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Committee disagrees with Rivers Govt on FG’s 774,000 jobs


Mike Odiegwu, Port Harcourt

The Committee in charge of the Special Public Works Programme of the Federal Government in Rivers State has assured the Rivers State Government that the scheme would not be hijacked by any political party.

The Chairman of the committee in the state, Dr. Innocent Barikor, who spoke in Port Harcourt, said the programme was designed for itinerant and unskilled workers irrespective of their political affiliations

The state government earlier pulled out of the Special Public Works Programme designed to employ 774,000 Nigerians describing it as a scam.

The nominee of the Rivers State Government in the Committee, Erastus Awortu, who is also the Special Adviser to Governor Nyesom Wike on Niger Delta Development Commission, in a letter addressed to the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, alleged that the programme had been hijacked by the APC.

But Barikor disagreed with the position of the government saying no party including the APC could hijack the programme.

While insisting that hunger has no political party, he said the committee was in talks with the state government to bring it back to the programme.

Describing the government’s decision as unfortunate, he said it could have been caused by some misinformation about the programme.

Barikor said: “It is unfortunate that this is happening and we are not happy about it. Government is one everywhere. The essence of government is the welfare of our people. But I am still engaging the process. I believe that some level of misinformation is responsible for what had happened.

“We will continue to engage them to ensure that we get them on board. It is important to state that this is a federal government programme. It is a national assignment that had been given to us as members of the committee. We will not renege in ensuring that the assignment is adequately and dispassionately attended to.”

Barikor said with the way the programme was designed, there was no need for anybody to entertain the fear that it could be hijacked in Rivers State.

He said the fears that the APC could hijack the process should not have arisen in the first place since the state governor and all the federal lawmakers, who shared slots in the scheme belonged to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

READ ALSO: Keyamo gets Buhari’s nod on 774,000 public works jobs

He said: “We don’t know where they got the feelings that the programme had been hijacked by the APC. So, far the activities of this committee do not portray us to be in favour of any political party. This programme is not dedicated to any political party. In any case the politicians are making a mistake thinking that they are the only people in this country.

“We will not give in to any political grandstanding or blackmail. Our interest is that of the common man. These guys you are talking about don’t need these things. But there are people in this state who may not afford a meal and these are the people we are talking about.

“Poverty doesn’t know political party. I am a university lecturer. I have an idea of where I am going to and I am privileged to have this assignment. I am committed to it. This is an assignment of just three months, why will I rubbishy my name because of three months N20, 000?

“We decided to make the collection of forms the first point of display of transparency. Councilors of wards have access to these forms; members of the National Assembly have electronic copies of these forms for their supporters. These members of the National Assembly are not APC people in Rivers State. So, on what area can we say is being hijacked by the APC?

“I won’t succumb to that because hunger is not a party. I want to assure Rivers State, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Ministry of Labour and Productivity that we do exactly what the guidelines of this programme says we should do.”

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