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774,000 jobs illegal, say PDP Reps 

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By Tony Akowe, Abuja

A faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives on Monday described the 774,000 jobs to be created by the Federal Government in the 774 Local Government Areas across the country as an illegal scheme.

It also said the scheme known as Special Public Works Programme (SWP) did not only contravene the National Minimum Wage Act, but it was also politically-motivated.

The factional  PDP members in the House, led by Kingsley Chinda, argued that the N52 billion   set aside for the programme could be used to set up about 67 different small and micro-industries in each of the 774 LGAs.

According to the members, each of the 774  LGAs could have N67. 184 million small and micro-industry that could provide sustainable jobs for the youth.

Under the SWP, the 774,000 beneficiaries would earn N20,000 each for the three-month life span of the scheme as against the N30,000 minimum wage.

The lawmakers pointed out in a statement that the Minimum Wage Act required the Nigeria Labour Advisory Council and the National Wages, Salaries and Income Commission to make a recommendation to the Minister of Labour for  an exemption to pay an amount lower than the minimum wage to anyone engaged by the Federal Government.

They stated that while the wages commission has not made any such recommendation, the Nigeria Labour Advisory Council has not been put in place since the coming into power of the Muhammadu Buhari government.

The caucus members also said that they  would seek legal means to address what they described as  “encroachment on their statutory functions and fundamental human rights.”

They accused the leadership of the House, led by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, of being “dictatorial, biased and divisive” in the handling of the affairs of the House and taking decisions on behalf of members without their full knowledge or participation.

Chinda’s faction of the PDP caucus in the House is not recognised by the House leadership, but it enjoys the backing of the national leadership of the opposition PDP.

The Gbajabiamila leadership recognises Ndudi Elumelu as the chairman of the Second PDP caucus in the House.

The statement by Chinda reads: “The caucus considers this correspondence – a condemnable attempt to bribe and hoodwink the institution of the National Assembly into complicity in the misapplication of Nigeria’s scarce resources for the implementation of a questionable, misguided, absurd and arguably unlawful scheme that alarmingly intends to expend N52 billion under the guise of “creating employment” for only three months.

“This regrettably is the most unsustainable employment scheme implemented by any government.

“While the caucus espouses the eradication of poverty and the creation of gainful and sustainable employment for the burgeoning population of unemployed Nigerians under this administration, it flies in the face of reason and common sense why this government insists on expending enormous resources for the implementation of a  politically-motivated transient programme, dubiously shrouded as “employment” having no empowering or enduring benefit to ordinary Nigerians especially when several viable and veritable job and wealth-creating alternatives exist for application of the funds.

“Elementary division of the approved Programme budget of N52billion by 774 LGAs in Nigeria implies expenditure of N67.184million in each LGA of Nigeria which if applied judiciously and transparently will suffice for the establishment of a viable Industry in each LGA which for several years to come will provide gainfully, enduring and sustainable direct and indirect employment for more than 100 skilled and unskilled poor unemployed Nigerians per LGA and provide an invaluable opportunity for future growth, skill acquisition and economic development.”

“Multiplication of N20,000 by 1,000 persons in each of the 774 LGAs of the country gives a total of N46.44billion as the actual amount to be utilised for the programme in three months leaving a balance of N5.56billion when deducted from the total approved sum of N52billion. “Why is there a surplus of N5.56billion and what is this amount intended to be utilised for in three months when the CBN is supposed to make payments directly to the accounts of beneficiaries? ;

“From the estimated sum of N67.184 million intended to be expended in each LGA, N1 million per SME can be utilized for the creation and development of 67 SMEs  per LGA who will engage in viable and lucrative businesses in the Agriculture, mining and other value chains that in most instances would be peculiar to each individual LGA and create gainful employment for up to three or more poor Nigerians per SME.”

“The caucus has resolved to employ legislative and lawful processes, including the institution of legal action where necessary to address any encroachment on the performance of our statutory functions and fundamental human rights.”

“The ulterior motives of this administration in the implementation of this  programme are obvious and no longer left to conjecture! This is an APC initiative intended to enrich APC stalwarts by creating opportunities to pilfer Nigeria’s resources under the guise of creating employment.

“This programme has obviously not been very well thought out and is destined for failure from the onset. It will unfortunately be a monumental waste of the nation’s resources and another sad footnote in the chequered history of the Buhari administration.”

”We admonish the government to jettison the planned three-month Special Public Works Programme for more sustainable alternatives that will utilise related funds to the benefit of Nigerians.”

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