The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, has said approximately N24,000, 817,800.00 billion has been paid out to 413,630 beneficiaries under the 774,000 Special Public Works Scheme as of June 24th, 2021.
Keyamo said this while at the briefing session coordinated by the Presidential Media Team in the State House, Abuja.
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The minister opened up further on the scheme after the Daily Trust exclusive report on Thursday, June 17 revealed that thousands of the participants were yet to be paid their stipend while others said they were paid only once.
Others alleged that they were short-changed during table payment as they were not given up to N20,000 expected to be paid each for three months, which started on January 5, 2021, to cushion the effect of COVID-19.
Keyamo, while speaking on the challenges, said the initial delays that greeted the programme had to do with discrepancies noticed during the registration phase, especially with bank verification numbers (BVN).
He said with the beneficiaries drawn from rural communities and mostly itinerant workers, the scheme had achieved a 60 per cent success rate.
‘Fraudulent opening accounts’
Keyamo disclosed that he uncovered some fraudulent Nigerians who opened multiple bank accounts under a single BVN despite attempts to ensure due diligence in the implementation of the programme.
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.
“We have helped save 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,” he added.
FEC okays SPWE annually
The minister, who promised that the programme would be sustained, said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved that Special Public Works Scheme (SPWS) be implemented annually.
He said: “On the sustainability of the Programme, we know it’s a very good programme.
“It takes a lot of logistics. We may require more time, especially when you want to execute to perfection.
“I may not be here tomorrow, again, as Minister, he may not be here tomorrow DG again. But we have set templates that other DGs or ministers supervising will follow in the future to ensure that it is watertight in terms of the selection process and execution.
“It is the first time we are doing this type of Programme like I said so we needed to be very innovative.
“Maybe that’s why perhaps there were some delays. And because we wanted to get it right at the end of the day.
“But I mentioned that as part of your larger package of poverty reduction package, that FEC approved in the last few weeks, there are so many components of that package.
“The President is very serious about the issue of lifting 100 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years. He’s really serious about it.
“So, we’re looking at different strategies to adopt to do that.
“To assure you and answer your question directly that, it will not go down the drain. There is the FEC approval already for the Special Public Works programme to be an annual event. It is implementation and the money that we will look for now in that regard.”
The minister, who flayed the critics in the opposition party, said the You Win social intervention programme under the Jonathan government could not achieve its aims and objectives because it was only meant for political cronies.