The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, has faulted the withdrawal of the state government from the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) scheme aimed at employing 774,000 Nigerians through the Special Works Programme.
The Rivers State government had last week written to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, withdrawing from the scheme over alleged hijack of the programme by the APC.
But the APC, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt by it’s spokesman, Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke, accused agents of the state government of attempting blackmail the ruling party in order to drag ii into needless confrontation.
The statement said special interest groups, including the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) had already been drafted into the scheme.
It reads in part: “There are attempts by agents of the Rivers State Government to blackmail the All Progressives Congress and drag the party into a needless confrontation over the implementation of the ongoing employment scheme driven by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“We have intended to maintain a dignified silence over what we consider a misguided reaction on the part of the representative of the Rivers State Governor. We are however compelled by circumstances to react in order to clear the air and keep the record straight.
“We state emphatically that while some special interest groups, including CAN, NURTW as well the Rivers State Government, to mention a few, have been drafted under the programme to ensure Rivers people benefit from the Federal Government’s scheme, the APC has maintained a safe distance from its implementation.
“The reason is that the APC respects the template painstakingly drawn up by the supervising Ministry which is being followed religiously across the country by all who wish to ensure that the unemployed in their midst, notably able bodied youths, widows and physically impaired persons, are given a unique opportunity to earn a little in these horrific and difficult times.
“We are aware that as part of the guidelines put in place, all major groups as well as high ranking officials serving in the National Assembly or as heads of State Governments have been duly assigned slots as prescribed. What is left after the slots meant for the high and mighty who equally represent certain constituents are deducted, are reserved for the masses.
“We recognize that the aim of the ongoing programme is to create a minimum of 1000 jobs in each of the 23 LGAs in Rivers State. It is not something any one, or reasonable institution should politicize.
“Rivers people and other Nigerians who reside in the various LGAs ought to benefit from a humane policy enunciated by the Federal Government. This is perhaps the point of departure between the APC and the PDP led government in Rivers State.”