By Ifeanyi Olannye
Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta has commended the Federal Government for the Extended Special Public Works (ESPW) programme, saying it will positively impact the state.
He gave the commendation on Tuesday in Asaba, during the flag-off of the 774,000 ESPW jobs programme of the Federal Government for the 774 Local Government Areas of the country.
Okowa was represented by the State Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu.
He said that though each participant would be taking N20, 000 monthly stipend for the programme that would last for three months, the programme had the capacity of injecting about N500 million monthly into the state economy.
While thanking the Federal Government for the programme, he tasked the beneficiaries to effectively utilize the proceeds to build their future from little beginnings, and not to become reckless.
He said that the programme conformed with the State Empowerment programme, and was being executed without political party bias.
“What we have seen happen here today is that after the politicking that precedes an electioneering campaign is governance, and governance has no political coloration.
“Today’s programme is conceived by the All Progressives Congress (APC) government at the national level but it trickled down, irrespective of the party at the state level, such that the beneficiaries are Nigerians, because hunger does not know a political party.
“The more number of people you are able to empower, the more you take away crime and criminality.
“If you have in the case of Delta about N20 million going into a local government monthly, then escalate it to 25, 000 poor persons in the 25 LGAs, that brings it to N500 million monthly being injected into the state economy,” he said.
The governor said that given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the multiplier effect of the Federal Government programme was capable of healing the present recession in the country.
He said this was if the beneficiaries could effectively utilise the opportunity to invest their money.
In a keynote address, Mr Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, said that the extended special public works programme was borne out the pilot programme approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and implemented by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) early in 2020.
The minister, represented by Mr Victor Ochie, Executive Director, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said the strategy was adopted by the Federal Government to fast- track the achievement of Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017 to 2020).
“The pilot programme was implemented in eight states in order to gauge its impact on addressing the ballooning population of unemployed and rising insecurity in some parts of the country.
“However, with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr President directed the Economic Sustainability Committee, China’s aired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to craft economic measures to cushion the adverse socio -econimic effect of the pandemic.
“The need to quickly address the above, informed the decision to implement the ESPW,” he said.
The Acting Director, NDE, Malam Abubakar Fikpo, represented by the State Coordinator, Mr Tony Olu, lauded the Federal Government for giving the directorate opportunity to execute the programme.
According to Fikpo, the ESPW prpgramme is a very significant step in Nigeria to win the war against mass unemployment as well as to ameliorate the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that all the participants were duly documented and their details captured by designated banks to guarantee a fraud free, transparent and fair service delivery and to ensure effective monitoring.
The acting director charged the participants to reciprocate the gesture by diligently executing their assigned tasks throughout the three months duration.
Prof. Kelly Ejumudu, Chairman, State Selection Committee, charged the participants to see the gesture as a clarion call to serve the country.
He said that no government in the world could totally eliminate poverty and unemployment, but alleviate it.
“This is the first time that a government programme has cut through the entire 774 LGAs in the country, it is meant for the poor, not for the elite.
“This project is not for grabs, it is intended to benefit the poor in the society to enable them better their life, and at the end, the entire society will be better off.
“Participants should work, earn and develop a good investment culture and not to spend the money lavishly,” he cautioned.
Responding on behalf of the participants, Ms. Charity Okonkwo thanked the Federal Government for the programme, while promising their resolve to work, earn and manage their monies effectively.
She, however, join other stakeholders to call for government to evaluate and extend the programme beyond three months.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that participants were equipped with the necessary gadgets and materials to enable them keep and maintain a clean environment across the 25 LGAs of Delta. (NAN)