…Vows to employ legal action
By Gift Chapi Odekina
The PDP Caucus in the House of Representatives has unequivocally rejected and dissociated itself from the Special Public Works Programme of the Buhari led APC Administration.
The statement signed by its Chairman Kingsley Chinda (PDP Rivers) admonised its members to ignore the letters written to Senators and House of Representatives members by APC State Coordinators of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) on behalf of the Minister of State (Labour and Employment), asking for the nominate of 30 and 25 individuals respectively from each Local Government Area in their constituency.
The Caucus has also resolved to employ legislative and lawful processes including institution of legal action were necessary to address any encroachment on the performance of its statutory functions and fundamental human rights.”
The statment 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”
Rep Chinda said “Elementary division of the approved Programme budget of N52billion by 774 LGA’S in Nigeria implies expenditure of N67.184million (about $150,000) in each LGA of Nigeria which if applied judiciously and transparently will suffice for the establishment of a viable Industry in each LGA”
“He added that for several years to come will provide gainful, 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.”
“From the estimated sum of N67.184million intended to be expended in each LGA of Nigeria, N1million per SME can be utilized for the creation and development of 67 SME’S 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 3 or more poor Nigerians per SME.”
“The Buhari administration’s insistence that the Special Public Works Programme is an employment intensive scheme implies that the monthly stipend of N20,000 proposed by this administration as remuneration for target workers is a violation of the provisions of the National Minimum Wage Act 2019 enacted under this same administration which stipulates in Section 3(1-3) that every employer shall pay a minimum wage of not less than N30,000 to each worker every month and any agreement for the payment of wages less than the National minimum wage is void.”
” The President who endorsed the payment of N20,000 for implementation of this programme, the Minister who has hijacked and is superintending its implementation and the NDE’s Director General who is the agency’s accounting officer are in violation of extant provisions of the National Minimum Wages Act and should be sanctioned according to provisions of Section 9 of the Act.
“The probable illegality of this Programme is further emphasized by certain actions of the Minister of State Labour and Employment which appear to be in violation of the NDE Act. All powers bestowed on the Minister in the Act are clearly on the substantive Minister, the Minister of States assertion about being the supervising Minister of the NDE is alien to the Act, any internal policy’s or directives within the Ministry flowing from Nigeria’s flawed Ministerial appointment system cannot supersede provisions of formal legislation”
“The initiation and appropriation of funds for the Special Works Programme under the NDE and not the Ministry was based on the statutory mandate of the agency and confers responsibility for implementation on the agency. According to Section 20 of the Procurement Act, the NDE Director General is the agency’s accounting officer and will be held accountable for expenditure of funds appropriated for the agency”
“In his 28 May 2020 speech, the Minister of States reference to provisions of Section 16(1) as justifying his creation of Special Committees known as State Selection Committees across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT is flawed and at variance with that provision of the Act which indicates the substantive minister can from time to time constitute a Special Committee of the Directorate and not special committees”
“The skewed composition of members of the State Selection Committees in favour of APC members, political thugs and party stalwarts confirms the suspicion that these State Selection Committees are conduits for misappropriation of Nigeria’s Commonwealth for settlement of APC members and for prosecution of a false employment narrative and façade”
“The PDP Caucus of the House of Representatives as members of the National Assembly do not exonerate themselves from responsibility in the approval of funds for implementation of the misguided Special Public Works Programme and unreservedly apologize to Nigerians for the planned misapplication of their scarce resources”
“The recent revelations from the House of Representatives probe of the NDDC, the surreptitious introduction and questionable consideration of the controversial Water Resources Bill; the attempt to railroad the House into passage of the plagiarized Infectious Diseases Bill and the clandestine consideration and passage of the CAC Act are a few examples of the current dictatorial, biased and divisive modus operandi of the APC led 9th National Assembly were decisions are taken on behalf of members without their full knowledge or participation.
“The blatant and brazen disregard of a co-equal arm of government and elected representatives of the Nigerian people by the Minister of State who was grandstanding before the Nigerian people and the tacit approval of his actions by the President in authorizing his continued implementation of this skewed programme regardless of definite pronouncements by the National Assembly .
“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.”
“The intended allocation of slots to elected political officials as suggested by the Minister are as follows; Governors – 40, Senators – 30, House of Representatives Members – 25, Ministers – 50, House of Assembly Members – 20, Council Chairmen – 20, Religious organizations and organized bodies – 20, which gives a total of at most 205 in each LGA. What is the plan for engagement of the balance of about 795 individuals and how will ordinary Nigerians who are not stalwarts or members of the APC participate in this scheme when the State Selection Committees were selected by this APC administration and are composed of APC members?”
“Multiplication of N20,000 by 1000 persons in each of the 774 LGA’S of the country gives a total of N46.44billion as the actual amount to be utilized 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 utilized for in three months when the CBN is supposed to make payments directly to the accounts of beneficiaries?
“Are the banks who are supposed to handle registration and collation of data of beneficiaries selected through a transparent process in line with extant laws of Nigeria or were they simply selected because they are cronies of the Minister of State and this administration? Is this administration admitting its inability to fight corruption and indicting its own agency’s by inferring that transparency of the process can only be guaranteed through banks? ;
“Will the government be charged by the banks for provision of services that should ordinarily be carried out by the relevant government agency? Are there really any public works identified to be maintained by 1000 persons in each LGA for three months when most LGA’S in Nigeria hardly have any infrastructure? The questions are innumerable!”
“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 utilize related funds to the benefit of Nigerians.”
“This is a defining moment for the APC leadership of the National Assembly whose inaction has elicited the appellation of a lame duck legislature from the Nigerian populace who have lost faith in the ability of the 9th assembly to hold this administration accountable.