By Ogunde Abiola
President Mohammadu Buhari has begun the process of employing 40,000 men and women across the 36 states of the Federation. This pilot scheme was approved to be implemented in five local government areas in eight states namely: Adamawa, Borno, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Jigawa, Katsina and Kwara.
Disclosing this, the Minister of State for Labour, Mr Festus Keyamo said 1000 people will be employed in five local government in eight states as a pilot project. The focus is on unemployed people but not necessarily skilled who will be employed to work on repairs of roads and infrastructure. The workers will be engaged for a period of three months. Each will be paid N20,000 per month.
The project is part of the Pilot Special Public Works Programme in the Rural Areas which the President approved in 2019. The programme was domiciled in the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) for implementation.
Keyamo said the pilot programme earlier approved by Mr. President was designed to mitigate lack of job opportunities in the rural areas through a short-term engagement of One thousand (1,000) unemployed persons per Local Government Area for a period of three (3) months. It is a dry season/off season transient job programme and was originally designed for the rehabilitation/maintenance of public and social infrastructure. Participants were to be paid an allowance of N20,000 monthly and were to be recruited largely from the pool of unskilled persons ordinarily resident in those rural areas.
The beneficiaries will be engaged in drainage, digging and clearance, irrigation canals clearance, rural feeder road maintenance, maintenance of the Great Green Wall, nurseries and orchards. Other areas of their engagement are traffic control, street cleaning, cleaning of public infrastructure like Health Centres, Schools and the likes.
The total of 40,000 direct transient jobs were expected to be created in the eight pilot states.
Keyamo said the Special Public Works in the Rural Areas is an employment- intensive technique acquired and adapted by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) from one of the capacity-building collaborations with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the late 1980’s to the middle of the 1990’s. The Project was tagged ILO/NDE Labour Based/ Light Equipment Methods of Construction, Rehabilitation and maintenance of Public Infrastructure.
The ILO itself derived this idea of Special Public Works programme from several historical templates. According to the Development and Technical Labour Department of the ILO, these types of programmes were used during the Great Depression by industrialised nations to immediately respond to grinding poverty at the lowest level of society that normally bore the brunt of such economic upheavals. It was also effectively used during colonial Africa to quickly respond to situations such as drought and famine by mobilising the unskilled populace to engage in other labour intensive infrastructural projects as a means of immediately alleviating their situation.
Keyamo said further that the concept was later adopted and developed by most Asian countries like India, China and Bangladesh to lift their countries out of the league of poor nations. This programme was one of the main reasons India quickly dropped in the poverty index and Nigeria overtook India at a point.
“Consequently and arising from the need and desire of the Federal Government to create massive jobs at the lowest rung of the economy as well as to maintain critical public and social infrastructure at the rural base of the economy, Mr. President has approved that we also adopt and integrate this type of programme into the Nigerian economy”, the Minister said