The federal government says it has so far paid N24.8 billion as stipends to the beneficiaries of its Special Public Works Programme.
The Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, announced this at the weekly ministerial briefing organised by the presidential communication team on Thursday. He said beneficiaries were paid N20,000 a month for three months.
The Special Public Works Programme was introduced in October 2019, following President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval.
The programme is domiciled in the National Directorate of Employment, a parastatal of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
The programme seeks to address the problem of unemployment across the country, especially in the rural areas, thus making the unemployed youth more useful to themselves and society.
“As of this morning, people have started receiving their payment of N40, 000 each; that is for those who have received N20, 000 before but for those who had not received before and have finished their work,” the minister said.
“We are paying them N60, 000 each. So you will hear jubilation across the country because of that and this N60, 000 will save so many lives across the country
“This is surely going to reflate the economy because we have designed it in a way that all the Local Government Areas will benefit. It is going to boost the economy from the very bottom because the beneficiaries are going to add this money to their businesses,” Mr Keyamo said.
He said, “as of this morning, we have so far paid 413, 630 persons out of the 774, 000, so we have achieved about 60 percent.”
“All of these people received N60, 000 each and the total we have paid is N24, 817, 800, actual money given to Nigerians for them to cushion the effects of COVID-19 from the grassroots,” he said.
Mr Keyamo however said the entire targeted 774, 000 beneficiaries may not be achieved because of the peculiarities of the screening process.
“In a large programme like this, we may not achieve the 774, 000 to the last number but for me, if we are able to achieve and pay up to 600, 000 persons, we would have achieved a lot,” he said.
He noted that the remaining balance would return to the government’s coffers if we cannot have real people who will come and be entitled to that. I mean real people with real identity and correct Bankers Verification Number (BVN) so that we will not resort to paying ghosts, we will return the balance.
He assured Nigerians that the programme will not go down the drain at the expiration of the tenure of the current administration in 2023 because it has been approved by the Federal Executive Council.
“This programme has been approved about four or five weeks ago by the Federal Executive Council (FEC). This is one of the various programmes that the government will be implementing every year and people will be enrolled into the programme every year.
“It is a very good programme and we will keep improving in it because it is a huge programme that will take a lot of logistics especially when you want to execute it to perfection.
“I may not be here tomorrow as a Minister but we have set a template that subsequent managers of the programme will follow in future to ensure that it is water tight in terms of the selection.
“As part of the larger package of government’s poverty reduction programme that FEC approved, the President is very serious about lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years and we are looking at different strategies to adopt in achieving that.
“I assure you that it will not go down the drain because there is a FEC approval already for the Special Public Works Programme to be an annual event,” he added.