The federal government yesterday raised the alarm over alleged attempt by some political leaders to determine who gets allotted the 774,000 jobs approved by President Muhammadu Buhari for unemployed youths.
It however vowed that it will not give into the series of blackmails and pressure by such politicians.
The 774, 000 approved jobs come under the special public works programme of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), specifically targeting unskilled persons in the rural areas.
Speaking at the official inauguration of the state’s selection committee of the extended special public works programme in Abuja, minister of state for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), maintained that the majority of the jobs must be allotted to ordinary Nigerians who were in need of them.
While noting that he would not sacrifice his reputation and principles by going beyond the 10 to 15 per cent allotted political officers, he said only President Buhari can make him do otherwise.
Keyamo said, „In the past, it used to be that certain people entrusted with this kind of programmes hand them over entirely to political leaders. There has been an attempt at blackmailing me on this particular programme too, to make us also yield into political leaders and we have said no, not while I am here.
„Except Mr. President who appointed and gave me the opportunity and rare privilege to drive this programme stops me, no other political leader or person can stop me; I am answerable only to Mr. President. This programme is for all Nigerians.”
According to Keyamo, some political leaders had requested to hold meetings with him behind the scenes, so as to determine who gets the jobs and how.
“Before coming here today there have been an attempt by certain political leaders to say I must come and see them behind the scenes, first to determine who gets what and how, and I said no, I will not do that and I am ready at any time for a public debate on this with them,“ he added.
While advising the new committee chairmen not to allow the processes to be hijacked by politicians, he warned that anyone caught under politicians bug would be relieved of the position and replaced immediately.
“I think the chairmen can stand on their own. Don‘t go and meet in any government house to hold any meeting, don‘t go to any politician’s house to do selections. Hold your meetings in NDE offices.
“NDE is the one driving this programme, they have coordinators, keep firm, stand firm. Nobody should be given more than what we allotted to the person. “We are going to be strict in allotting to different sectors, civil society, market women. Wait for those directives so nobody should intimidate the chairmen. I know the chairmen will stand their ground. I am also here to back them up. We are going to remove anybody who is dancing to the tune of anybody and undermining the drive of this programme.
“All my life I have fought for good governance, I have gone to court to ensure that things are done right when out of government. That is what gave me my name and pedigree before I came into government and I have a practice to go back to, I want to reach the zenith of my profession.
“Nobody will come and dictate to me the work that Mr. President told me to do. I cannot come into government and then abandon all the principles I fought for while I was out of government. I will not do that. Any attempt to intimidate or blackmail us here we will not give-in except Mr. President tells me to stop, then I will stop.“
The minister however appealed to the chairmen to consider women in the selection process.
He also hinted that the programme could be extended or repeated annually, depending on the financial stability of the government and successes attained in this first phase.
1,000 persons expected to be recruited per local government area would be engaged by the federal government between October and December in the areas peculiar to each LGA, and paid N20,000 per month.
Responding on behalf of the newly inaugurated chairmen, the Kogi State chairman, Afolabi Joseph, assured that the chairmen would deliver on their mandate in line with the federal government‘s expectations to impact on the lives of the citizenry at the rural areas.