implementation of the programme.
“You will agree with me that the road has been rough but our resolve, determination and tenacity to ensure that the benefits of the programme reach the target groups will remain a reference point for a very long time to come. But let me also quickly add that it is not yet Uhuru. We still have a few difficult corners to navigate as we complete the payment process for those who are yet to receive their stipends.
“I am happy this meeting and training will enable you to design the template for the complete report on the programme, x-ray the challenges encountered during the implementation and recommendations for improvements moving forward. This development could not have come at a better time than now when the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration is planning to extend the programme next year and beyond.
“Therefore, as you deliberate here, ensure you provide solutions to identified problems as well as fresh ideas to make the future implementation of the programme hitch-free and sustainable.”
The Director-General of NDE, Mallam Abubakar Fikpo, said the training cum meeting is expected to provide the Zonal Directors and the State Coordinators an opportunity to look closely at the concept and implementation of the ESPW programme which is at its terminal point.
He explained that an evaluation of the implementation challenges will be undertaken while they would also design and adopt the template for writing the complete report of the programme.
Fikpo recalled that part of the exit strategy for ESPW participants has been implemented through the Basic Business Training (BBT) initiative recently conducted for the participants, adding that the meeting would equally identify other exit strategies that will further make the gains of the programme more sustainable.
“Another major objective of this event is to educate the Zonal Directors and State Coordinators on the need for strict adherence to rules and regulations as well as the application of ethical practices in the workplace,” he said.
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