The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), on Monday accused politicians and some political leaders of attempting to blackmail him over the public works programme supposedly to create 774,000 unskilled jobs in the country.
Keyamo, who vowed not to succumb to any form of blackmail and pledging to drive the initiative to a successful conclusion, made the revelation in Abuja at the inauguration of state selection committees of the programme.
The minister also cautioned the state chairmen against compromising the objective of the initiative which he said was to give job opportunity to the people.
According to him, any chairman that failed to adhere to the guidelines on the operation of the scheme would be removed.
He said: “There have been attempts at blackmailing me in this particular programme too to make us also yield to political leaders and we have said no – not while I am here.
“I have a pedigree; I have a background; I know where I am coming from. Before I came into public office, I have a pedigree and what I stand for.
“Except Mr President, who appointed me stops me, and who gave me the opportunity and rare privilege to drive this programme, except he stops me, no other political leader or person can stop me. I am answerable only to Mr President.”
Noting that in the past, certain people entrusted with such a programme handed it over to political leaders as a form of patronage, he explained that the public works programme was for all Nigerians, and that the Federal Government had structured it to be bipartisan in order to reach every Nigerian, irrespective of political leanings.
He said: “Before coming here today, there has been an attempt by certain political leaders to say I must come and see them behind the scene first to determine who gets what and how, and I said no. I am ready at any time for a public debate on this with them.
“I think the chairmen can stand on their own; don’t go and hold meetings in the house of politicians to select; hold your meetings in NDE offices. Don’t go and meet in any government house to hold any meeting, don’t go to any politicians’ house to do selections.”
Speaking further, the minister explained that the programme, which is to run between October and December, would be supervised by the ministry through the National Directorate of Employment.
Each participant in the public works programme, according to him, would be paid N20,000 and a total of N60,000 for the three months.
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